The Early Years
Rob McElhenney was born in Philadelphia on April 4th, 1977. Although he is known as Rob, his legal name is Robert Dale McElhenney. Rob’s parents are of Irish descent and had three children. Rob is the oldest. His parents raised him in the Roman Catholic faith. At the age of eight, his parents divorced because his mother came out as gay. Although his father raised him, he has said his parents stayed close after the divorce.
Rob has always been an important part of the gay community because his two brothers are gay. After his father remarried, he gained a step and half-sister. His link to Philapdephia was forever strengthened due to a suggestion from his best friend, Joseph Dougherty Jr. This suggestion eventually resulted in the hit phenomenon It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Rob was educated in Philadelphia at Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School.
Upon graduation, he furthered his education at Temple University. After his move to New York City, he temporarily stayed on the campus of Fordham University with his friends but did not enroll. Rob became a producer and writer. His shows include Latter Days in 2003, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 2005 and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet in 2020. On September 27th of 2008, he married Kaitlin Olson in California. They first met when he hired her for the role of Dee Reynolds.
Rob has said she is the funniest person in show business. In 2009, the couple purchased Skinner’s Bar in Philadelphia, then christened the establishment Mac’s Tavern. During a Phillies game on September 1st of 2010, Kaitlin went into labor and Axel Lee McElhenney was born. Leo Grey McElhenney was born in 2012 on April 5th. Rob’s father is Marcus N. McElhenney, an activist and attorney.
The Cult Phenomenon
Rob McElhenney became the center of a cult phenomenon. His role on American television as a funny, degenerate, amoral and narcissistic loser was the result of his struggles. During his early years, he often worked in the foodservice industry. Despite his supporting roles, his efforts were consistently cut from the films. This led to Rob and his friends Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton creating a situation comedy pilot. The show was about the struggles of an actor trying to make it in Los Angeles.
As the show was tweaked by the creators, it became even more anti-Hollywood and blue-collar. Eventually, it was set in Rob’s hometown and named It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The 2005 premiere was written and produced by the three creators. These three men played the starring roles beautifully. Rob’s future wife Kaitlin starred as a cosmopolitan slacker with a foul mouth running a bar in Philly. Every week she bumbled through schemes to get rich fast filled with depravity.
The program quickly attracted a loyal following due to the disregard for any type of politeness and the lack of redemptive traits or characteristics for any of the characters. Rob tweaked and refined the show using his unique creativity. The result was a cult phenomenon the public never saw coming. To prepare for the 7th season, Rob deliberately gained an additional 60 pounds. Growing out his beard was the next step. He believed this would make his character even funnier and provide a new direction for the show.
Charlie Day was the co-star describing gaining this much weight as disgusting. In truth, the cast was worried about Rob’s personal safety and health. During the month after completing filming of the 7th season, Rob lost 23 pounds. As the year progressed, he continued to lose more weight to prepare himself for the next season. He joked about losing weight and getting in great shape in a series of Instagram posts.
He said losing weight was not hard. All that was necessary was working out with weights almost every day, refusing to eat after 7:00 p.m., eliminating all sugar and carbs and refusing all alcohol. There is no doubt Rob has an excellent sense of humor. Rob then posted losing weight also involved Magic Mike’s personal trainer, sleeping for nine hours every night, and running a total of three miles on a daily basis. According to his posts, the studio should pay for everything for six to seven months.
Rob’s jokes about not understanding why everyone did not live this incredibly realistic lifestyle to achieve the ideal body image for comparison are a testament to his popularity. Rob admits having an obsessive love for television for as long as he can remember. He watched a lot of television while he was growing up. He believes this makes him a student of television. This is an important part of his desire to become a writer, producer and actor.
Rob spent his early years struggling to become an actor in New York. The reason he began writing is that he was unable to find parts and took the suggestion from his agent to heart. The first script he ever wrote was a dark homage to Scorsese. Although the film was never produced, Paul Schrader optioned the script. Paul is well known as the writer of Taxi Driver.
The Hollywood Years
Even though Rob was unaware of the future he was creating, his career began after he moved to Hollywood. He wrote a scene where the character heard a friend admit they have cancer. The character ran away as fast as possible. He brought the scene to Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton because he believed they could make it work. Rob described Charlie as one of the funniest people in existence and said Glenn did things he had never seen before, he made Ted Bundy comedic.
Of course, the result was It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The showed aired on the FX network. Danny Devito was added to the cast during the second season because the network believed he would improve the extremely poor ratings. Once the team came together, there was no stopping the show and cult status became a reality. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia became what Rob always knew it could be, an inversion of the mantra for Friends, “I’ll be there for you”.
Rob believes everyone has some narcissistic tendencies but their brains and hearts have been taught acting in this manner is wrong. He described Sunny as five people without narcissistic restraints finding one another. The result was the creation of hilarious, sociopathic, evil and narcissistic behavior. Fifteen years have passed since the premiere of the show. It is currently the longest-running sitcom with live-action on the air. Despite this, the show is still capable of shocking the audience.
Rob has the determination necessary to subvert expectations. This was the man that changed his physical appearance to mock the idea characters in a sitcom inevitably become boring or predictable. He gained 48 pounds by adopting a regimen of eating cottage cheese at night. For the 13th season, Arin Babian was hired so he could get into excellent shape. Arin was the trainer for Channing Tatum. This led to an amazing season finale.
The five-minute dance routine Rob performed was interpretive, brilliant and enabled his character to come out to his father while incarcerated. The reason this was a “joke” was that there was no joke. The show spent years setting everything up so the audience expected a catastrophe. Nobody was expecting the heartfelt sincerity so brilliantly displayed.
The life of Rob McElhenney is not complete without mentioning Mythic Quest. The show effectively subverts all expectations. The setting for the sitcom is the workplace. The fifth episode was titled Dark Quiet Death and received a lot of attention. This episode defined the theme of the show with creativity, compromise and commerce. Rob is not considered a morbid person, but he believes the players in the sitcom can never win no matter how hard they try. The best they can do is prolong their demise.
He said this is a lot like life and admitted he thinks about death constantly. He finds the meaninglessness of life often liberating and sometimes de1vastating. This is how he navigates his life. The episode he created is both sophisticated and inventive storytelling. Rob sidestepped taking credit by saying he lives in the streaming age and there is no excuse not to exceed the boundaries of established limitations of the past.
Rob says everything is simply theft. He looks at the works of the masters and does not see any more rules. It is nearly impossible to believe the man responsible for creating It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia ever felt restricted by the rules. Mystic Quest is a funny and sharp show asking important questions about modern society. The show explores both toxic and positive masculine aspects. During the premiere of the first episode, Rob was only 28. He was the youngest person running a Hollywood show.
Rob McElhenney is now 42 years of age. He is looking for writers that will tell him everything is different now. As the relics of the past fade away, Rob is looking forward to the future.