A few years back, Fox made a play at a military comedy with the brilliant and charming Enlisted. However, after a one season and done cancelation, no one has made much of a play at the genre since, save for a limited series adaptation of Catch-22 at Hulu starring George Clooney. But now, as we head into a brand new decade filled with possibility, Paramount Network is
taking a leap of faith with the truly wonderful 68 Whiskey.
Created by Roberto Benabib and based on the Israeli format, Charlie Golf One, 68 Whiskey follows the lives of various military personnel stationed on a NATO base in Afghanistan and all of the nonsense that comes with them.
While an hour-long series, 68 Whiskey is far from a straight-forward drama – which is why its closest companion in the TV space is that of Fox’s long since canceled military sitcom. This show is like if FX did that show and made it an hour long. There are moments contained within it that are truly gut-busting, others that are charming and even more that are straight dramatic and
pure military narrative (an opening sequence in the first episode sells this part of the show very well).
The other thing the show has going for it is its rejection of a need to make its main characters anti-heroes, as is the usual case in a high-end cable program such as this. While these military professionals sometimes do despicable things, none of it is necessarily hateful or done with malice. They aren’t “good” people… but they aren’t Vic Mackey either. They’re a
complicated mix of actions in the best of ways.
They are just the kind of characters we need after a decade of… questionable main characters being at the forefront of pop culture, to say the least. They are morally centered while maintaining the kind of slap-stick charm that is going to keep audiences coming back week in and week out.
Overall, 68 Whiskey is a masterclass on how to portray likable characters that do questionable things while still remaining morally centered. It has the goods and every right to be embraced come premiere time.
If it’s any indication of how the next decade of television is going to go, then we’re in for a good one.