Fox's new military comedy, "Enlisted," found itself having to explain how it manages to make light of the often harsh realities of war and a soldier's life at Thursday's Television Critics Association press tour.
"It's really, really important to me and to [executive producer Mike Royce] and the entire cast that we never appeared to be mocking or disrespectful," series creator Kevin Biegel said.
"That's not what this show is," he continued, pointing out that he sees only two ways the military is portrayed in pop culture: the super soldier or the one "wrecked by PTSD."
"There's also a great swath of people in the middle that do this job and do it nobly and love it and they get frustrated by it sometimes and sometimes they do have a lot of fun doing it," he continued. "We're talking about 25 million people who are either active service members or veterans and to tell them that they have to fit in one of those two camps didn't seem fair."
"Enlisted" stars Geoff Stults plays Sergeant Pete Hill who finds himself transferred to the same Florida base where his younger brothers (played by Parker Young and Chris Lowell) are stationed. Pete finds himself in charge of the platoon made up of those who aren't good enough to go overseas but not bad enough to be kicked out of the army, including his brothers.
"We wanted to set the show in this world about this group of misfits," the producer said. "It's a very particular base and a very particular set of troops. We're certainly not saying every soldier is like this."
Reporters mentioned two scenes from the pilot that may be a bit over the top or percieved as insulting. The first involves the guys surfing while being pulled by a tank (a soldier confirmed to the producers that he and his fellow soldiers actually did that) and a reference to a black soldier with an army-issued prosthetic leg that's white (that's a nod to what he has gone through in his career, Biegel said).
And what if one of the soldiers does get asked to serve overseas? "That may certainly happen and the show will probably deal with it," the producer answered.
"Comedy is one thing, but the show is not worth it to us if we're not addressing the reality of what these characters are going through," he added.
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- Kevin Biegel