After 13 seasons working on a show that makes a mockery of cancer scares, child molestation, dumpster babies, and cannibalism, series developer and actor Glenn Howerton has only one regret: The title of a single episode. Specifically, a musical episode during the show’s third season that has aged into one of the cult comedy’s most beloved. It’s called “Sweet Dee’s Dating a Retarded Person,” and revolves around Dee (Kaitlin Olson) dating an amateur rapper whom Dennis (Howerton) thinks has an intellectual disability.
“One of the few regrets I have. I would change that title now,” Howerton told GQ during a recent interview. “I do find that title offensive, personally. At the time I don’t even know what I was thinking.”
Despite the cringe-worthy title, the episode did birth the Dayman and the Nightman, two mythical rivals who would later appear in the entirely musical episode, “The Nightman Cometh.” That episode saw Charlie (Charlie Day) penning a coming-of-age romantic musical that to everyone else sounds like a bunch of rape jokes.
“Any time we deal with that kind of subject matter, I like to think it’s coming from a more intelligent place,” Day told GQ. “A rape joke is not remotely a funny thing; a man writing a musical that he thinks is about self-empowerment, and not realizing that all his lyrics sound like they’re about a child being molested, is a funny thing. The joke is coming from confusion and misunderstanding, which are classic tropes of all comedy.”