The Lives of Army Wives.
My initial feeling when I sat down to watch the freshman season of Army Wives on DVD and the new episodes from its now-airing second season on Lifetime was one of guilt. I’ll admit that as much as I love news and politics, I don’t frequently think about the lives of the family members who sacrifice their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and siblings to the armed services in this time of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. While I’m busy obsessing over the start of the second season of Mad Men, it’s a bit too easy to blot out the messiness of war from my mind, ignore the current plight of military families because to actually have to ponder the costs they’re bearing is extraordinarily depressing. I have the luxury of putting all of that out of my mind while military families don’t.
So from that point of view, I am very sympathetic to the concept of the Lifetime drama: The lives of fictional families living on an Army post in Charleston, South Carolina. The show features a variety of characters, among them:
-- Joan Burton (Wendy Davis), a female lieutenant colonel and second in command on the post on which she lives with her psychiatrist husband Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown).
-- Claudia Joy Holden (Kim Delaney), a Harvard Law educated mother of two teens (one who died in the first season) who abandoned her career and married an Army guy, now Brigadier General Michael Holden (Brian McNamara).
-- Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman), a cocktail waitress and mother of two whose new husband, Army Private First Class Trevor LeBlanc (Drew Fuller), just came back from serving in Iraq where he was injured.
-- Denise Sherwood (Catherine Bell), a self-described Army brat and nurse who resumed her career after an 18-year hiatus while her husband, Major Frank Sherwood (Terry Serpico) -- who strenuously didn’t want her to work even though their son was grown and enlisted in the Army -- then left for Iraq.
-- Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh), a former cop now radio talk show host and mom of two whose husband Chase (Jeremy Davidson) is in the super-secret Delta Force, meaning he can’t tell her when he’s shipping out, to where and for how long.
In the first season of Army Wives, Burton overcame alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from service in Afghanistan, something many soldiers are facing with an all-too much frequency and it seems that every week we see a new story about a troubled soldier coping with trying to readjust to life in the States. “What I did over there, if you knew, you wouldn’t love me,” Burton told her husband, Roland, who had no idea how to handle the situation. (He slept on the sofa for a few weeks after her return.) In the current season, Lt. Col. Burton is pregnant and concerned that she’ll lose career traction after having her baby.