Sirens premieres on the USA Network on March 6th, and it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that Denis Leary — who played a cop in The Job and a fireman in Rescue Me — is behind another series involving emergency vehicles. Sirens, exec produced by Leary, is a raunchy comedy based on a British series about the misadventures of three emergency medical technicians in Chicago. Now, when I think of Denis Leary, I usually think of hard-drinking characters, thus giving rise to the list below of television’s all-time hardest drinkers.
10. Norm and Cliff, Cheers — Here’s the thing about Norm and Cliff: You never saw them without a beer. They loved beer so much, they often spun theories on it, including one rumored theory in which Cliff suggested that while alcohol does kill brain cells, it kills the slowest first, which allow the fastest brain cells to thrive! (I like this theory) They were happy drunks, though. Never belligerent. Why? Because they never paid for a single beer.
9. Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation — It’s not that Ron Swanson is a drunk, or that alcohol even affects his everyday life, but that’s only because the man holds his liquor better than any other character on this list save for the top choice, though he has an extreme aversion to clear alcohols, which are “for rich women on diets.” Swanson’s one weakness? Snake juice.
8. Karen Walker, Will & Grace — Karen Walker’s only true love is alcohol. When she goes to children’s birthday parties, she brings juice boxes. Gallon-sized boxes of juicey-juicey wine. She measures time not by hours, but by the numbers of drinks she’s had, and her favorite breakfast drink is orange juice and vodka, hold the orange juice.
7. Calamity Jane, Deadwood — In an era when everyone drank, Calamity Jane could drink every man under the table, which is usually where she slept. In fact, the real-life Calamity Jane was such a drunk that she once rented a horse and carriage to take her on a one-mile joy ride and didn’t even notice when she wound up 90 miles away. In fact, in the end, it was alcohol that basically killer her.
6. Jimmy McNulty, The Wire — Jimmy McNulty, who drank so much it cost him his marriage, drank even more when his wife left him. Save for season four (when they killed fun Bobby), the man ended most every night in a bar, and was so given to whiskey that a McNulty is actual slang for a pint of Jameson.
5. Lucille Bluth, Arrested Development — I have no idea what Lucille Bluth is like sober. I’m fairly certain we’ve never seen her without a drink in her hand. Lucille Bluth’s prop department was the stemware section at Crate and Barrel.
4. The Entire Cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — Look, this show wouldn’t exist if the characters weren’t perpetually drunk. THAT’S WHERE ALL THE IDEAS COME FROM, MAN. Like, plugging open wounds with trash, eating stickers, and Fight Milk! The first alcoholic dairy based protein drink for bodyguards. They also taught us that grain alcohol is the only way to prepare for a riot. Hell, these characters are so drunk that the actors often have to get drunk to play them.
3. Tommy Gavin, Rescue Me — For much of Rescue Me’s run, alcoholism is a huge part of Gavin’s character arc. In fact, after remaining sober for one year, at one point during the series Tommy not only gives up his sobriety, he talks everyone else in his AA meeting to give it up, too, resulting in the death of one of the members to a drunken car accident. That member’s husband turned right around and shot Tommy twice. Did he quit alcohol then? Not immediately. Alcoholism ran deep in Gavin (and his family).
2. Don Draper, Mad Men — For a few seasons, Don Draper was a highly functioning alcoholic, a hero, a man’s man. But somewhere along the way, the alcoholism got the better of him, and lately, Don Draper has become a pathetic drunk, one who shows up to meetings late, passes out on top of co-workers, sleeps with his secretaries, and generally makes terrible, terrible decisions. For Don Draper, the perfect time for a drink is right after he’s finished another drink.
1. Frank Gallagher, Shameless — All due respect to everyone else on this list, but nobody drinks more than Frank Gallagher. The man goes on benders and wakes up in Mexico. Frank Gallagher, weeks away from dying of liver failure and incapable of holding down liquor in the current season of Shameless, has his own son funnel alcohol into his anus. THAT’S COMMITMENT, FOLKS. Drink to the death!
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