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Modern War and Military Television: 3 TV Shows Since 1970 That Shaped the Genre

By    |   Sunday, 22 Nov 2015 10:42 PM

Warfare hits close to home for so many people. Military veterans and their families regularly see the horrors of war transform their lives. Modern war and military TV shows try to capture to essence of how military service affects people during their tours of duty and beyond.

Public perception of military life is shaped by how television portrays it. The most memorable TV shows find a way to put what the soldiers and their families go through all on screen.

Here are three modern war and military TV shows since 1970 that have shaped the genre.

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1. “M*A*S*H*” (1972-83)
On the surface, a sitcom based around an Army medical unit in the Korean War sounds like a morbid idea. “M.*A*S*H*” executes the concept, offering a satirical look at the doctors, nurses and staff of the 4077th MASH unit, dealing with the horrors of warfare as they work to patch up wounded soldiers and civilians. It broke barriers by mixing in drama with the humor as a reminder of the costs of war. Themes of loss, heartbreak and survival in this show still resonate with viewers three decades later and helped it last four times longer than the actual Korean War.

2. “China Beach” (1988-91)
Following the “M*A*S*H*” route, “China Beach” examined warfare and its effects on the medical staff, soldiers and civilians at the 510th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam. The title referred to the nickname of the real-life My Khe Beach, Time magazine noted. “China Beach” was a straight drama that chronicled the cynicism and brutality of the Vietnam War and how it affected the lives of various characters – both in the war zone and upon returning home. “China Beach” became one of the first war shows to deal extensively with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

3. “JAG” (1995-2005)
Warfare is not the only source of drama in military service. “JAG” follows a pair of judge advocate generals (military lawyers) as they conduct investigations and prosecute criminal cases among members of the U.S. Navy and Marines. Many real-life incidents serve as inspiration for plots on “JAG” episodes. It reflects how the military is made up of both good and bad people – capable of doing morally and legally questionable things while serving their country.

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Warfare hits close to home for so many people. Military veterans and their families regularly see the horrors of war transform their lives. Modern war and military TV shows try to capture to essence of how military service affects people.
war, military, TV, genre
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2015-42-22
Sunday, 22 Nov 2015 10:42 PM
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