One of my favorite things about sitcoms is that the main characters always hang out at the same place. It seemed so cool to me as a kid. All your friends meet up at the same location every day without ever making plans and just shoot the shit in a hilarious manner, seemed like the perfect life. One downside to working in the television industry is learning that the reason for a “hangout place” isn’t based on anything in reality, but rather a way to save money since the less shooting locations there are, the cheaper the cost.
I’ve always wanted a sitcom hangout of my own and with all due respect to the Central Perk, Monk’s Diner, and Chubbies, I want my hangout to be a bar. There is just something more appealing about a place to meet up for a pint with your friends to bitch about your day at work, relive great moments, and maybe play a game of darts or pool. Plus the added bonus of becoming a “regular” where the bartenders know you buy name, give you special deals, and let you pay your bar tab whenever you want cause they know you’ll be back. A young professional’s life is busy and stressful. We worry about our jobs, having enough money to pay rent, our future, etc. It does not leave us much time to sit back and relax with our closest friends.
Besides my roommates, I sometimes go weeks without seeing some of my closest friends in Los Angeles. Our lives get so busy that we’re too tired to do anything during the week, which leaves us only the weekends to hangout. The problem there is that weekend trips come up, taking them out of town, or they have a lot of things to catch up on since it is their only time off or they’re too tired from a long week to hangout. The point is that the weekends are limited and not always ideal to spend a lot of time with friends.
This is why I’m on a quest to find my own sitcom bar. A place where my friends and I can meet up for an hour or two during the week when we’re free. A bar to call our own, so that no matter what we’ll always have friends to share a beer and shoot the shit. Before I decide on a place, I thought it would be best to take a look at some of the best sitcom bars in television history in order to structure my search.
I’m all about a bar being below street level, no matter how slightly below that may be.
MacLaren’s Pub – How I Met Your Mother
Television’s best Friends replacement made the smart move of having a bar be its main hangout instead of a coffee shop. As far as sitcom bars go MacLaren’s is pretty solid. It has nice booths, which is always a plus. If you’re going to convince everyone to come to the same bar all the time, then it should be a comfortable spot. The coolest aspect of the bar is the fact that it is below street level. Any bar that has this feature scores huge bonus points in my book. Another bonus to MacLaren’s pub is that it seems to bring in a lot of beautiful single people, based on the number of romantic relationships, or conquests in Barney’s case, that got started there. However, the best thing MacLaren’s has going for itself is convenience. It is literally located directly under the main apartment where half the characters live. A convenient location is key to a great sitcom bar. It cannot be a chore for people to get to or else they will lose motivation to keep coming back.
It is not a perfect sitcom bar though. It is pretty small. I would prefer a more spacious bar if I’m going to hang out there all the time. Plus the characters never sit at the bar, another bad sign. If you’re going to become a “regular” at a bar, then you need to get along with the bartenders and the other regulars. This way you don’t need to wait for your friends in order to show up at the same time. You can just head straight to the bar and tell the bartenders about your shitty day. The final nail in the coffin though is that it does not appear that MacLaren’s has any bar games. This is a huge deal breaker for me. Any place with darts and pool has my attention. If there is shuffle board, then I might try to live there.
Ultimately, although it is a pretty cool bar, MacLaren’s is not the sitcom bar for me.
Crowley’s – My Boys
This is one of the lesser known sitcom bars considering that the show it comes from, My Boys, was an overlooked and underrated show for the four seasons it aired on TBS. A much more spacious bar then MacLaren’s, which that alone puts it ahead, but the greatest part of Crowley’s is that it not only has bar games, darts and pool, but also a large collection of board games. As a self professed board game geek this is an amazing attraction. The opportunity to drink and play Risk, Operation, Scrabble, Categories, or any other various games is hard to pass up. There is also a great neighborhood feel to Crowley’s. It is not trying to pretend to be a gastropub or a trendy club or a hipster haven, it is just happy being a neighborhood bar.
There really isn’t a downside to Crowley’s. If I’m nitpicking, then I suppose one of my arguments against MacLaren’s holds up against it too. The bartenders and staff were not a big part of the show, so it is unclear what kind of relationship there is to be had on that front. But it hits the rest of my criteria and earns plenty of bonus points. Did I mention it has a slew of board games? Crowley’s is just about the perfect sitcom bar and a great example to use while searching for mine.
Paddy’s Pub – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
A good dive bar makes it easy to judge it by its cover.
I love me a good dive bar and it does not get much more divey than Paddy’s. Our first sitcom bar where not only do we know the bartenders and staff, but they are the five main characters on the show. This combined with what is sure to be cheap beers, if they even remember to charge me at all, makes Paddy’s an ideal location. The great thing about dive bars is that you do not feel any pressure to dress up or make a good impression. People go to a dive to throw back some cheap beers and escape life for a little while. You can wear whatever you like and do whatever you like within the context of the law.
The problem is that not everybody can get on board with the dive bar experience. They need cleanliness and proper lighting while they’re drinking. Pretentious bastards. Plus I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a customer in Paddy’s besides Rickety Cricket. A good sitcom bar should feel slightly private and certainly provide an atmosphere that makes it easy to talk. But it should also sometimes have a lively, fun and young crowd to provide the opportunity to meet some new people. Preferably the attractive, intelligent, funny, and wild future Mrs. Demetrio. Sadly these reasons keep Paddy’s from being able to jump Crowley’s and take the Yellow Jersey as my lead, ideal example to follow for my quest.
But it does have live music…
Cheers – Cheers
Before the executive producers of My Boys start celebrating for creating my ideal sitcom bar, they need to check themselves and bow down to the king, Cheers. It may be the obvious and boring answer, but that doesn’t mean that it is the wrong one. Boring, obvious answers are almost always the right answer, we just do not like to admit it cause it is boring and obvious.
As a kid I used to sneak out of my room to watch re-runs of Cheers on TV Land. It played the entire series weeknights and I watched all 271 episodes in order. I took away two things, one it is the best sitcom ever made and two, Cheers (the bar) is the most magical place on Earth. The theme song says it all, “where everybody knows you’re name.” Those five simple words is all the criteria one needs when searching for their own sitcom bar. Besides that the bar actual has a lot of great features. It is below street level, which I already mentioned is a huge bonus. Cheers is very spacious and has a great lay out, a big square shaped bar in the middle that makes it easy to carry on conversations with anyone at the bar, and it’s own side game room to get super competitive with your friends while allowing you the comfort of not everyone in the bar seeing you throw a hissy fit after scratching on the 8-ball. Plus it is a place that allows you to do something as crazy as this…
It is just the perfect bar and the best example to use in my search for a sitcom bar. In the weeks to come I’ll be going out to various bars in LA to see how close they come to meeting my criteria, based on the things I like from all my favorite sitcom bars. I’ll share my findings and then you can help me choose what will finally become my sitcom bar. I look forward to sharing this quest with you and finally getting to the place where everybody knows my name.