Lighten Up on 'Enlisted:' Even the Military Likes to Laugh


An exciting Friday night while my husband is away for Army training added up to Chinese food and surfing Facebook. A friend posted  a reminder that the new Fox show "Enlisted" would premiere in just a few minutes.

With nothing better to do, I abandoned my takeout and headed to my TV.

From the opening scene where the Hill brothers welcome home their oldest, I could not stop laughing. It was the type of laugh you have with a friend over an inside joke.

Anyone who has ever served in the military or had more than a cursory interaction with servicemembers know things can get pretty silly and ridiculous at any point during the day.

Just like any other professional setting, my husband comes home with some pretty funny stories after a day in the office…never mind what I hear about when he’s out in the field or deployed.

It came as a surprise to me when I saw so many people saying what an insult the show was to our servicemen and women. I saw many comments on Twitter and Facebook about how the characters in the show portrayed service members as inept buffoons.

There was also much concern about the show being taken too literally by civilians and confusing them into thinking this is the level of professionalism the military exudes at all times.

I was shocked to say the least when I saw the majority of this type of criticism coming from military members or their family members.

There were several issues throughout the show, including none of the soldiers ever wearing patrol caps outside and the American flag dragging on the ground (OUCH), but Fox admitted before the show even started that there were going to be mistakes and encouraged viewers to point out the mistakes so they can correct them in future tapings.

Also there were several stereotypes that I cringed at a bit including the female platoon sergeant who seemed to be trying too hard to prove herself.

There have been so many shows that have taken a humorous look at an otherwise serious occupation--"Scrubs" quickly comes to mind.

I don’t recall anyone arguing that those outside of the medical field would assume that doctors and nurses actually behaved like the characters on the show did. While M*A*S*H had political overtones, it still used humor and absurdity to remind viewers that service members are still human, even in the middle of a war.

"Enlisted" highlighted several redeeming themes of military life. The sense of camaraderie and family is second to none in the military. Having a husband who has worked both in the civilian world and served actively, I can tell you that the friendships he has fostered with his fellow soldiers is on a different level than those friendships he’s made at work or through civilian channels. The same can be said for those friendships that I have had with other military spouses.

That’s not to say these civilian friendships are subpar, but my husband has quite literally trusted his military friends with his life at times. That’s a level of trust most people never need to experience.

The show also made it a point that success doesn’t always come by putting yourself first but rather working together to achieve a goal. A noble lesson that sometimes is forgotten no matter if you’re a civilian or a military member.

In the almost nine years that I’ve been exposed to the Army, I’ve learned the military is not what the war movies make it out to be. There’s a lot less jumping out of airplanes and war games and more paperwork and in-office time like that you would find in a civilian career.

And just like civilians, servicemembers like to have fun. People need to remember it’s a comedy. It’s supposed to have absurd characters and situations. The writers are going to take liberties to make the plot flow and nail down the laugh.

With the upsetting news of pension reductions and post-war issues, I’m excited that there is a show out there willing to take a light-hearted look at the military and remind everyone that service members are human too and they like to laugh even amongst the doom and gloom.

Jennifer writes Also Known As...the Wife, a blog focusing on marriage and parenting.  She and her husband, an Army Reservist, have been married for five years and are raising their two children in New Jersey.

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