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Dennis Explains 'The Implication' of Saying No

Scott Santens
Scott Santens
6 min read
Dennis Explains 'The Implication' of Saying No

In the third episode of the sixth season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 2010, the gang buys a boat. In this episode there's a scene between Mac and Dennis that provides a clear example of what is and isn't consent, and how full consent does not truly exist as long as someone is afraid that saying no to someone who wants something from them could result in serious injury or death. The scene is about sex, but I think it can easily also be understood as being a metaphor for any action where someone lacks the power to say no to that action, out of fear of grievous harm befalling them as a direct result of refusal. If you've never watched it, you can watch it or read the transcript below.


Dennis: We’ve gotta pop by the department store, pick up the mattress. I’m gonna get a nice one too.

Mac: The what? The mattress? What do we need a mattress for?

Dennis: What do you mean what do we need a mattress for? Why in the hell do you think we just spent all that money on a boat? The whole point of buying a boat in the first place is to get the ladies nice and tipsy topside, so we can take em to a nice comfortable place below deck, and you know… they can’t refuse. Because of the implication.

Mac: Oh, uh… okay. You had me going there for the first part. The second half kind of threw me.

Dennis: Dude, dude, think about it. She’s out in the middle of nowhere with some dude she barely knows. She looks around and what does she see? Nothing but open ocean. “Ahhh, there’s nowhere for me to run. What am I going to do? Say no?”

Mac: Okay… that seems really dark.

Dennis: Nah, it’s not dark. You’re misunderstanding me bro.

Mac: I think I am.

Dennis: Yeah, you are. Because if the girl said no, then the answer is obviously no.

Mac: No. Right.

Dennis: But the thing is she’s not going to say no. She would never say no. Because of the implication.

Mac: Now… you’ve said that word, “implication” a couple of times. What implication?

Dennis: The implication that things might go wrong for her if she refuses to sleep with me. Not that things are going to go wrong for her, but she’s thinking that they will.

Mac: But it sounds like she doesn’t want to have sex.

Dennis: Why aren’t you understanding this?

Mac: I don’t…

Dennis: She doesn’t know whether she wants to have sex with me. That’s not the issue.

Mac: Are you going to hurt women?

Dennis: I’m not going to hurt these women!

Mac: Oh okay.

Dennis: Why would I ever hurt these women?

Mac: I don’t know.

Dennis: I feel like you’re not getting this at all.

Mac: I’m not getting it.

Dennis: God damn... (looks over at woman shopping nearby) well don’t you look at me like that. You certainly wouldn’t be in any danger.

Mac: So they are in danger!

Dennis: No one’s in any danger! How could I make that any more clear to you? Okay. It’s an implication of danger.

Mac: (Stares silently at Dennis in response)


This scene has stuck with me for years, because I feel like Mac in this scene, while the majority of the rest of the world just accepts it as totally fine how people accept poverty wages, no benefits, and terrible working conditions because of the normalized implications inherent in not accepting them.

Here's the thing: as long as poverty exists, poverty exists as a threat to get people to do things without their full consent. In some cases, like in the case of sex work, that can be actual sex, in which case, it cannot be faithfully said that all sex is fully consensual as long as it's agreed to out of survival fears. In other cases, like for example minimum wage labor, people are accepting minimum wages out of fear of having nothing, and so they accept anything. This complete lack of bargaining power is behind low wages, dangerous conditions, terrible hours, poor treatment, etc.

To help clarify this point that the lack of power to say no to employment means a lack of true consent to employment, I've made some minor edits to the dialog. Here's the new exchange between Mac and Dennis as they discuss the market for labor in an economy where poverty exists. It's basically how I interpret the scene every time I watch it.

Dennis: We've got to pop by Monster.com and put up a job opening for a shit job that I'm legally not allowed to pay anything less for someone to take.

Mac: The what? A shit job? Why would you offer someone a shit job?

Dennis: What do you mean why would I offer someone a shit job? Why in the hell do you think we've never eliminated poverty? The whole point of poverty in the first place is to get the workers afraid and stressed, so we can offer them a nice low wage without benefits or dignity, and you know… they can’t refuse. Because of the implication.

Mac: Oh, uh… okay?

Dennis: Dude, dude, think about it. They're out in the middle of the job market with some employer offering minimum wage. They look around and what do they see? Nothing but unemployed people. “Ahhh, there’s tens of millions of people in need of a job. What am I going to do? Say no?”

Mac: Okay… that seems really dark.

Dennis: Nah, it’s not dark. You’re misunderstanding me bro.

Mac: I think I am.

Dennis: Yeah, you are. Because if the worker said no, then the answer is obviously no.

Mac: No. Right.

Dennis: But the thing is they're not going to say no. They would never say no. Because of the implication.

Mac: Now… you’ve said that word, “implication” a couple of times. What implication?

Dennis: The implication that things might go wrong for them if they refuse to work for me. Not that things are going to go wrong for them, but they're thinking that they will.

Mac: But it sounds like they don’t want to work for you.

Dennis: Why aren’t you understanding this?

Mac: I don’t…

Dennis: They don’t know whether they want to work for me. That’s not the issue.

Mac: Are you going to hurt workers?

Dennis: I’m not going to hurt workers!

Mac: Oh okay.

Dennis: Why would I ever hurt workers?

Mac: I don’t know.

Dennis: I feel like you’re not getting this at all.

Mac: I’m not getting it.

Dennis: God damn... (looks over at rich person nearby) well don’t you look at me like that. You certainly wouldn’t be in any danger.

Mac: So they are in danger!

Dennis: No one’s in any danger! How could I make that any more clear to you? Okay. It’s an implication of danger.

Mac: (Stares silently at Dennis in response)


As long as poverty exists, there is an implication of danger that things might go wrong for us if we refuse the jobs that are offered to us, or refuse to do things our employers ask us to do, or if we say things employers might not like. Not that things are definitely going to go wrong for us if we say no to these things. It's possible we'll find a different and better job, or we won't lose our jobs for saying no or disagreeing with our employers. It's possible we'll get some form of assistance from the government (even though 13 million people in poverty aren't). It's possible we'll get some help from our friends or families or charities that prevent the worst from happening. But as long as the possibility exists that the worst could happen, that we could fall into poverty and die as a result, then we're only saying yes because we can't really say no, and that is not how consent works.

Don't be a Dennis. Support unconditional basic income, so everyone has the power to say no.


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Unconditional basic income (UBI) advocate with a crowdfunded basic income; Author of Let There Be Money; Senior Advisor to Humanity Forward; BasicIncomeToday.com editor; Fund for Humanity board member