Television's Booze Hounds


"During that time period, it was typical to 'liquor up' your clients to better extract a deal," said Brian Van Flandern, a New York mixologist, spirits historian and educator on spirits and cocktails to major corporations. "Plying business associates with drinks was an effective sales tactic, and those drinks were, on average, significantly higher in alcohol content than they are today."

"In today's workplace, there would be very little tolerance for this – less tolerance than ever before – especially in jobs where people's safety and well being are involved," said Angres, adding that even isolated incidents of alcohol abuse would raise red flags.

"Especially over the last ten years, alcoholism has been more fully understood as a disease. But in the sixties, bad behavior resulting from heavy drinking could be considered 'macho' and even romantic, rather than as a compulsive use of alcohol despite adverse consequences.

"People in that era probably would have fought going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, because of the shame attached to it and because they believed they should be able to act the way they want."

Tommy Gavin of 'Rescue Me'

Denis Leary of "Rescue Me" on FX.

TV's Alcohol Problem

"Rescue Me" is FX's series that pulls no punches about depicting excessive drinking. Having just ended its season, the show stars Denis Leary as firefighter Tommy Gavin, who's been waging a vicious battle with the bottle.

"You can't glamorize Tommy's drinking," said the series' co-creator, Peter Tolan, who's also one of its executive producers. "It's alcoholism and it's ugly. This is not Auntie Mame with a side car by the mantle."

Tolan said Tommy self-medicates, largely because he lost so many of his friends on 9/11. But one reason that the character has not been able to hold on to his sporadic sobriety is because the prompting to get sober always came from an outside source.

"But this past season, Tommy may have hit bottom," said Tolan. The character was given a bottle of liquor that was poisoned, which he shared with his teenage daughter who also has burgeoning drinking issues. Tommy uncharacteristically blacked out and, when he came to, had no memory of where his daughter was. After she was found unharmed, Tommy committed to sobriety.

"A handful of people have approached me saying they're in recovery and that the only thing that keeps them straight is looking at the f***ing train wreck that is that character's life," says Tolan.

'Terriers': Hank Dolworth

"Terriers"'s Donal Logue

Another train wreck trying to get back on track is the character Hank Dolworth from FX's new dramatic series "Terriers," which debuted last Wednesday.

"When we meet Hank, he's been sober for about a year and a half," said Donal Logue, who portrays Dolworth, an unlicensed private investigator. Logue said that later in the season the audience will learn how drinking is connected with his wife's leaving him and his leaving the police force.

"Those chain of events led to the darkest bottom of Hank's alcoholism," said Logue, who added that he doesn't drink personally but knows about alcohol-related issues from family members and friends. In the first episode, Dolworth is seen going into a liquor store – he eyes the spirits-laden shelves with great yearning – to buy a bottle for his ex-partner who later calls him on his demons.

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