Many have heard about a new sitcom on Fox premiring on Jan 10th called "Enlisted".
If you've seen the trailer, you're likely upset, angry, maybe even outraged. And you'd be right to. There are a ton of errors and it's a bit of a travesty. And the show's creators heard the complaints loud and clear.
Kevin Biegel was recently interviewed in a chat set up by "DoctrineMan" on Facebook. The chat is pretty freewheeling (as Facebook discussions are wont to be). I extracted some questions from it to share here:
So how do you hope to win over the cynical who see this (another) brazen attempt to profit off of the military meme?
KB: All I can do is hope people see the show, give it a chance, and realize where it's coming from and see it's very personal, very heartfelt and not ever, every trying to "mock" anything. I didn't want to do a satire, we just wanted to write something about a place we love and characters we loved... so that's the show. I think shows that you're referring to you can kinda tell when it's not coming from a heartfelt place, you know?
What is the military background of the writers of the show? (and, if not, did//will THEY get some military hands-on like the key cast members did?)
KB: Aside from myself a lot of the writers have military in their families. A writer in the room at almost all times was a Lt in the Navy. We didn't send the writers to the mini Boot Camp the actors went to - we just couldn't make it b/c we were writing the show - but we want to go if there's a season 2. I did give the writers more research to read than any show I've ever been on. A mountain of books, blogs, and also transcripts of interviews I did with my military friends. No one walked into this with zero education. That said, we have a LOT to learn and the more hands on we can be, the better the show will be.
What serious issue(s) would you'd like to tackle through the medium of the show?
KB: We deal with PTS as a main thing for the main character on the show, survivor guilt, and also deal with the fear of having a loved one overseas / of losing that loved one (the brothers’ father died in combat). My biggest hope for the show is we connect with a big audience in that area. I care more about that than jokes, really.
Is (the show written) in the vein of Stripes or Sgt. Bilko? Or would you say you are closer to MASH?
KB: It's definitely more in the vein of Stripes. For a little bit when I was writing the pilot, I had Stripes on loop on a TV in the background. I'd say even more, though, it's something like Stripes but with some Scrubs thrown in - i didn't want it to be all jokey wacky stuff, I felt it had to have real emotion and deal with some tougher things if it was going to be a show set in the military in 2014. If we are 1/100th the show MASH was, we'd be lucky. That's all time great. What I want to do that's like that show, though (and honestly like Scrubs where I worked for years) is combine comedy with real emotional moments. The main character on this show came close to biting it a few times, and I wanted that to be reflected in a real way - not a "this guy wasn't affected by war" way. So there will be quieter moments here hopefully have honest emotional content that means something to the military community and, honestly and hopefully, to the non-military community
Please: no female Goldie Hawn character. But it does beg the question; will the show touch on SHARP? Give thought to reinforcing stereotypes? The bumbling GO etc.?
KB: I promise no Goldie Hawn character. The main female character is squared away and confident - not neurotic or bumbling. As for SHARP, that's an area I want to explore but only after the audience knows these characters. I want to build to it, so when we do those stories it means more b/c you know the characters.
The trailer makes it look like most of the NCO's besides the brother are unable or unfit to handle the unit the brother is handling. Is this on purpose or incidental?
KB: That's just the trailer... it's made really clear a lot that these guys are the anomaly. Most everyone else on this post is super squared away. But our guys always try to get better, and a lot do.
Some episodes will mean more to you than others. Which episode should we be most looking forward to?
KB: I think in this first group of episodes, the one about Sgt. Hill and his Airstream is what I'm most looking forward to people seeing. I love all the episodes and we worked really hard on them, but that one is the first that (hopefully) shows that we're gonna be a little deeper sometimes and try to deal with some heavier issues. I don't ever, ever want to be preachy - I just want to be honest to what we feel these characters would go through. And that episode is the first that just slows down and shows (again, hopefully) that we're not some wacky silly non-stop goofball of a show.
In acknowledging the errors from the initial couple of episodes, the show is doing something interesting and refreshing - they are owning up to it up front. I applaud that.
The primary cast even spent a few days working with the Army to get their minds right for their roles and it was some significant discovery learning. There's videos here that document their time at Fort Bliss.
I think this show is worth your time, as long as you realize the first couple of episodes were shot before they realized that veterans and Soldiers were watching and not pleased with the initial effort. I think Kevin is serious about finding that balance between entertainment and honoring our Nation's enlisted Soldiers.