Episode 4 “Underage Drinking; A National Concern” of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia addresses underage drinking through politically incorrect satire while still focusing on the seriousness of the subject matter. It is widely known and accepted that alcohol abuse by teenagers is not only a crime; it is also a sorrowful situation when it involves ruining lives and it can even result in death. The cast of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia presents a new and obviously demented view point to the subject. The friends portrayed in the show understand teenage drinking is unacceptable and in the opening scenes of this particular episode the cast shares some personal youthful experiences while sitting together in the bar that that is owned collectively by the group. Charlie points out a particularly dangerous moment when he says several times “Remember when we totaled Ben’s car after we plowed into that tree!” (“Underage Drinking, A National Concern”).
Alcohol use among teens increases dramatically during the high-school years and leads to serious consequences for many teens. As studies by statistics from the National Institute of Health show, each year in the United States, alcohol-related automobile accidents are a major cause of teen deaths. Alcohol is also often a cause in other teenage deaths, including drowning, suicides and homicides. “Teens who drink are more likely to become sexually active, have sex more frequently and engage in risky, unprotected sex than are teens who don’t drink.” (National Institute of Health).
For each person who will agree with a specific angle to this subject there will be two who will stand up and disagree. A classic example from this episode is the early comment from Dee, “[there is] a social responsibility to keep teenagers from drinking.” (“Underage Drinking, A National Concern”). Obviously this is right thinking however this is the twisted turning point with regards to this episode. It is suggested and then agreed upon to give the local youth a “safe” place where they can consume alcohol without the worries typically associated with attempting to purchase liquor without valid identification. The topic should be black and white.
There isn’t supposed to be a gray area involving illegal activities and the bottom line is simple; if you’re under 21 you cannot drink alcohol. What happens on the show is especially ironic because the owners of the bar justify making money off of ignorant teenagers while telling each other they’re providing a controlled environment for something that teenagers are going to do anyway. They point out that in many countries the world over it is not uncommon for someone as young as 12 or 13 to be found drinking with some degree of regularity and rationalize that they’re actually providing a community service.
Everyone would like to know why teens use drugs and alcohol; some use narcotics to fit in and then become addicted. Others think a more complicated reason exists why people use drugs, especially teenagers. During the teen years, kids are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. The increasing need for teenaged independence may make kids want to defy their parents’ wishes or instructions as a way of asserting their independence. Peer pressure can also have an effect on an adolescent’s decision to begin drinking. While much has been written about peer pressure, and its effect should not be ignored, study after study proves that parental involvement carries much more weight.
Teenage bodies and minds are still developing, and drinking at that age has a much more negative effect than on an adult The abuse of alcohol by teenagers is a sneaky thing, and many times adults who don’t want to believe their children would “do that”, find out too late that they already have. “Parents, teachers and social workers need to remain alert to the signs of alcohol abuse in teenagers.” (National Institute of Health).
There is a misconception, especially among non-alcoholics, that a teenager is too young to become an alcoholic. This is a subject that is completely overlooked in the episode in spite of the tongue in cheek satire. Some recovering alcoholics can look back through specific teenage years and see that they were drinking as an alcoholic when they were much younger. It is true that most teenagers won’t come to grips with their drinking problems until much later in life. Alcoholism does not discriminate against its victims, and it crosses into all age groups.
What the show does not focus on ultimately, is that bad choices have bad consequences. If a teenager thinks they have a drinking problem, they should be assisted in finding help and not given rationalizations that offer a quick escape. There are many young people Alcoholics Anonymous groups available today all across the country. They are living their teenage years as it was intended to be, free of alcohol and happy. Underage drinking is a serious and criminal offence and there should be zero tolerance in spite of the success of comedic displays in the media.
National Institute of Health. Alcoholism – – When Drinking Becomes a Disease.
“Underage Drinking; A National Concern.” It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. By Glenn Howerton. Rob McElhenney. Charlie Day. FX Productions. 18 Aug. 2005.