After accumulating nine seasons of hilarity and a devoted fanbase, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” finally decided to come right out (sort of) and ask the question we've all been pondering for nearly a decade: why the hell has this show never won (or even been nominated for) a major award? Not that the writers, cast or viewers really care about awards, right? Awards are stupid, right? Yes. But still. You've gotta think that someone like Glenn Howerton, who's just been killing it for the past few seasons, must go a little mad once in a while thinking about Jon Cryer snuggling up to his Emmys. (Yes, that's plural.) That madness is channeled into the season's very meta third episode, which finds the gang looking for the magic formula to make Paddy's Pub award-worthy.

When Frank discovers that Paddy's isn't a contender in the local Best Bar contest, everyone immediately—and unconvincingly—insists that this yearly snub doesn't hurt. But as they talk it out, they realize that even though awards are stupid, it just doesn't make sense that they've never even been in the running, considering, as Dee puts it, "I can't imagine that people are doing what we're doing better." (You can say that again. Especially while pointed in Sullivan & Son's direction.) The gang sets out to right this wrong by visiting the Restaurant and Bar Association, where an exec explains that all they need to do to get on the ballot is pay $10 and fill out an entry form. Evidently, this form has been mailed to the bar multiple times only to be returned covered in "fecal matter, urine and racial slurs." You could take that literally, as something Charlie might do, or you could take that figuratively, as a statement that the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences doesn't think that pooping the bed, peeing on fake visions of Jesus and debating the proper usage of 'Jew' is award-worthy.

To get an idea of what a winning bar looks like, the gang (minus Charlie, who is too busy trying to write the Best Song for the contest in his head) visits Sudz, a shiny, happy place staffed by an ultra-nice bartender, his wisecracking black sidekick, and the cute waitress whose will-they/won't they romance with the bartender seems to be what keeps the patrons coming back every week. At first, Dennis, Mac and Dee are disgusted by just how NICE and inoffensive everything is, but after each has an enormous signature cocktail (which I'm surprised they didn't just go ahead and name Kool-Aid), they warm up to the place. Dennis likes it so much that he decides to take Sudz's winning formula and apply it to his own bar—right down to the innocuous orgasm jokes and manufactured sexual tension between Mac and Dee—just in time to wow all the suits at Paddy's industry night.

Frank, however, tries to convince Dennis that they don't have to turn Paddy's into something it's not, because "edgy" can still win over the critics. He explains that he and Artemis recently visited a "classy" burlesque bar that had a ton of awards despite the smaller customer base. He also counters Dennis's suggestion that their sketchy location could be holding them back: "There's that bar that just moved in down the street and they’ve already won a ton of awards."

Ultimately, we all know the gang can't change, no matter how they try. Their attempts to woo the industry big-wigs fall apart as Mac is unable to fake any sort of charm, and Frank and Artemis are found doing decidedly un-classy things in the back room. Charlie puts the final nail in the coffin by debuting his new song that features a spider in his soul, lots of high-pitched wailing, the repeated request to "go f**k yourselves," and even an interactive element: spitting on the audience. As the spit-soaked voters scurry out of Paddy's, the gang is left with just themselves, and they're happy with that. But yeah, they still kinda wanted that award.

Grade: A

Random Thoughts:

• Oscar Nunez from The Office appeared as the manager of Sudz. And he was gone before you could say "Dunder Mifflin." Weird.

• Dennis's makeover of Dee was brilliant. If only he'd put her behind a giant soft-focus lens, she could've doubled for Barbara Walters.  

• Mac has had plenty of orgasms, people. He also has plenty of slang terms for orgasming. And he will j**z in your drink.

• It's kind of fun to guess which bars were supposed to represent which TV shows. Sudz could really be any number of sitcoms. But the classy burlesque joint with few customers and lots of awards? Probably something on HBO, Showtime or some other cable channel. Nurse Jackie? I'd say maybe Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but from what I see on Facebook, EVERYONE watches those. And what about "the bar down the street?" I'm guessing some FX hits like Louie, Justified and/or American Horror Story.

• I enjoyed Charlie the most in this episode. For whatever reason, the image of him crawling up out of the floor with silver paint smeared all over his face had me laughing for an unreasonable length of time. His original Randy Newman-inspired song about "liking life at Paddy's Pub" was so ridiculously spot-on that I almost want it to be the show's new theme song. And the final song, written after huffing many cans of paint, wasn't quite on the level of "Nightman" or "Dayman," but it certainly got his point across. (And even though he was trying to make it sound sort of bad, we were reminded once again that, my God, Charlie Day is a talented guy.)

• I can't shake the feeling that now that the show has finally addressed their lack of critical love, it might actually get nominated and/or win something. Just like in The Shawshank Redemption when the parole board finally gives Red his freedom once he tells them that he doesn't give a shit.

• Best quotes:
Dee: “Some old boner gives me attitude, I'm gonna spit in his face."

Mac: "It's strange to have one black friend and not be constantly talking about it."

Mac: "I don't need a bell to tell me when to drink."

Dennis (about Dee): "I'm gonna shellac her with makeup and blast her with light to soften up those features."