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Kaitlin Olson Credits Authenticity As The Secret To It's Always Sunny's Longevity - Exclusive

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" started in 2005, following Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton), Ronald "Mac" McDonald (Rob McElhenney), and Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson) as the proprietors of Philadelphia's Paddy's Pub (along with Frank Reynolds, played by Danny DeVito). "The Gang," as the friends call themselves, are notoriously amoral schemers, with the long-running series following the group's misadventures.

Kaitlin Olson excels as the approval-starved "Sweet Dee," providing some of the series' funniest moments. In a new exclusive interview with Looper, the Emmy-nominated actress reveals her take on the secret of the series' long-running sitcom success: its authenticity. With the series' creators also being its writers and stars, everyone involved has the freedom and motivation to try to make each other laugh to really get the performances, jokes, and scenes to click. It's precisely that authenticity, she argues, that has appealed to so many fans for so long.

Olson notes how "It's Always Sunny" didn't originally seem to have the makings of such a monumentally long-running series. It started as "an underdog story." Olson auditioned for the role of Dee, but the series otherwise had its foundations in "a group of friends who got together and wrote this thing and then shot it themselves because you can't explain tone to a studio," Olson says.

Can I offer you some nice authenticity in this trying time?

The series took a little bit of time to find its footing. "John Landgraf liked it and picked it up," Kaitlin Olson explains, "and [for] the 1st season, nobody watched it!" It may not have had the numbers to justify renewal, but "because John believed in it, we got to stay on the air," Olson says, an act of faith on Landgraf's part that "kept happening year after year." 

Throughout this whole early period, the show "had this tiny, underground audience who prides themselves so much on being there from the beginning," she says. Olson explains the origins of the series' longevity simply: The team kept it authentic. "I think the reason that we've been able to be on for so long, besides John Landgraf's belief in us," she notes, "is that we're really, truly, honestly doing it for ourselves." 

It's a privilege they have because the performers are the creators. Olson describes, "It's amazing to have your co-stars also be the people who write it and create it, because when we're in a scene together, I'm trying to make them laugh, and they're trying to make me laugh," a process that gives the series' creators clarity. "Once we feel like we got it, we move on," she adds. That authenticity wins fans, or, as Olson notes, "If you're authentic and true to yourself, people can pick up on that."

Kaitlin Olson's newest comedy feature, "Champions," is now in theaters.