10.20.09

aa on the tv

with one comment

This past fall, when I saw Joseph Fiennes alternately sitting in an AA circle or hitting a flask in FlashForward, I had to admit recovery is officially trendy in tvland.

Alcoholism has always been used in film and tv, sure, a common gimmick to add depth to a character or even drive the plot: will he get images sloshed and fail to save the world because he is in a blackout? There is of course the Mad Men extreme, where alcohol and its abuse is not only a factor in the stories but a crucial part of the scenery. Then we have the (legacy) tortured Sipowicz, whatsername in Prison Break, Bubbles in The Wire, (who lands Steve Earl for a sponsor, how cool is that?) and more than one character in Brothers. Who am I forgetting? Oh, damn, the daddy of them all, Denis Leary’s peerless Rescue Me.

I thought back to Otis, the hapless townotis-from-mayberry drunk on Andy Griffith. TV alcoholics were formerly portrayed, if at all, as sloppy buffoons. There’s a drunk in the Simpsons (wait! didn’t he get sober?), and I think Al Bundy had some issues. Lately, TV series addicts and alcoholics are often the protagonist and usually somewhat sympathetic. At least what I’ve seen, which is detailed above.

So what? I guess it’s kinda cool. I’m glad. If addiction has a place in tvland, so do meetings.

Two points I couldn’t work in above: 1)TV writers of the world, meetings are essentially never held in a church sanctuary. 2) Intervention and Celebrity Rehab just aren’t a part of my world. I know nothing about them.

cross-posted from liminal screeds

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Written by xty

February 28, 2010 at 14:50

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  1. You forgot Foster Brooks, who was ahead of your time…He made a career out of playing a drunk…

    Rob W.

    February 28, 2010 at 15:50


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