I don’t know how many of my readers watch “Army Wives” on Lifetime, but I download the episodes from iTunes so I can stay on top my one of my favorite shows! I am a little behind in my episodes, but things have just been too crazy to keep on top of a TV show, much less my life!!
So, a friend of mine, whom I highly respect had some interesting view points on last week’s show and I think it’s worth while to discuss my view point on this. Please check out her blog here.
On the episode that aired July 14, the character of a female sergeant is about to deploy, but her husband has eight months left in Iraq, and she has a daughter at home.
“Surely you have a backup in your family care plan,” says General’s wife Claudia Joy. But she doesn’t. When Claudia Joy tells her husband she fears the sergeant will refuse to deploy, the General – who really should know better – says that if she does, “She’ll get arrested.” Again: if the sergeant doesn’t abandon her daughter, she’ll go to jail.
Yes, those words happened, but I didn’t take it that way. The sergeant’s daughter had been caught stealing alcohol from the Exchange. Claudia’s daughter was with her. This is when it comes to light that a Family Care Plan is not in place for this family. Husband is deployed, been gone what, 4 months already? This is mom’s 3rd deployment, so it is safe to assume that the rotations worked out between mom and dad and there had been a valid Family Care plan in place. Claudia Joy is at home and she starts talking to her husband about the sergeant’s situation. The General’s absolutely right. You refuse to deploy, action will be taken against you. It’s called “missing movement” and the Army does not take kindly to this act, especially during deployments. Could very well end up in an arrest, especially since then, you’re AWOL. Then, he said, “She needs to go through her chain of command.” And he’s right about that, too. A post Commander really can’t do anything about that.
Now, normally, if you don’t have a valid family care plan, you’re given 30 days to get a valid FCP and are put on a Non-Deployable status. If you are unable to get one, you can be chaptered for it. It doesn’t mean that she would lose all of her benefits. Generally speaking, a Chapter 5-8 (failure to have a valid FCP) results in an Honorable discharge. If this sergeant had 20 years, which I’m guessing she does, since she’s an E-8, then retirement would probably be the best solution if this type of chapter were going to be initiated.
Later in the episode, we see that Claudia Joy had written a letter on the sergeant’s behalf to her chain of command. This is, in my opinion, valid. If Claudia Joy is in charge of the post FRG, then she is well within her boundariesto write such a letter, since it deals with a young family member. I don’t believe that Claudia Joy was trying to overstep her bounds.
In the July 14 episode mentioned above, for example, Denise’s deployed husband Frank doesn’t like Denise’s sudden “trolling around” on a motorcycle. He fears she’s becoming too independent. In other words, he’s stuck in sandbox-limbo and is afraid his wife’s life is gliding along without him, if not ahead of him. To create an understanding of what these people go through, the writers could have easily left it at that: Frank’s increasing frustration with what he imagines might be happening, and Denise’s hurt and frustration at having done nothing wrong and not knowing how to convince her husband. When any conversation could be the last, it is this need to be understood that causes incredible emotional friction. Instead, the writers throw in an extramarital attraction. Next week, one of the wives will tell Denise, “I know what it’s like to have a husband away.” As if the creation of an unlikely attraction is necessary, as if the audience is too base to appreciate a more complex conflict.
I believe that I have some authority to write on this, as I experienced a similar situation.
We saw in the episode before this how Denise was at her cafe when one of her attractive colleagues walks in. He receives a page from the hospital saying that there was an emergency. Denise offers to go with him, only to find that her motorcycle is out of gas. He offers her a ride to the hospital. She appears to be uneasy about this, but goes with him anyway. In the July 14thepisode, Denise and Roxie are in a cafeteria when this snotty woman says something about her riding on the motorcycle with the cute doctor. Roxie says, “Gossips are like cockroaches. If you see one, there are a thousand that you don’t.” Roxie’s nailed on the head! Later in the episode, cute doctor and Denise have to work together and he orders someone to get some medication for the patient. Denise said that she’d get it. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable in his presence and leaves quickly. Then, Denise gets a call from her husband, Frank. He’s calling from a satellite phone. He was calling to tell her that it was okay to keep the bike…but then he misspoke and said, “I let you be a nurse, didn’t I?” I honestly don’t think he meant it that way, but it sure did come out wrong. She’s understandably upset and she practically hangs up on him. We see later that she wants to remain friends with the cute doctor. She’s explained her position and he KNOWS that she’s married and it appears to be innocent.
While my husband was deployed in 2006, he thought I was leaving him behind, too. He wanted to know all of my movements, no matter how mundane. He wanted to know what I had eaten for lunch and what I had bought at the PX. There were things that I had done while he was deployed that I hadn’t done before and I think he felt a little left out. He thought that my world was changing and he was afraid that when he got back he that there wouldn’t be any room left for him in it. I know that Rob could probably relate to Frank’s character, even though he doesn’t know anything about the show. Denise’s character has gone through a lot of changing in the last year and I’m looking forward to seeing how she’s going to develop.
As for the extra-marital stuff–that stuff is REAL! My friend T said that when her hubby deployed for the first time, the ladies kept each other company…and a few of them ended up having lesbian affairs and when their husband’s returned, they left their husbands to be with each other. While the guys are deployed, they worry ALL the time that their wives are going to find someone else. Of course, many wives worry about the same thing…while he’s in Iraq, is he going to cheat on me with another Soldier? Trust me, it happens. A lot of Soldiers have the mentality of, “What happens on a deployment, stays on a deployment…” I also had another friend who had I don’t know how many affairs while her husband was gone. I suspected that she was, but was confirmed to be true later. Another thing that people don’t think about is the association factor. If you associate with someone who has been naughty during the deployment, everyone knows and if you’re hanging out with that person, you must be, too. I know, I was associated with that person. So, of course, everyone thought I was having affairs, too! The power of gossip! Funnily enough, I had quit smoking during my husband’s deployment, I already had the bad association and about two weeks into quitting smoking, all I wanted to eat were french fries. I couldn’t get enough of them (and the cravings lasted for about 3 weeks). So, then, the rumor started that I was pregnant!! PLLLLUUUUUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEAAAAAASSSEEEE!!
Personally, I think Army Wives is an excellent show. Yes, it is Hollywood-ized to some degree, but in my opinion, does a good at showing these difficult situations such as the FCP and adultry sequences outlined here–and they DO happen. Please don’t get me wrong, because there are other things in the show like the stealing of the weapons and then going to the local bar to blow it up because you’re an abusive husband who’s jealous beyond belief because your wife is leaving you for another man…or the sergeant who had just returned from deployment and gets a 9mm gun and is holding people at gunpoint! Not so much! But other than those types of dramas, it’s well done.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend that you start with the first season. It is currently available to own on DVD, rent from Netflix, download from iTunes and to watch on the lifetime.com website.