Mac/Dennis

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Pairing
Pairing: Mac / Dennis Reynolds
Alternative name(s): MacDennis
Gender category: m/m slash
Fandom: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Canonical?: No, implied
Prevalence: Most popular pairing in the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fandom.
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Mac/Dennis Reynolds is a slash pairing of two of the main characters on the FXX tv show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The pairing is also known as MacDennis and it is the largest pairing in the fandom.

Canon

Dennis and Mac are best friends, and roommates on the show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. They have known each other since high school, when Mac was a drug dealer and they spent most of their time under the bleachers with fellow classmate Charlie Kelly. They are co-owners of Paddy's Pub and other characters often comment on their codependent relationship. Dennis listens to all Mac's phone calls, while Mac insists that Dennis calls him to check in when he's out. They have been living together for 15 years, and have weekly movie nights and monthly dinners at a local restaurant.

Their relationship has been fleshed out over the course of twelve seasons on the show.

Fandom

The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fandom did not always have MacDennis as the main pairing.

A small faction of MacDennis shippers existed, but CharlieMac people definitely had the throne. There was a MacDennis tag but it was slow, and there was a little bit of low level antagonism in CharlieMac ships that placed Mac in a position where Charlie rescued him from Dennis.
There was a very low opinion of and disinterest in Dennis in 2013. In the abstract, this makes sense. He’s not cute like Charlie and Mac are and his whole existence is basically a trigger warning. When people started to examine him more closely as a character, there was a trend for a while to tag posts about him as ‘dennis reynolds cw[1]

In brief, multishipping was very common, but CharlieMac was the most popular ship until mid 2014. A representation of the ship distribution in the fandom and attitudes towards pairings in 2013 can be found here.

By 2014, many other fans had carved out a niche where they could ship pairings that were viewed as 'problematic' (i.e. any pairing involving Dennis) without too much judgment. MacDennis began to grow in popularity, especially after Dennis's mental illness was so interesting and prevalent during season 10.

What changed?

The answer, my friends, is mentally ill Dennis Reynolds. Before late 2014, this concept was not touched in fic. After people started writing it, it tinged pretty much every subsequent MacDennis fic.

Now, mentally ill Dennis Reynolds is a given in the fandom, but it wasn’t always. There is a long and storied pre-season 10 history of pushing back against the idea. In 2014, some people had mentally ill headcanons for the gang etc. but this was regarded as inappropriate and ‘problematic’ by many on the edges of and even within the fandom.[2]

While Dennis's mental illness did not make this pairing less problematic, with copious warnings still attached to works, writers began to view their codependent relationship more sympathetically, with Mac often portrayed as a stable force in Dennis's life. A year after that, the episode "Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs" gave life to the pairing again.

In season twelve, the fandom experienced another surge of growth when an influx of Sherlock shippers into the fandom started to speculate about 'The MacDennis Conspiracy.' See The MacDennis Conspiracy for more information.

When johnlock didn’t happen, some shippers joined the Always Sunny fandom and started referring to macdennis eventual canonization as tmdc, short for “The MacDennis Conspiracy” and started treating Always Sunny the way they treated Sherlock. . .Seeing as there has been chardee AND macdennis hints throughout this season (macdennis moreso than chardee, admittedly) which culminated into some heavy chardee and macdennis stuff in The Gang Tends Bar, people have said the Prophecy is happening before our very eyes.[3]

The Prophecy is the name commonly given by fans to The Chardee Macdennis Prophecy, which claims that Charlie/Dee and Mac/Dennis will become canon before the end of the series. Other fans refer to the prophecy as The MacDennis Prophecy, not concerned with Chardee, or believing it less like that ship would become canon. Though the prophecy did not occur (and Dennis left at the end of season 12) the shippers remained dedicated and, in fact, the shipping community grew. In May of 2017, the first MacDennis fic exchange occurred.

Fanwork Tropes

The top six most common tags on ao3 are (in descending order) internalized homophobia, angst, fluff, mental health issues, alcohol, and eating disorders.[4]

In 2017, a parody, EVERY MACDENNIS FIC EVER was written by haemophilus.

  • Pre-canon - Fics involving high school are very common, especially fics that involve Mac selling Dennis weed under the bleachers. There are currently over 40 fics about Mac and Dennis in high school[5]. Fics where the two begin a sexual relationship as teenagers are often tagged as High School AUs, while others are considered canon compliant as any sexual experimentation is often brushed off by at least one of these two characters.
  • Get together - Much like many other fandoms, get-together fics are very common. In keeping with the tone of the show, many get together works involve emotional manipulation, or hooking up to win an argument or prove a point.
  • Internalized homophobia fics commonly overlap with Mac identifying as Catholic. As of 2018 this is the most common tag applied to MacDennis works on Ao3
  • Mental Health Issues - In general, the character with mental health issues is Dennis. It is common to deal with this aspect of his character.

Fanworks

Fanfiction

Archives & Fannish Links

Tumblr

Canon Resources

References

  1. I wanna know about how unpopular macdennis was.
  2. I wanna know about how unpopular macdennis was.
  3. tcdmdp and tmdc - Can I ask what both of them stand for? tumblr post on MacDennisOfficial, 23 February 2017, accessed 8 October 2018
  4. MacDennis works on Ao3. This appears to have been accessed on 5 June 2017, based on the date this edit was made to the page. Most common tags have changed since then.
  5. Works including High School element in MacDennis tag on Ao3