Hopes run high for the audience to build for the new Friday night Fox comedy Enlisted, because it’s not only a sharply written show about three brothers serving together on an Army post in Florida, it’s also a salute to our soldiers on the home front.
It’s not an original premise. We’ve had military comedies before such as the long-running M*A*S*H and McHale’s Navy, which were set overseas during wartime. I see certain elements of the sitcoms Major Dad and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. too, set at U.S. camps, following the day to day adventures and conflicts of likable characters. They featured broad humor but always had a respectful nod to those who serve.
It seemed everyone at the Enlisted premiere screening at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills last week was pleased with the respectful tone of the show. Following the screening there was a panel with cast members and the creative team. The stars of the show are Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young as the three Hill brothers; Angelique Cabral as a pretty and tough soldier; and Keith David (Platoon) who plays Command Sergeant Major Cody. There’s also a platoon ensemble that makes the Army base an awesome place to tell a variety of stories, according to executive producer Mike Royce.
Stults says, “The dynamic is about the relationship between the three knucklehead brothers who have to work together, and the people around them. And we have military advisors to make sure we don’t mess up. We also have actors who are real vets in our ensemble, and they know we’re not making fun of them. Our comedy comes from a very real place.”
Talking with Kevin Biegel, creator, writer, and executive producer of Enlisted (who also did Cougar Town), he describes the show as “a workplace comedy, except the workplace is the Army. It’s an extremely personal show, more than anything I’ve ever worked on. The Army part comes from all my family and friends who served and the monumental effect that experience had on their lives. The brother part comes from my relationship with my two younger brothers.” Biegel says it’s kind of a “beat-the-crap out of each other then say we love each other” type relationship. That sounds funny, normal, and relatable. And that’s the essence of the show — relatable.
Enlisted will have outrageous humor, but it will be dramatic at times. Biegel says it has to be in order to ground the lives of the brothers in the reality of serving in the Army. “Anyone can be funny, but to be about something is what makes this special. We can never be M*A*S*H, no show can, but I wanted to follow its lead in combining comedy with heavier issues. I don’t believe you can do a show about the military in 2014 and not deal with things like PTSD or losing a loved one.” So Biegel will cover those situations with care, noting, “Those things have to be part of this world. Both because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s my duty to be respectful of the men and women who do this job.”
After enjoying a couple of episodes, I think it’s a show to be proud of for the actors and the entire production team. “I think it’s funny, big, sweet, heartfelt and, at the end of the day, joyous,” Biegel says proudly. I salute his efforts.