One of Carmen’s final appearances is in “Mac Fights Gay Marriage,” where Mac is outraged that Carmen’s getting married, especially since he was hoping she’d go back to him after she got bottom surgery. Mac tries to stop their engagement by going on a tirade against gay marriage; it doesn’t work because nobody on the show (not even Mac himself, really) believes that Carmen and Nick’s marriage qualifies as gay.
It might not sound like much, but all of this was pretty fresh and progressive at the time, especially for a 2000s-era sitcom that’s famous for being dark and edgy. The supposedly tamer “How I Met Your Mother,” for instance, was far more thoughtless and cruel with its jokes about trans people. Not only is there a six-year-long running gag about Ted’s biggest fear being that a woman he dates will turn out trans, but it seemed pretty clear that neither the characters nor the writers considered trans women to be anything more than men playing pretend.
The fact that “Always Sunny” treated Carmen as a woman, even back in 2005 with their questionable jokes, is a lot more impressive considering how transphobic the average sitcom was at the time. “Mac Fights Gay Marriage” came out in 2010, the same year “Family Guy” aired that horrendous “Quagmire’s Dad” episode where Brian vomits for thirty seconds straight at the realization he slept with a transwoman. “Always Sunny” avoided such tired, offensive gags, and spent most of Carmen’s episodes ruthlessly making fun of the type of person who’d react like Brian did. Brittany Daniel might not be returning to the show any time soon, but her time as Carmen showed that “Always Sunny” has always been a step above the rest.