Although it belongs to one of the creators of depraved sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, there is nothing particularly funny about Rob McElhenney’s office, a bland, sparsely decorated room in the corner of a bungalow on the CBS studio lot in Los Angeles. As I wait for him to arrive, in the last days before the coronavirus pandemic shuts down productions across Hollywood, my eyes are drawn to the only unusual feature in the room: a doorbell-sized button built into the desk.
A moment later McElhenney breezes in, walks behind the desk and presses it. Across the room, the door swings silently closed. “When we saw it,” he says, grimacing as he takes a seat on the couch, “we were like: ‘Oh God, this is from a bygone era.’” It’s the sort of sinister tech Always Sunny’s creepy Dennis might employ; indeed, the same kind of button was cited in the 2017 sexual assault allegations against former NBC news anchor Matt Lauer.
Megan Ganz, co-creator of McElhenney’s new show for Apple, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, found an identical button in her office next door. “We were making jokes about how wholly inappropriate they are, but then Meg was like: ‘I use it all the time!’ You realise the button that closes the door is not the issue. The one that locks the door, that’s the problem.”