It seems, in recent years, that networks have relaxed a bit when it comes to liquoring up their casts. When I was growing up (get off my lawn), characters who enjoyed the sauce were a cautionary tale. Al Bundy, Homer Simpson (or, more to the point, Barney Gumble) and, going way back, Otis of Mayberry, were fun to watch but not necessarily people you would want to hang out with. You could claim that this attitude started turned around in the 80s with the gang from “Cheers,” but I’d argue that the heavy drinkers on that show were still presented as “problem drinkers” rather than people you would want to hang out with.
Who broke ground in that arena? Well, I hate to say it, but I think it was these chicks.
Their affection for pink drinks and frank dialogue inspired fans to make a Cosmo party out of their weekly viewings. In the most recent (and abominable) movie there’s actually a touching scene where two of the characters work through an issue using alcohol to help speed the healing rather than add to the problem. And that’s nice and feels real. Because while drinking is a problem for many, for most it’s a fun and healthy part of adult friendships. Sure, some shows still take a weirdly puritanical approach. The kids from “Glee” discovered drinking, became alcoholics and then wound up covered in remorse vomit in the span of a single episode, because, of course they did.
These days, for the most part, drinking is seen as a fun and funny part of these characters lives. I don’t know why the networks (and cable) stopped worrying and learned to love the bombed, but I’m grateful.
9. “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”: I put these guys on here because they work in a bar and many of you seem to love them. I, on the other hand, think they’re *ssholes and would likely steal your shoes or maybe an organ or two if you let your defenses down around them.
8. “Community”: Oddly, drinking is still used as a bit of a cautionary tale with this cast. “Mixology Certification,” “Remedial Chaos Theory” and even the recent “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” all make the case that a drunk and or stoned Study Group is not one you want to be around. I doubt Harmon has a stick up his bum about alcohol so I see this as part of his continuing spoof of sitcom tropes.
7. “Big Bang Theory”: I know we’re not supposed to like this show, but homegirl knows how to pour.
6. “The League”: Just as long as it’s not Three Penis Wine.
5. “How I Met Your Mother”: Lock up your goats, this cast is not messing around. The other day I was trying to parse the differences between “Friends” and “HYIMYM.” There aren’t that many. But a point my friend made was that they’ve replaced the coffee shop setting with a bar. Just last night, the “Fun Bobby” episode of “Friends” was on in syndication. That’s a loathsomely heavy-handed anti-drinking episode from the early years. Give me MacLaren’s any day.
4. “Happy Endings”: If you’re looking for an even better “Friends” surrogate, I would suggest this cast. Provided they’re not drinking Dave’s moonshine.
3. “New Girl”: Did you watch this week? If you didn’t, you missed the most epic fictional drinking game of all time. (Hyperbole!) Watch the show and then check out the rules to “True American.” FDR!
2. “Parks and Recreation”: Two words: Snake Juice.
1. “Cougar Town”: Of all the casts on all the shows these six (we won’t count Travis) are probably the most in need of an intervention. But I hope they never have one. Jules Cobb’s wine addiction is treated as a quirk. Like Monica Gellar’s OCD, it’s played for laughs but never for drama. Quirk city. So fill up your Big Joe (RIP) or Big Carl and get ready for a game of Penny Can.