Is it just me, or does pop culture geared toward Women Of A Certain Age involve a lot of drinking? Not necessarily hardcore drinking; I’m not sure anyone tends to get more than tipsy. But it’s this thing now, and I don’t know why.
I’ll be honest; I don’t imbibe. I used to occasionally be polite and take sips of people’s home brew when it was offered, but no matter how many times I was told “you can’t taste the alcohol in this,” I always could, and I always thought it tasted awful. It just doesn’t appeal. Not only that, but my bipolar disorder makes me wary of the loss of control involved in getting drunk, and alcoholism runs in my family, and so on. So the drinking thing has passed me by.
But the women of Sex and the City are of course famous for their cosmopolitans. Wine-drinking mom memes flood my Facebook page pretty much every day. Girls’ nights out always seem to involve getting hammered, for some reason. I only know the “appletini” exists from female-oriented programming.
I wonder how much of it involves the idea that, in order to be equal to men, women have to do all the same things as men. But, you know, still feminine. So instead of pounding back beers, women guzzle wine. Instead of shots, the “girl drinks” so memorably featured in the Kids in the Hall sketch “Girl Drink Drunk.” (“It’s a girl drink . . . tastes like candy . . . .”) Men can get hammered, so women can, too!
There’s also the inhibition-loosening factor. That’s how you break down barriers with people you aren’t sure you trust; you get sloshed with them. (On a semi-related note, there are a lot of slang terms for “drunk.”) Secrets come out. It’s funny or meaningful or whatever for the audience. You need to get your female characters to open up, so you get ’em drunk together.
Even though these are ostensibly aimed at women, I suspect there is also a bit of the dignity-shredding factor. Our culture sees women as being inherently a little above men. It’s only a hint, and of course men are obviously the ones who are really superior, but women are just more cultured than men. It’s slobs-versus-snobs in a weird way. And as we know, we like our slobs-versus-snobs comedies to bring down the snobs. Therefore, it’s just funny in our culture to see women getting drunk, the same way it’s funny to see the stuffed-shirt academic or what have you get drunk in other movies.
I’m not sure why this makes the whole thing so appealing to so many women; as established, I find it dreary at best. And remember, we’re not talking the drunken sorority, here; we’re talking women in their late twenties and early thirties (middle aged, by Hollywood’s standards of women) with real, professional jobs. Not families, usually, unless they’re escaping from their young children to go drink wine at a friend’s house—mothers only drink wine. (Growing up, my mother didn’t always drink beer, but when she did, she drank Dos Equis. My mother is . . . the World’s Most Interesting Old Catholic Lady.) But lives often a darn sight better than those of the women watching.
I don’t know; maybe it’s wish-fulfillment. Certainly movie women never seem to end up with hangovers after their binges unless that’s somehow part of the plot as well. They do seem better equipped to hold down jobs than most people who go out drinking every night.