The “Stick Your Head in the Oven” Miniseries of All Time

“Generation Kill.” If you’ve seen “The Wire.” If you are interested in modern day warfare. If you love great television. Watch. This. Show. Holy shit.

Iceman, Ray, and their transport
Iceman, Ray, and their transport

I’m not going to review the entire series, (1) because I’m not done with it, (2) because this dude did it better already on his blog here, and (3) because I want to focus this entry to one aspect of the miniseries: hopelessness.

I can’t sleep. It’s almost 3am. I finished the 3rd episode over an hour ago, and it won’t let go. The decisions that are made by those in command. The effects those decisions have on the troops and the civilians and what we know now looking back. It is cavalier at best, recklessly absurdist at worst. The way blame gets shifted. The way the soldiers can’t speak up. The way poor decisions aren’t discussed. The way “following orders” means ignoring logic. The way all the soldiers just have to swallow it. The way all they can do is laugh sometimes. The way they all know what’s really going on and discuss it with each other but no one else is paying attention. The way honor isn’t valued like it says on the commercials. The way you feel empty because of the shit these guys have to face and hopeless because of the decisions that are made for them. The way in spite of all of these things, the show isn’t anti-solider in ANY sense and wisely doesn’t preach about either perspective on the war in Iraq itself (because right then, at that point, it’s irrelevant, they’re THERE, and they have a job to do). The way it is only anti-bullshit bureaucracy that gets in the way of these men doing a good job and often ends up screwing things up for them. The way it leaves a weight on your heart for these men. The way it makes you realize that they’re there and I’m here and this show is probably only a small fragment of what they go through, so what the hell do I know anyway? The way the show can be bleak and heart-wrenching and make you want to cry and scream and shoot someone and hug someone all at the same time. The way it shows that even in the midst of this unbearable heaviness, there may be glimmers of hope amongst the men, shards of it stashed inside all of the chaos. This is not something a lot of people will want to watch. It is unpleasant, yet somehow both entertaining and deeply engrossing. It will leave you with a heavy heart and an ache. You may feel hopeless for a while after you watch it. I do. And I probably should.

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