The show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” follows a group of friends who own a bar in south Philly and their wild antics. In season five episode ten one of the characters, Dennis, explains his system for, “Getting any chick’s undying love and devotion, for life.” He wittily names his fool proof plan the D.E.N.N.I.S. System. The acronym breaks down his method of conquering the opposite sex in a very patriarchal way that is conniving and is motivated by physical relationships.
The D in the D.E.N.N.I.S. system stands for demonstrating value. Dennis gives the example of picking up a prescription for his nonexistent grandmother from an attractive pharmacist. This is a different approach to picking up women because like Newman says, “Hollywood leading men were square-jawed, rugged, not particularly chatty, violent when necessary and unemotional” (93). Newman continues with, “…a new generation of leading men who are more thoughtful, sensitive, and emotionally available” (93). Since women are not used to seeing this Dennis argues it make them want to love him more.
The next step E is for Engage Physically. He does this by asking her out to a restaurant that is always closed so he can cut to the chase and bring her back to his house and eventually his bed. This step to him is the point of no return for the women because after having sex the women will naturally start to depend on the man.
The next letter N, is for Nurturing Dependence. Dennis creates a fictional angry neighbor who threatens her but he is there to protect and comfort her. The woman is now living under patriarchy because she is scared. Johnson proves this by saying,”…the notion that women are weak and men are strong, that women and children need men to support and protect them.” (95). The idea that the women must be protected by men and can’t do anything without them is continued in the next step.
The second N stands for Neglect Emotionally. This is where Dennis just completely stops seeing and talking to the woman. He also brings back the angry neighbor but this time he isn’t there to protect her. Dennis claims this will cause her to question her self worth and esteem. Because the woman thinks she lost Dennis she will believe what Ponzer says when talking about what girls take in from television,”…only the most stereotypically beautiful, least independent women with the lowest carb diets will be rewarded with love, financial security and the ultimate prize of male validation” (99). Now that the woman is upset and depressed Dennis takes the second to last step.
The I is for Inspire Hope. Dennis does this by going to her window and apologizes by saying he was scared because he thought she was going to break his heart, and continues by saying he loves her and needs her. This goes against all the norms for masculinity, but is just part of the scam. He does this to make her think she has broken through his tough exterior. So after they “bang” Dennis slips out into the night and Separates Entirely to finish out the acronym. This shows that Dennis is only into perusing this woman for sex and proves Newman’s point that,”…men in prime time comedies to be depicted as rude, crude, sex crazed, sexist, childish, egotistical and stupid” (94).
Dennis uses his system to get what he wants from a woman and then is out of the picture. His system causes him to go against some common beliefs of masculinity, but in the end his motives are what is commonly thought of as masculine. Since he decribes it as this is what men do it further proves that we living a patriarchal society.
"The D.E.N.N.I.S. System”. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. By Rob McElhenney. Perf. Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, and Danny DeVito. FX. November 19, 2009.
Newman, David M. "Chapter 2 and 3. "Identifies and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2007. Print
Johnson, Allan G. “Patriarchy The System An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us.” Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology. Ed. Estelle Disch. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2008. 91-99. Print.
Pozner, Jennifer L. “The Unreal World.” Women: Images & Realities, A Multicultural Anthology. Eds. Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair, and Nancy Schniedewind. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2006. 96-99. Print.