I’m going to let you in on a little secret — they want you to think a few after-work drinks is normal. There is practically a TV trope of the working adult coming home in the evening and cracking a beer/ sipping a glass of wine/ mixing a martini. Our culture is low-key in love with alcohol and that’s something to be at least aware of.
Not too long ago, I saw the new James Bond movie in theaters (…I don’t recommend it) and I was struck by the prominence of alcohol in this action flick. For example, during a fight scene, a tense moment was lifted when Bond poured himself and a fellow agent a shot as if ingesting motor-skill impairing beverages in the middle of strenuous combat is both normal and advisable.
Today, I’m thinking about all the alcohol that crops up in shows and movies. First, I want to preface that I’m not the best person to talk about this as I don’t consume either of these media broadly…but, this is a blog, not an academic journal, so I’m going to share my thoughts regardless. Also… references are dated because, I’m behind on the times (apologies!).
Bond (James), Bond
We all know that Bond, the fictional MI6 agent is a fan of martinis (vodka specifically, shaken, not stirred). However, did you know that his alcohol consumption is much greater in the books than in the movies? In Ian Fleming’s original stories, Bond reportedly consumes 317 drinks, which given the timeframe is an average of 92 units of alcohol weekly — which would probably kill you…in a painful, horrible way.
How I Met Your Mother
For those of you who don’t know the popular sitcom that ran from 2005-2014, HIMYM centers around an NYC-based friend group and explores life, love, and comically obscure situations through the lens of the protagonist, Ted, as he recounts stories from his younger years leading up to how he met his future wife. The popular hangout spot for the gang is MacLaren’s Pub, a convenient dive right under Ted’s apartment. Alcohol is pervasive throughout the show and is used as a device to grease the wheels for crucial plot points (blackouts and other incidences of alcohol-induced idiocy). Luckily for this post, some diligent and inquiring human over at tantanoo.com did his research and came up with the following figures for the main casts drinking habits.
Reality television is uninterested in your quiet nights in with a cup of tea and an Agatha Christie mystery (yawn!). Instead, this genre is biased towards drama, which can be easily ignited with alcohol. Shows like Jersey Shore, Southern Charm, and Bad Girls Club regularly showcase the casts’ nights out or boozy lunches and brunches. A University of Nottingham study analyzed 5,129 reality TV show clips and found that alcohol appeared in 42% of the clips and 100% of all full episodes analyzed — it turns out that the reality genre features alcohol even more than scripted TV (but note that the quantity of scripted TV shows is much greater). There is naturally a selection bias in the reality clips that networks choose to air (everyone has dry nights), but still, the focus on alcohol is kind of insane.
AlcoholRehabGuide.org highlights the abundance of alcohol references in scripted TV shows with these five programs topping the list: The Simpsons, Cheers, Mad Men, Shameless, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The popularity of these shows has even led to increases in alcohol sales based on the drinks the characters most enjoy.
In my half-marathon journey (more here & here), I decided to temporarily give up alcohol. This was a fine experience for me, but whenever I said, “I’m temporarily giving up alcohol,” people (including my doctor) gave me wide eyes as if I were about to announce a pregnancy (because why else would someone willingly give up alcohol!?! Lol!). Anyway, giving up alcohol was a benefit to me as it helped me compete better in my race (securing a sub-2-hour time — yaas!) and the experience was a good excuse to consider these issues from a place of remove.
The overabundance of alcohol in the media can deceive you into thinking a few drinks after work every day is normal. (But is it really?)
¡Consuming more than two drinks a day can significantly increase your risk for CANCER and heart problems among other things!
Alcohol can be fun! (<– speaking from experience)
But it can also LITERALLY RUIN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE… so be careful ❤