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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Enlisted is a sitcom set on a domestic military base where characters treat their country and military service mostly respectfully, but that message is occasionally undercut with questionable hijinks, such as characters taking a tank for a joyride. There is some cursing and innuendo, plus jokes about weight and people of color, though these comments are usually subverted somehow. Characters frequently hang out at a bar and drink onscreen, including taking shots of tequila and referring to drinking contests. Some scenes take place in battles, with gunfire raining down and the potential for death played for laughs. Battle is glorified and soldiers gauge how tough and strong they are by how much "action" they have seen, though blood and gore is never an issue.
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What's the story?
Supersoldier Pete Hill (Geoff Stults) was headed for Patton-like military glory, until he punched a superior in Afghanistan. Now ENLISTED finds him booted back to Fort McGee, a Florida military base where, it happens, his two misfit brothers are stationed: sweet, sensitive, and excitable Randy (Parker Young) and sarcastic troublemaking middle brother Derrick (Chris Lowell). Now Pete is Randy and Derrick's platoon sergeant, and what a platoon it is, full of what caustic rival Staff Sergeant Jill Perez (Angelique Cabral) calls "rejects and mental patients." The platoons headed by both Pete and Perez are part of Rear D, the soldiers left behind when their units are deployed for battle. Pete disparages the job as washing cars and mowing lawns. But what Rear D really does is help care for the families waiting for soldiers to (hopefully) return from war. And as Pete's starting to figure out, that's an important job.
Is it any good?
It's been a long time since M*A*S*H, and Enlisted's ripe, absurd comic situations make you question why more sitcoms aren't set in the military. You've got your workplace/bureaucracy humor like The Office or Parks and Recreation, a group of young cuties similar to what you'd find on Friends, even heartwarming family dynamics such as those found on Modern Family thanks to the three-brothers-one-platoon setup.
But just because Enlisted has aspects similar to these other well-loved shows doesn't mean that it's tired. On the contrary, the show scores by putting relatable, charming characters in (mostly) realistically ridiculous situations (a staple of army life, if tale-spinning ex-soldiers are to be believed). The dialogue is smart and witty, the jokes are fresh, and the sweetness is palpable. Exhibit A: Pete accuses of Perez of having a "big old nacho chip" on her shoulder. She winces and so does he: "I thought it'd be funny because you're Hispanic," he apologizes, "but it just came out hateful." And we laugh, twice. This is a good one for whole-family viewing with teens, particularly military families.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Enlisted is a realistic look at military service, or whether situations and characters are amplified for comic effect. Has anyone in your family served in the military? What do they report about military life?
Military comedies like M*A*S*H. and Hogan's Heroes were once a staple on television, but haven't been as popular in recent years. Since soldiers, current and ex, often see military life as a rich source of humor, why would this be?
Generally, active soldiers are young and in shape. Why might this make such characters more attractive to networks who want to launch a successful show?
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