Sometimes it’s hard to be a drinker and feel normal. The nancy-pants goodie-two-shoes of the world have neutered most of popular culture to the point that you’d think nobody in this world drinks recreationally without it ending in DUI, homicide, rape, or a big vomit-y trip to the hospital. It’s a pretty grim depiction of a fairly common part of most adults’ lives. In movies and TV, you’re pretty hard pressed to find people living and drinking as normal people do. It can make you feel like something’s wrong with you, as if partaking in the completely legal (and healthy) act of imbibing alcohol makes you some sort of outcast. A misfit. A pariah.
Well fear not, fellow boozers. I’ve compiled a list of some great TV shows from recent years to help you feel right at home. Let’s dig in…
5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – It’s no surprise the characters on this show drink often: the show is set in a bar. Four friends (and one “Dad” played by Danny Devito) run Paddy’s Pub, a small Philly bar where a lot more goes down than it probably should. Booze is almost always to blame. Hilarious through and through, the gang has taken on North Korea, fought in underground fight clubs, slept with each others parents (ew), and lit dog shit on fire trying to intimidate an Israeli immigrant. Here’s a clip from the show where Charlie has to attend a court-sanctioned AA meeting after the aforementioned dog-shit-on-fire incident…drunk:
4. The Wire – Sweet slippery Christmas, I hope real cops don’t drink this much. Actually, I wouldn’t blame them if they did, if they had to deal with anything even remotely like the Baltimore depicted here. Gritty, raw, emotional, and often based on real events and people, The Wire pulls no punches. When the crew isn’t up on the wire or staking out Marlo and his crew, they’re downing booze by the damn gallon. It’s entirely justified, as the only reason anyone needs to drink in this show is simply being alive in Baltimore (just like real life!). In the Season 5 premiere, I counted at least three scenes set in bars. This is not atypical.
I couldn’t find a good drinking clip on the internets, so here’s a funny one where McNulty and Bunk perform an entire scene using one very NSFW word. You’ve been warned.
3. Three Sheets – We’ve mentioned Zane and his show before, but it bears repeating that this lucky bastard gets paid to goof around and travel the friggin’ globe drinking the best (and sometimes the worst) the world has to offer. I mean damnit all, this bastard has the job of a lifetime and he actually does it. You’d expect a fellow drunkard to screw it up and get fired, but he’s actually doing better and better and getting more episodes added per season (probably because it’s his job to drink on the job). Note to THE WORLD: if anyone is looking for someone to do basically the same thing but on a different network and show, contact me. I will make Zane look like a damned clown. Here’s a Season 1 highlight reel (and every single episode is available on Hulu).
2. Mad Men – Maybe this is how the world was meant to be. Set in the early 1960s in a Madison Avenue advertising firm, this was a time and place where people drank and smoked and nobody hassled them about it for one second. Maybe they fully understood the risks, maybe they didn’t, but they didn’t let that stop them from having a good time. Men could drink at work, at home, and nobody even gave a crap if they drove home a little tipsy (they just drove reaaaally slow). But they didn’t stop there. The writers use their period-perfect recreation to say profound and beautiful things about drinking. Here’s a choice quote:
Roger Sterling: You don’t know how to drink. Your whole generation, you drink for the wrong reasons. My generation… we drink because it’s good. Because it feels better than unbuttoning your collar. Because we deserve it. We drink because it’s what men do.
He sure said it.
In the following clip, we see main character Don Draper in a smoke-filled bar, enjoying an Old Fashioned, and chatting with a server about why he smokes the brand of cigarettes he does.
1. Deadwood – Seems like the farther back in history these shows go, the more drinking there is. Deadwood is no exception. The Old West has never been portrayed as rough or realistic as it was on HBO’s Deadwood. Didn’t matter the time of day or the occasion, it was always a good time for a drink. Here’s a sampling of some dialogue from the show:
Jane: Maybe I will have a fuckin’ drink, just for sociability’s sake…’cause I am a fuckin’ drunk
Joanie: What’s your preference?
Jane: That it ain’t been previously swallowed…bourbon, if ya got it
If you didn’t notice the names, that’s the way the women talk and drink on this show. The whiskey flows pretty much non-stop in Deadwood, as do the profanities and quite a bit of blood. As you’ll see briefly in the clip below, some people even made their living by setting up a few boxes on the side of the thoroughfare with a sign reading “Whiskey Shots”, and had more than enough business to get by. There’s a lot more in this fan-made montage set to some Johnny Cash highlighting some of the rough living and hard drinking in Deadwood.