Ex-Wives Club. Starter Wife. Footballer’s Wives. The Real Housewives of Orange County. Desperate Housewives. Army Wives. I’m not sure, but I think someone senses a demographic that needs to be tapped into. Truth be told, I hadn’t heard of this show (and probably couldn’t find the Lifetime channel with a color coded guide on my cable menu) until Presidential candidates started doing commercials for it. However, once I heard the premise, I couldn’t help but think of my friend who’s a recent army wife as well as my sister who is also an Army wife (though her husband is a Navy husband – both taking turns serving overseas).

“Human life isn’t about perfection. It is about accepting the flawed, the misguided parts of ourselves.” –CJ Holden

Executive producer Mark Gordon and creator Katherine Fugate based the show on a journalist’s book about Army wives, so the show features an ensemble of richly developed characters. Claudia Joy Holden (Dana Delaney, whose sexiness is derived from her strength, is at home in this role as she was on NYPD Blue; a much better fit than her brief stint on CSI: Miami) takes charge as the wife of Colonel Michael Holden (Brian McNamara). Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman) is the white trash intruder bearing two kids from two different men who marries Trevor (Drew Fuller) after only knowing him a few days. Denise (JAG’s Catherine Bell), wife of larger than life hero, Major Frank Sherwood (Terry Serpico), is left to fend for her home despite an abusive son Jeremy (Richard Bryant). Not all the Army wives are women as Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown) is the spouse of a lieutenant colonel wife who suffers post-traumatic stress syndrome after having served two years active duty in Afghanistan. This group of diverse people thrown together bonds over one of them—ex-cop Pamela (Brigid Brannagh), who acts as a surrogate to earn some extra cash—giving birth to twins while on a pool table.

“Maybe there are higher orders we should be following.” –Dr. Roland Burton

The easy comparison to make with this type of show would be to The Unit. Without the action driven focus, Army Wives allows the extra dimension of exclusively exploring the world of military wives. The wives aren’t wilting flowers either, having to hold together marriages/families largely in the absence of their spouses. Yet in many ways, their world is largely like ours. A world where image counts for more than it should, a world ruled by gossip, where families struggle with all matter of money issues, and the basic crisis of fitting in and finding community.

“It doesn’t matter what you believe. The pain is the same.” –CJ Holden

The thing that struck me was the idea of counting the cost of the life you choose. To join the Army means adhering to a chosen way of life. Military life can be every bit as much a calling, not for everyone, where a chosen few are called out for a special purpose. They choose a way of life, with its own code, to serve others, which sometimes runs contrary to both the needs of their family as well as their personal code. And their families are along for the journey. To be a part of such a group requires sacrifice, faith, and a community of relationships to support you during those inevitable dark and trying times.

“War does horrible things to people but it shouldn’t stop us from being human.” –Dr. Roland Burton

While Hollywood movies have struggled to make relevant movies with the Iraq War as a backdrop, television has had more success. Army Wives achieves a balance of being sexy, smart, and compelling without being condescending to its audience. The writing is on point, though I hate the trend of season climaxes that are too “big” (I lead a fairly interesting life. I haven’t witnessed any explosions nor has anyone I known blown up, unlike half of the season finales from last year. Although, a car caught fire in a Chick Fil A parking lot the other day, so that’s close). The stories, when they are “small”, dwelling on the everyday matters of life, are when the series fully hits home.

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