In the New York Times Alessandra Stanley once remarked, “Television has a drinking problem”. More and more of our TV characters are gracing our screens, and you might not even realize it! Some of our most beloved characters are fueled by alcohol, but the comedic effect usually puts a damper on any serious issues that may be lurking in the characters’ metaphorical closet. On any given night you can find a drunken character on TV, falling into some ridiculous incident or saying something outrageously inappropriate (that you kind of secretly wish you had the nerve to say!)
With the exception of one or two of the named characters, most never confront their alcoholism. Instead, it serves as a comedic tool or crutch that they utilize throughout the show to explain away odd behavior and ridiculous situations. So why the one sided story? What about the morning afters, the awkward one night stands, the hit-and-runs, the puking in the toilet, the hurting and alienating your family and friends, part of alcoholism? Well, many believe that the reality isn’t so entertaining. Of course, there are shows like Celebrity Rehab and Intervention that portray recovering alcoholics, but rarely do we see a show where both the good and ugly side of drinking is depicted! Perhaps because it’s not so entertaining, or perhaps producers think it’s just too real, but whatever the reasons, it doesn’t stop them from showing us alcoholics at work in fun and wild ways! (minus the consequences)
10. Karen Walker: Will & Grace
Karen Walker was one of the most beloved characters on Will & Grace. Originally supposed to be just a supporting character in the show, Karen’s hilarious antics had viewers so enthralled that she soon became a regular staple in the show. Karen is best remembered as the sassy millionairess, with a high-pitched voice and an alcoholic. Her dependence on substances didn’t stop at alcohol as she frequently hinted at abusing subscription and illegal drugs too! This crazy character was beloved by all, but her dependence on alcohol could only be described as troubling – thankfully, she’s just a fictitious character.
9. Norm: Cheers
Hilary Norman “Norm” Peterson, played by George Wendt, was everybody’s favorite drunk in the 80’s. Every time he walked into a bar he was met with everyone cheering his name, highlighting just how often he visited his favorite watering hole! Norm has become such a memorable character that he’s been referenced in How I met your Mother, The Simpsons and even Adventure Time!
8. Lucille Bluth: Arrested Development
Lucille is the matriarch of the Bluth family and mother to Gob, Michael, Buster and adoptive mother of Lindsay and Hel-loh “Annyong”. The dysfunctional family is made even more difficult by Lucille who is accustomed to living the high life. Reported to never have even looked a waitress in the eye, Lucille is often callous and immoral around people that she considers lesser than herself (which is pretty much everyone). Her behavior is made even more erratic by her drinking and substance abuse, and she’s rarely on screen without a martini glass in her hand.
7. Bender: Futurama
Who doesn’t love an alcoholic robot? Interestingly, alcohol is actually necessary for Bender to function and he becomes dysfunctional and erratic without it (not to mention he grows a rusty beard!) Even so, Bender’s entire personality seems to be based off of an extremely high functioning alcoholic and his actions are often the cause of many of the hilarious situations the Futurama crew find themselves in.
6. Charlie Harper: Two and a Half Men
Charlie Harper, played and inspired by actor Charlie Sheen, is a jingle song writer who lives in a luxurious Malibu beach front house. His hobbies included womanizing and drinking. His brother, Alan and Alan’s son, Jake often stay with Charlie as Alan tries to get back on his feet after a divorce with his wife. The tension in the house between the raging alcoholic, Charlie and his white-collared brother, Alan is what made the show so successful.
5. Al Bundy: Married with Children
Al Bundy is the main character in the popular 90’s show Married with Children. As an unsuccessful shoe salesman, Al is often seen lamenting about his life while sitting on the sofa, beer in one hand, the other shoved down his pants, watching TV. His alcoholism seems to be the result of living a life of dashed dreams after a broken leg forced him to quit football. He’s married to Peg and has two kids, Kelly and Bud (and yes, Bud is named after the beer).
4. Don Draper: Madmen
Donald “Don” Francie Draper, played by John Hamm, is a character from Mad Men that was loosely based on Draper Daniels, the creative director at Leo Burnett Advertising Agency in Chicago in the 1950’s and the man responsible for the Marlboro Man advertising campaign. He’s a very high-functioning alcoholic who regularly has four martinis at lunch and still remains respected for his talents in the work place. The dark and mysterious character has a sad past, and his alcoholism appears to be a result of his difficult childhood and his alcoholic late-father.
3. Sterling Archer: Archer
Sterling Malory Archer is the main character in the American animated show, Archer. Archer is a former ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service) agent, who turns to a life of crime after the ISIS is shut down by police. The character is voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. The character was heavily influenced by James Bond and is considered attractive, arrogant and a heavy drinker. His mother is also portrayed as an alcoholic.
2. Saul Tigh: Battlestar Galactica
For all you sci-fi enthusiasts out there, you’ll recognize Saul Tigh as being the fictional character on Battlestar Galactica. Saul is played by actor Michael Hogen. Saul is the executive officer on the Galactica and hated by most on the ship, although he suggests that this is part of his job description when he said “If the crew doesn’t hate the XO, then he’s not doing his job”. He doesn’t understand why civilians won’t accept martial law or why they’re uncomfortable with living hard lives. All of these abhorrent characteristics are made even more troubling by his ongoing battle with alcoholism.
1. Homer Simpson: The Simpsons
Homer Simpson has been the star of the metaphorical alcoholic-ball for a long time, and understandably so! He’s given us such honest truths as “Beer: The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems” – and no truer a sentence has been said by him! The lovable alcoholic’s favorite beverage is Duff beer and his watering hole is the infamous Moe’s Tavern, but he manages to keep it together enough to still work at the Nuclear Power Plant and make sure that his family is always (relatively well) taken care of. Nonetheless, his alcoholism has gotten him into more than one pickle!