Glenn Howerton Explains Why ‘Always Sunny’ Outed Mac as Gay

Howerton was against it, at first

Rob McElhenney

The stars and executive producers of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” always prided themselves on the fact that their cocky, clueless characters never learned anything or evolved. But that changed this season, when Mac (show creator Rob McElhenney) finally accepted that he’s gay.

Mac’s closeted status has been one of the show’s longest running jokes. But in the middle of the current, twelfth season, which concludes tonight, Mac came out of the closet in order to claim a winning lottery ticket. (It’s all explained in the dizzyingly absurd episode called “Hero or Hate Crime.”)

It was hard to say what was more surprising: That Mac had the self-awareness and confidence to come out, and stay out, of the closet, or that the rest of The Gang, known for their cruelty, welcomed his decision with respect and admiration.

Ahead of tonight’s season finale, TheWrap spoke with Glenn Howerton — who broke the news with us that he may or may not be leaving the show. (Howerton developed “Always Sunny” with McElhenney, the show’s creator, and the two  executive produce it with Charlie Day. All three star with Kaitlin Olsen and Danny DeVito, who round out The Gang.)

Howerton told TheWrap he was initially against the “very conscious idea” of having Mac stay openly gay — but finally decided it was time to “toy with the idea of things not necessarily evolving, but things changing to a degree.”

Here’s Howerton explanation to TheWrap about why Mac coming out made sense not just for Mac, but for the show:

He’s out. It’s definitely a big deal for us. I never thought we would do that. … I was against it at first, and the reason I was against it was his character has always been an opportunity to satirize a particular attitude, that still sadly exists, that there’s something wrong with being gay.

And I think that it was important to me at least to maintain that level of social satire which is such a big part of the show to me: taking an attitude, taking a point of view that exists in our society, and giving it to one of our characters and sort of blowing it out of proportion. Watching the inevitable outcome of the most extreme version of that point of view.

That’s always been my M.O. in terms of the writing of the characters. And to me there was always such a darkly comical and sad element to having this character continue to deny his own sexuality because of the societal pressures that he put on himself… that he had internalized.

So I never wanted him to come out of the closet because I thought that to me is… showing just how deep that mentality goes. And despite all the evidence and despite all the support of his friends, the man will still continue to deny his sexual orientation.

But then I got to a point where I realized, I’m holding too hard and fast to that rule. And I think we have made plenty of jokes in that arena. We’ve satirized that to death. What sort of possibilities does it open up when that character finally does come out of the closet? Which is why we decided to have him come out once and for all.