I spent most of last week watching the US version of Shameless. The show, the plot of which revolves around alcoholism and poverty, is a scrappy affair that builds interest steadily, explores characters and keeps a good hold on plot development. It is a kickass viewing experience and much of it was dominated by the main character Frank Gallagher, an infuriating yet endearing drunk who lets his family of six scramble around to deal with life while he downs drink after drink and eloquently blames the government. Watching the show made me realise that in most of my favourite shows, alcohol and alcohol abuse are either plot devices (for a few episodes) or is a dominant background character (if there is such a thing.) Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland at the railway tracks were the rambling, pissed off drunks. Hank Moody from Californication was the player. Don Draper was the smooth scotch swiller. As for the gang from How I met your mother, I mean why do they even have apartments? They might as well pitch a tent at MacLaren’s and brush their teeth with beer.
There’s actually probably a lot of thought that goes into TV drinking. Drinking is not really drinking unless it’s DRINKING. Being hammered isn’t really being hammered unless the plot requires you to be HAMMERED. Getting bajaed isn’t really….I should stop. Well, as long as you get the point. If I were on TV, I could be in a bar for the better part of the day and still go home to tighten up my essay on socialism and the post-modern world. I’m never drunk till I’m required to be. In an episode of Community, a drunk dial leads to a merry vodka shot meets scotch montage of the person that got drunk dialed, putting ‘em away. The idea is that Jeff needed to settle the equation by drunk dialing Britta who drunk dialed him first. And it had to be genuine. Ding Ding. Plot point. A TV binge also makes for great comedy. Take that episode where Ross drinks himself silly when he found out that Joey and Rachel were a thing. For weeks that speech “L is for love,” was funny even out of context.
So far the best TV Drinking I’ve seen is on NBC’s Parks and Rec where the characters lose all sense of reality after downing, ‘Snake Juice’, an invented drink. The acting was so top of the line- no slurring or exaggerated stumbling- that it amazed me. The morning after scene was even funnier. I wish I could go to work with pillows scotch-taped to my head. What are your favourite TV alcohol moments?