EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

Director Matt Shakman talks 'It's Always Sunny,' 'Fargo,' and more

This Wednesday’s episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Charlie Work,” will leave you stunned. It’s one of my favorites already: fast-paced and much of it filmed in a single shot. Matt Shakman directed the episode, as well as 36 other episodes of Sunny and many other episodes of our favorite TV shows.

Shakman took some time just for us to answer the EW Community’s biggest questions about what he does and how he does it. And we cannot be happier that he did:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: This Wednesday’s episode Sunny is amazing. How did the idea come about to do it in one shot like that?

MATT SHAKMAN: When the guys wrote it, they were influenced by True Detective. There was a one-shot in that, which I think influenced them to include a large part of “Charlie Work” as a one-shot. … So Rob called me up when I was working on Fargo and said, “Hey, we’re doing this episode, and it’s all going to be in one shot. So get ready.” I was excited. … Since then, and since the score was created, which has this sort of jazz sound, Birdman came out. So it has this sort of strange, unintentional Birdman homage to it even more than True Detective.

You mentioned Fargo, and I know you direct so many types of shows: Six Feet Under, New Girl, Mad Men, and the list goes on. What is it like directing these different types of shows?

They’re all essentially storytelling. I started as a theater director, and I still direct a lot of plays. In theater, you’re expected to direct all kinds of different plays. … In TV, it’s more common to do one type of more than another, but I’ve been lucky to jump between them. But I think they’re all similar in how they focus on storytelling. Even in Six Feet Under, Alan Ball, who did that show, had experience writing for sitcoms before that show. And then in Mad Men, I know Matt Weiner had experience writing for sitcoms before Mad Men too. It’s your ability to go between drama to comedy that I think makes those shows so good. When you do comedy, you want a certain seriousness to it. There’s a precision to it. And when you do drama, you want a light touch. Because without that light touch, it can become unrelenting.

Do you have a favorite type, or are they each their own kind of art form?

I really enjoy working in different kind of things and telling different types of stories, as long as it’s character-based. Sunny has some of the best characters on television and some of the darkest situations, even though it’s the funniest show. And that’s just as fun for me as working on a show like Fargo or Mad Men or Six Feet.

Since you started out directing theater, what made you decide to direct TV shows?

I fell into it a little. I was doing a play here in L.A., and I run a theater company called the Black Dahlia. I had done this piece about Orson Welles, and a fantastic filmmaker named Ed Zwick came to see it. I got a phone call on the theater answering machine the next day from Ed Zwick saying to come down and talk to him at his office. And he invited me to start shadowing him on the set of a show on ABC called Once and Again, a family drama. And I kind of went to film school with him. So between working in the theater and doing my day job, I was spending time serving on his set and learning the ropes. At the tail end of that season, their final season, he gave me a slot to direct. And that was my start. Ever since then I’ve been trying to balance film, TV, and theater. But it’s thanks to him, and I’m grateful to him that he gave me the shot.

So Ed Zwick was certainly a major professional influence to you. Who were your biggest influences growing up?

Growing up, I was a huge Orson Wells fan. The Third Man was probably my all-time favorite. And then later, probably David Fincher became the guy. And the Coen brothers—which is why I was thrilled to work on Fargo, because they are my top guys, so to be able to play into their world was so fun.

Are you going to continue working on Sunny?

We just finished season 10 of Sunny, and we know we have two more coming up. I’ve spent most of my adult life working on that show, and I definitely want to stay with it until it’s over. We’re the longest-running basic cable live-action comedy, and when season 12 ends, we’ll be tied with My Three Sons for longest-running overall live-action comedy, which is really exciting.

What other projects do you have in the works?

The movie Cut Bank, which we think is releasing in early April. It’s set in a small town in Montana, [and] is sort of a black-comedy thriller. And I’ve been working a lot lately on You’re the Worst, which is another show for FX that I’m really proud of.

That’s such a great show!

Yes, it’s the little engine that could. Much like Sunny.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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