I am a veteran of the US Army. I, like a lot of veterans, am aware of a new show coming to Fox this January called Enlisted. I have not had a good opinion of this show or high hopes that it would be anything other than awful. The trailer was offensive to me and was full of mistakes that in today’s times just aren’t possible to overlook. I was alerted today by a military blog that I have followed for years, Blackfive, that the folks at Enlisted have heard the complaints of the military community and they are doing something about it.
Enlisted’s creator and producer Kevin Biegel was recently interviewed on the Facebook page Doctrine Man!! and being that it was Facebook, the questions and answers were kind of all over the place. Blackfive took out some of Kevin’s answers to key questions and I have to say that I’m impressed.
First, I didn’t know and you might not have known either, that Kevin Biegel was a writer on Scrubs and then was the co-creator of Cougar Town. He said in one of his answers that he wants Enlisted to be a Scrubs type show with a bit of M*A*S*H mixed in. As for any of the writers having any connection to the military? One of the writers was an LT in the Navy and nearly all the writers have at least one family member either serving or has served.
While Biegel’s answers to the questions from military members impressed me, what I am most impressed by is the fact that they are listening to the complaints and they are trying to do something about it. Here is Fox owning up to the fact that they have made mistakes. See what they do with it:
Spot Our Errors Contest
I’m incredibly impressed by Fox’s response. This isn’t something that we see very often. Take one of their other shows, Dads, for example. That show is one of the worst things ever put on TV. What did Fox do with it? Instead of agreeing with the hatred, they doubled down and ordered a full season of episodes. Then they took to the airwaves to talk about about much people loved the show despite the mountains of complaints against the show. Fox has since put Dads on hiatus which will lead to it’s eventual cancellation, but still. They were dead wrong in their handling of Dads.
Contrast that with how they are reacting to the Enlisted complaints. It couldn’t be more different. I suspect this has less to do with the suits at Fox and more to do with Kevin Biegel, but either way, they are doing the right thing here.
No veteran or active duty member is looking for a TV show to be 100% accurate. First of all, 100% accuracy isn’t possible and, more importantly, it’s not entertaining. What the military community wants though is for entertainment folks to make an effort. Try to get at least the easy stuff right and don’t make a mockery of the military. Be funny, poke fun, make jokes, sure all of that. Don’t belittle or humiliate. That’s not cool. Fox seems to be trying their best to make Enlisted as accurate as possible while being entertaining.
Fox posted a series of webisodes last week showing the actors attending boot camp at Ft. Bliss, Tx. There are 6 episodes showing the actors going through various training iterations that give them a taste of what basic training is like. Of course this is just a taste and is no where near as bad as the real thing, but it’s a sign of respect that Fox sent their actors to try to get them more familiar with the characters they would be playing. Here is the first webisode:
Enlisted Cast Attends Boot Camp
The writers for Enlisted did not have a chance to attend the boot camp with the actors but Kevin Biegel did say that if there is a season 2, the writers will be going to boot camp. I respect their commitment to send the writers if they have the chance to do so. You always hear about the actors going to Hollywood boot camp (usually run by Dale Dye), but you never hear about the writers having to do the same. If I were Fox, I would not only send the writers to the boot camp, but I would film every minute of it and turn it in to a reality show.
So the creators of Enlisted have admitted that the pilot is going to be full of problems. I am impressed that they have listened to the complaints of the military community and I’m even more impressed that they are working to improve. It’s not something you see very often from Hollywood folks and I have got to recognize and respect their efforts.
I have been set to write for a while about how Fox should be ashamed of putting Enlisted on the air and how I would be hoping for a quick demise. The actions they have taken in the last couple of weeks have made me change my mind on that. I’m not saying that I’m a guaranteed fan mind you. But I am saying that I am now willing to give Enlisted a shot knowing that they are going to work to improve.
Nice job Fox and nice job Kevin Biegel. You are taking the right steps right now. Let’s hope you do make improvements and Enlisted does capture the essence of successful military shows of the past.
Enlisted premieres on Fox on Januray 10 at 8:30.