Friday, August 24, 2007

Army Wives

Having sat through an episode of 'Army Wives' that the Mrs. recorded while we were traveling, I can honestly say: "so what?"

It's a soap opera. Plain and simple, with guys in poorly formed berets, worse fitting uniforms, and over-the-top stereotyping as a backdrop for the absolute best (and worst) of the unofficial (and sometimes official) spouse network. They even went to far as to reduce their six degrees of separation to every other soap opera to one degree by having Barbara Eden feature. (FYI, for you kids too young to remember, Eden and Larry Hagman were ex-lovers on the last season of Dallas.

For the record, I shot J.R.

I usually make it farther than the 1st paragraph prior to digressing. This show is such a sham; I am astounded that a few humvees and ACUs could swindle a group as well-read and educated as the majority of the wives I've met in the Army. The show is simply about gossip, sex, marital strife, political infighting, and occasionally the zany antics of those who do serve, but usually only as a dramatic plot device to gain empathy from the millions of Army Wives who watch this show. It is not a tribute to the struggles they face, although they do throw in platitudes every now and again to their unique problems.

Even the cast is made up of thin stereotypes:
The main bitch is the general's wife. Of course, I've met some of these, but the vast majority of The wives of senior officers are true ladies, women who are bset described as paladins of the virtues of Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy, and Serenity. They show thoughtfulness for others, generosity, modesty and self-respect., and above all a true concern for the lives and wives of the soldiers their husbands command. (Unlike, say, the former first lady and senator from New Yawk--I'll not be so impolite as to name names.)
The main heroine is the deputy commander's wife. She is courageous and bold, and stands up for her husband, who apparently hasn't learned to do so in 18 years of service. He is a model of the calm, rational, assertive but kind officer. Of course he's married to the heroine.
The rest of the caricatures, (I'll not call them characters, because to do so would lend to the notion that the script has any depth to it). Of course their are the evil gossips, the whoring spouses (male and female) those who feel abandoned by the army because their husbands are away and they have to raise the kids on their own (something that they apparently never considered prior to saying "I do.")

They have everything but the ridiculously strong wife who has to send her kids away to her sisters' house while she traipses off to DC to care for her husband, whose had his ass splattered all over some bridge on the outskirts of North Bumfuck Baqubah. Of course that character won't show the woman who turns away when the sheets are first pulled back and whispers "I can't do this..." right before she starts doing what needs to be done. They won't show the mother-in-law standing by her side throughout the ordeal, where they bond beyond friendship. There will be no portrayal of the Angels who watch over them from the first moment of injury through recovery. They may portray the brave soldier fighting through the pain to learn to stand, to walk, to make a fist or hold a spoon.

I'm sure (you know, just to move the plot along) he'll either be dead, or an amputee, because they can just send him home in a wheelchair to suffer PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury on his own. I'm certain that soldier will become a drunk and have awful trouble readjusting while the wife finds love (temporarily) in the arms of another, but they reaffirm their love in the end. Or they divorce, or maybe there's even a suicide. Depends on sweeps week.

The point is, I think this show is as insulting to Army Wives as 'Over There' was to soldiers. For those who watch it as a glimpse of what the life of a Military Spouse is like, you could also watch 'Shark' to see what it's like being an assistant DA in Los Angeles, or you could watch 'Monk' to learn about obsessive compulsive disorder. It doesn't portray the truth, it only highlights the very best of us and contrasts it against the very worst.

If you are an Army Wife (and I am sure Carren is going to kick my ass when she reads this) please don't hold this show up as the "real thing." There is a lot of familiarity in the storylines and even in the people. Has anyone noticed that there are no overweight Army wives? Or wives who only speak German or Korean or Spanish? There are no 18-year-old wives. They all seem to live in fabulous quarters, (where the hell are they stationed?) and drive brand new cars, and their houses appear to all have been decorated by Martha Stuart.

There is some truth to the show, of course. The public affairs Major who runs the radio station is only slightly (80 pounds or so) overweight.

Above all, remember, this is only a show, a dramtization,


P.S. There will be a post -show discussion on after each and every episode. The people who write spousebuzz are real Army Spoused, and represent a very broad spectrum of Army spouses.

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