If pop culture has taught us anything over the years, it’s that the holiday-season reliably delivers a few things year-in and year-out: gifting and card conundrums, touch-and-go travel moments, and at least one night of having a few too many before making decisions you regret. And while film has been no stranger to this either—see this year’s Office Christmas Party as the most recent in a lineage that technically includes Die Hard—the message is clear across mediums.
Get over-served at the holiday party at your own risk.
Naturally, things get complicated further since the normal office politics playbook is still in play. So if you do overindulge, be wary of who you’re leaving with. Best-case scenario in these situations, things can be crude but amusing. In the infamous Festivus-creation story that is Seinfeld’s “The Strike,” for instance, Jerry lays one of his patented lines on a woman (“Hi I’m Jerry, you might not know it to look at me, but I can run really, really fast”) as they sip during Tim Whatley’s Hanukkah party. But when he eventually sees her again out for a date dreamt up that evening, it launches a Constanza-theory known as “two-faced” (attractive sometimes, but not in others).
Drunken holiday party hookups can get much darker, however. Mad Men’s “Christmas Comes But Once A Year” may be remembered more for Roger Sterling in a Santa suit, but this episode sees Don Draper at his lowest point in the series. He’s fresh off his divorce from Betty, and rather than skipping the party altogether or simply unhealthily drowning his sorrows in Canadian Club, he compounds his woes. New secretary Allison seems to be the only co-worker who understands him (both professionally and personally, as evidenced by her ability to make sure Sally has a gift from dad waiting), but Don drunkenly woos her after she’s the one responsible enough to make sure he gets home that night. The next morning proves worse than a hangover, as Don unceremoniously gives her an awkward holiday bonus and no further communication.
Of course, you don’t need to find someone under the mistletoe or even leave a holiday party for an excess of alcohol to cause a seasonal sh*t show. The Office became famous for annual Christmas hijinks, but the first edition (simply called “Christmas Party”) goes awry when Michael tries to compensate for ruining Secret Santa with copious amounts of alcohol. We’re talking 15 bottles of plastic capped vodkas, enough to send Meredith flashing people throughout the office (though not enough for her to light her hair on fire, that only happens at the “Moroccan Christmas” party in season five).
Elsewhere in the world of pop culture managers named Michael, Arrested Development’s Michael Bluth lets martinis and punch flow to the point where he doesn’t realize doing a karaoke edition of “Afternoon Delight” with his niece is a bad idea. The party goes so poorly, he plans another one at the Banana Stand… where a martini-laden Lucille crashes her car into the festivities during yet another unaware “Afternoon Delight” rendition.
With a holiday known for mulled ciders, spiked eggnog, hot toddies and the like, it’s probably impossible to avoid one or two alcohol-induced horror stories before New Year’s Eve. But perhaps TV has proven it’s best to save the heavy drinking for when you’re with family and friends, not co-workers. Then again, ever catch 30 Rock’s “Ludachristmas?”