There is a downside to going without cable: If you do it long enough, eventually you will find yourself watching back-to-back episodes of Army Wives, because it will be the only thing on streaming Netflix that you haven’t yet seen. That’s if you’re like me, and tend to save the worst for last.
Army Wives is about a group of women who live on a fictional Army base in South Carolina. You know it’s fictional because the women are all svelte and beautiful. They all live in grand villas and drive new Ford SUVs. Their husbands are all macho, well-meaning men who keep getting deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and then keep returning a couple of days later to apologize for previous misunderstandings. Two seasons in, there’s one guy on the show who has been deployed about 25 times now. He keeps popping in for birthdays and most of the major holidays. He can’t talk about the horrors he’s seen, but he’s very good with the kids.
Army Wives is apparently a major hit for Lifetime, the network best known as the place where aging actresses plod through the twilight of their careers. (We like to play “Spot-the-Has-Beens.” So far, we’ve identified Markie Post, Marsha Mason and Barbara Eden.) In look and and writing quality, it reminds me of 7th Heaven: Overlit, formulaic, and utterly risk-averse. At Fort Feelgood, all the villains are emphatically Caucasian and apolitical and motivated solely by problems of a personal nature — including a suicide bomber who manages to take out an entire bar with the loss of only one minor character. Every emotional point in the show — and there are a lot of them — is underlined by some reedy, wistful song that can sometimes be mistaken for a radio playing in the background.
In short: It’s utter crap. So why do I watch it? Because there’s something about truly awful television that can make one feel clever and superior, especially if one is watching it with someone else who laughs at one’s sarcastic asides. I used to have a lot of fun with 7th Heaven too.