Cheers, the TV bar we all know and love—those of us old enough to have experienced it in prime time, and those of us young enough to consider it nostalgic now that we're 21—has turned 30. We can barely even believe that it was way back when on September 30, 1982 (1982!) that the very first episode of the program aired, bringing us the fascinating barroom dynamics of Cliff and Norm and Sam and Frasier and Carla and Diane and all the others. Though the show at first did pretty terribly, rather like a real-live dive bar (it was nearly
shut down by the Board of Health canceled), it weathered on and eventually we got Woody and Rebecca and the rest, the whole gang, in the bar that always knows your name. What we ever would have done without it is something we're glad we don't have to wonder.
In honor of Cheers' 30-year-versary, we analyzed a few of our favorite television bars (among them, Cheers) to find out what they might reveal about those who adore them. This list, alas, could not be truly inclusive, and therefore The River Styx, The Reagle Beagle, and the Ally McBeal/Grey's Anatomy bars did not make the cut, but you guys know who you are; you don't need us to tell you. If you insist, the answers are: hoodlum, leisure-suited, an insufferable overachiever.
Cheers (Cheers). You're fun. Sure! People think you're fun. You know, you have BBQs in your backyard in the summer and people sometimes stay fairly late. You make jokes and like good beer. You can definitely be fun. Your job isn't fun. You make it try to sound fun, but as "crazy" and "hilarious" as your cubicle mates might be, you're not really ever going to convince anyone that doing low-level management of insurance portfolios is terribly exciting. But that's OK. After all, you took that improv class and you've got your Ultimate Frisbee league and you and the significant other always come up with a good couples costume for Halloween. But all told, nothing about your life is that exciting, unfortunately. It's nice, but it's a bit staid, uninspired. You live in a residential part of the city right now, but some bland new construction further out of town is likely in the cards fairly soon. You like to say you know downtown pretty well when friends or family come to visit, but they're starting to notice that you take them to the same places every time and seem to only ride the one subway or bus line. Things are settling down for you, and that's OK. You know it, too. A quiet part of you does. As much as you might appear to be fighting it, you like settling, you like easing in, it feels good, this nestling. Really, no one needs that much excitement. Just a little bit. A little bit goes a long way.
Dobler's (Greek). Sometimes people just like to go places and drink without a lot of hassle, and if there is hassle, you can leave in a huff and break in after closing to do it your own way because one of your friends has the keys, at least, until he or she is canned for breaking into said bar. College. Remember college? You guys were all so close, perfect and young American comrades, your friendships golden and ruddy and full of school spirit, flecked and gorgeous like Goldschläger, with none of the exhaustion incurred by days spent toiling away in an airless office or lugging lumber in the out-of-doors for a boss with a beer gut named Sonny. Sure, you grew apart after that one special time around the kegerator when things got a little too close for comfort, but there's no need to remember anything but the good times; that's all you have, that's all you ever have. You're the shotglass-half-full type and you prefer draft beer when you're not doing shots, preferably at Happy Hour, where you can while away numerous afternoons in the Groundhog Day of life reminiscing over how things were before that sports injury landed you in an desk job or you chose the wrong fellow to settle down with. Class of Whatever.
The Peach Pit After Dark (Beverly Hills 90210). You are a chameleon, equally comfortable in any shade of hair that Donna Martin sported throughout the duration of the series. You enjoy fine wine and finer music, preferably live, but also that which emanates from your perfectly retro '80s-era boombox, perched upon your shoulder as you stare up at the window of the bedroom your high school crush grew up in but hasn't been back to since they went away to college and then moved to the big city where you hear they're quite successful, sigh. But you're modern, too, at home with the social trends and whatnot! Like, come on, you have a Twitter account. You have The Facebook! You think you can dance, and, well, no one's going to tell you otherwise, at least not to your face, and sometimes when you're all alone with your iPod Nano in the chilly yet stylish post-modern bungalow you call your home, you really can dance, David Silver-style, mostly because you're imagining Nat looking down at you with that avuncular gaze we all know and love, which is not creepy at all.
Moe's Tavern (The Simpsons) You're a funny guy. (Or girl.) You make people laugh, a lot of times because you just know everything. Every reference, every actor or movie or bizarre one-hit wonder band. You're encyclopedic and people are impressed by it and often laugh at your jokes. But also? You're a bit of a pest, something of a know-it-all. Your opinions on pop culture — be it books, TV, movies, video games, whatever — are informed by vast stores of arcane knowledge, but that doesn't mean they're unerringly correct. They're just, y'know, opinions! But you might not see it that way, you might really believe, like a religion believe, that "Remedial Chaos Theory" is the best episode of series television since "Last Exit to Springfield," but you know what? Some people just don't like Community, and you should learn to deal with that. Calming down a bit might help you meet someone, someone you can go on dates with and feel a real and true intimacy with so maybe one day in the future you won't have to worry about heatedly arguing the particulars of how the TARDIS works and can just enjoy someone's company, the easy conversation and genuine warmth and connection. Just relax, listen to other people, realize that all you're talking about is entertainment. Also you should probably get some new shoes and some pants, because those black walking sneakers with tube socks sticking out of them worn with cargo shorts just really aren't cutting it.
