Monday, April 30, 2012

Dennis Reynolds

Dennis Reynolds is a fictional character on the FX television series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dennis is a co-owner of Paddy's and is Deandra's twin brother. Dennis is extremely narcissistic, selfish, histrionic and vain. His sense of self-worth is entirely dependent on what others think of his appearance and sex appeal. He frequently obsesses over any possibility that he may have a visible physical flaw and often spends the remainder of the episode trying to correct it. Dennis needs constant reassurance that he is attractive; he often goes to shocking or dangerous lengths to gain the attention and approval of people around him. Throughout the series, Dennis frequently drinks large amounts of alcohol and occasionally uses other drugs, such as crack cocaine and ecstasy. He is played by Glenn Howerton. Dennis is the only one from the show's trio of male lead characters (himself, Mac and Charlie) who does not share a first name or nickname with the actor who portrays him, and Howerton said at a convention that this was deliberately done to distance himself from his role as much as possible.

"Popping off" his shirt in inappropriate situations has become one of Dennis' main clich├ęs. Dennis' delusional self-image influences him to believe that anyone would want to see him without his shirt and would be just as pleased as he is with what they see.

Dennis has a strong superiority complex. He is almost wholly unable to empathize and routinely destroys others' property, betrays his friends, and harshly criticizes the appearance of people in his presence. He even insults and demeans his friends, particularly Deandra and Charlie, on a regular basis and never hesitates to draw attention to their flaws, shortcomings, and past failures. This can lead to the conclusion that Dennis has sociopathic tendencies. Both his friends and enemies have referred to him as "a piece of shit" within the series. In response, Dennis usually smiles or laughs and rarely disagrees with their sentiment, seeming to be perfectly comfortable with that description. Dennis openly considers himself to be the epitome of physical attractiveness, but is actually very insecure about his looks. Although he is generally unfazed and often pleased by insults about his personality or nonphysical features, he is very sensitive to any negative remarks about his physical appearance. Any critique of his looks, however mild or trivial, deeply distresses Dennis and often leads him to extreme behavior to rectify the supposed problem. In the episode "The Gang Exploits a Miracle", Deandra counters Dennis' insults by claiming that he has a "fat face" which temporarily causes Dennis to become dangerously anorexic.

Exceedingly promiscuous, Dennis tends to easily gain the short-term favor of women. He's claimed that, in his sexual encounters, the words "no", "don't", and "stop" never stop him from following his intentions. It has been revealed that Dennis was once dismissed from a counselor position at a summer camp because he was accused of the statutory rape of an underage teenage girl, although he maintains he just kissed the girl, who was only a year younger than he was. Members of The Gang comment on his attraction to teenage girls in "Underage Drinking: A National Concern"; in this episode, Dennis ends up being blackmailed by an eighteen-year-old high school senior into escorting her to her high school prom; however, he showed rare morals and restraint in both turning down the teenager's blatant sexual advances and seeming briefly relieved when she returned to her high school boyfriend. Dennis also has a fascination with anonymous sex, even almost engaging in an underground sex orgy with Frank. Dennis repeatedly shows a poor understanding of the line between seduction and rape. For example, in one episode he did not understand how having sex with a sleeping stranger could possibly be considered rape. In a later episode he failed to understand what was wrong in creating a situation where a woman would agree to have sex with him out of fear for her own safety. As the series progressed, Dennis' sexual preferences have become increasingly disturbing. Initially, Dennis would simply engage in casual sex, but later episodes reveal that he prefers not knowing his partner's name, even going so far as using a glory hole for anonymity's sake (although he quickly rejected the idea after finding that Frank was on the other end). Dennis also likes to videotape each of his sexual encounters as well as record the conversations leading up to them. In "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge," Dennis reveals that he "like[s] to be bound" with cuffs and other "tools" during sex.

Dennis is also implied to have had a gay experience while blackout drunk at the beginning of the first season when Mac, helping Sweet Dee get revenge, got Dennis drunk on tequila. Though Dennis shows a complete lack of an understanding of the mechanics of gay relationships, he knows what it means to be a bear or a twink and understands how a "top" differs from a "bottom"; he explains to The Gang that "speed is the name of the game" when defining the role of a "power bottom." The possibly-ambiguous nature of his sexuality and gender identity has been explored in other episodes and is usually connected to his vanity and need for peer approval.

Dennis' taste in music is primarily what Mac calls "early-eighties glam-rock femme-shit." Dennis is seen singing along with songs of Rick Astley on multiple occasions. He also professes to being a huge fan of Steve Winwood, having replaced a fitness instructor's CD with Winwood's "Higher Love" at the local gym and bragging that he owns "all of Steve Winwood's shit" on separate occasions. Despite making less than $400 a week at the bar, Dennis' family's wealth enables him to wear stylish clothing, live in a large apartment and drive a Range Rover. He is the most educated of The Gang, having graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1998 with a bachelors degree. Though it's not known what his major was, he mentions that he minored in psychology but failed to achieve his original ambition to become a veterinarian. He also has some artistic talent that he expresses by drawing cartoonish, large-breasted women, which Charlie finds oddly enticing. It is once hinted in the episode, "Dee Gives Birth" that Dennis may be interested in Norse mythology, after he threatens to rain down "the fury of Thor's hammer" onto the hospital, after the Nurse says she can not find Dee a room with a working television.

Unlike Charlie and Dee, Dennis was not a complete outcast in high school. According to Dennis, this was due mainly to his "good looks and charm" (though his popularity with women is hinted to have been mainly because of his family's wealth). In high school, he was notorious for hooking up with younger girls, according to Dee. However, it is revealed at his high school reunion that Dennis was much less popular than he'd claimed to be. He referred to everyone at the school as his "minions" and to himself as a "golden god," much to the annoyance of others, who told him at the reunion that he would always run off to hang out under the bleachers or next to a Dumpster with "Ronnie the Rat" (Mac) and "Dirtgrub" (Charlie). It was because of his narcissistic tendencies that he did not realize that nobody considered him popular other than himself. His delusions of popularity continued into college at the University of Pennsylvania, and in the episode "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry" he repeatedly states that he was "a legend" at his chapter of the Delta Omega Lambda fraternity, in fact his picture on the wall of the frat house was defaced and he was mocked and beaten by the current frat members. His narcissism caused him to believe that he would still be accepted and revered in the house, despite being in his 30s and when he was proven to be mistaken his behavior grew increasingly unhinged eventually leading to him (with help from Mac, Charlie and Frank) to put non lethal poison in the alcoholic drinks of the fraternity members and Dee. Despite his antisocial behavior, Dennis has shown on numerous occasions to have a softer side. He once developed a genuine affection for an indestructible junkyard cat he briefly adopted and named Special Agent Jack Bauer. In a later episode, he revealed that he had hoped to be married by the time he was 30, thus contradicting his love of anonymous and meaningless sex. However, shortly after expressing this desire and marrying an old girlfriend, he filed for divorce after getting irritated with his wife's behavior and desire to spend time with him. In the episode "Dee Gives Birth", despite showing complete indifference to his sister's pregnancy up until that point, he grew attached to the idea of becoming a father figure to (what he thought was) the child Dee was going to be raising.

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