Paddy's (It's Always Sunny). Just because you passed out here in college and lost your contact lens or both and eventually found yourself an apartment in some large building on the outskirts of town with a boy named Damon or a girl named Penelope or a cat named Ferdinand Magellan the 17th does not mean you haven't grown into an adult with a very fine career in entertainment or environmental law, no sirree bob. You are a Gemini. Or maybe an Aires. You forgot. That's cool.
P3 (Charmed). Alas, you have never possessed any magical talents, but you wish you did, and if wishes were dimes, you'd have a pocketful of spare change to buy beers with, presuming you were also magical. Or maybe you'd have a fancy drink with an umbrella sticking out of it that you could telekinetically drive through the heart of a vicious nearby were-vampire, if the case arose. Along with your love of magic and the belief that if you just tried hard enough you'd harness that mysterious power the Halliwell sisters flaunted so gloriously, you enjoy lavender-scented sachets, salsa dancing lessons, pictures of unicorns, matte red lipstick, the occasional tube top (but only when paired classily with trousers and a platform pump), and kick-boxing classes taught by Glen, the handsome instructor with the heart of gold at your local fitness establishment. In college you went to Spain for semester abroad and subsisted on tortilla and a drink made of pineapples and Malibu rum. You're very good at emotive eye rolls.
The Bronze (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Just as The Bronze changed from underage teen hangout to grownup bar full of grownup drinks and sex and stuff, you are good at evolving to meet your circumstances. You live in a college town, you maybe even have a college job, admissions or something, you're pretty settled and low-key, but you still cling to some emblem of your old rebellious phases — dyed hair, heavy combat boots, etc. You send a lot of Someecards, usually the especially dark and sardonic ones. You don't "party" much, you'd rather read a reasonably mainstream graphic novel at a coffee shop or "ironically" go to Costco for your second time this week. (You secretly love it, the process of it, the organization of it.) It turns out that semi-suburban domesticated living is way more to your liking than you ever would have insisted when you were nineteen. But that's what people do. They change, they grow up, they learn new things about the world and factor them into themselves. You still feel like a Buffy badass, but in truth the baddest thing you ever did was slowly and quietly admit to yourself that you like to be good.
The Dot (Degrassi: The Next Generation). Technically The Dot is a cafe, not a bar, but high school kids can't legally drink, even in wild Canada, so this has to count as their local bar. If this is your favorite, it likely means that you have a Tumblr and a Twitter and you love pop culture. Not in the nerdy Moe's way, more in the "I love to watch trash reality TV and make jokes about it" way. You're a giggler, it's fun to make fun of things, but inside you lurks a lot of swooniness. You love the first kiss in movies, especially when it's the cool one and the not-cool one, girl or guy, who fall for each other. That's always the best. You didn't go to a top college but it was pretty good, maybe Franklin & Marshall or GW or somewhere like that. You live in an apartment that your parents help pay for a little bit, and you have a job, probably in media, that is almost the job that you want but that is a big "almost," and some days the dream feels so terribly far away. You went to Paris last year and had a little too much wine the first night and got pretty sick and felt awful the next day because as much as you talk a big carefree game, you're not quite a free-wheeling as you'd like to be. There's an old timidity that you developed early on that's created a frailty you still can't quite shake. That's why you like it so much in the not-quite-real world, where you can watch your shows and tweet your jokes and no one will see the real you, curled up and quiet, not doing much of anything.
That Bushwick Warehouse (Girls). Maybe this is not a bar, per se, but there's booze and boys and girls, so it's nearly synonymous with a bar, no? If you agree with that statement you are the sort of person who might, spur of the moment, accidentally smoke crack and then run down the street skirtless with a man who only hopes to help you but you think is trying to kill you and, regardless, will eventually fall in love with you in hot pursuit. No, sillies, that's a plot in the episode! In actuality, you're someone who lives in a city, possibly Brooklyn or the lower regions of Manhattan, and you are, most likely, in your 20s or early 30s. You may not have lived where you do for very long, but the time you've spent there, you've really lived, you know? You put Sriracha on everything. You spend more money than you can afford on things that are sparkly, tasty, or fun.You march to the beat of your own drummer, which is to say, you don't even listen to bands that incorporate drums, because percussion is for the olds. Your proudest possession is a jar of rainbow-colored sand you got that week spent on the beach with your family in fourth grade, before your parents divorced, when you experienced your first kiss and later puked on the roller coaster (or vice versa) and afterward, in either chronology, everything was forever different. Sometimes you look at that wee jar, backlit in the glow of traffic on the BQE, and you remember, and there is a tear, but you wipe it away quickly with a deli napkin scrounged from the floor and go have drinks with your pals. There's a party to attend to.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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