M*A*S*H (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) is not your average doctor show or sitcom. Running eleven seasons from 1972-83, it tells the tale of a camp of American army surgeons who care for wounded soldiers during the Korean War (though the show itself lasted longer than the Korean War did). They move around from place to place depending on where the fighting is and figure out ways to make the most of their lives in the middle of a warzone. The show is on Netflix, so here are five reasons why you should make this show your next binge-watch series.
1. Short Episodes
Each episode of M*A*S*H is a little over twenty minutes long total, so it’ll take about as long to watch one episode as it would an episode of The Office or Friends. But don’t let that dissuade you from watching it. Twenty minutes is still plenty of time to tell a good story. So go ahead and click that “Next Episode” button or just sit there and wait for Netflix to do it for you. Don’t worry, we all do it.
2. Awesome Characters
Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda) is the main character and the best surgeon in camp. A quick-witted, no-nonsense “nice guy” with a deft ability to handle tough situations, he is easily one of the most likable characters on the show. But every main character needs a best friend. This is where Captains “Trapper” John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) and B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) come in, one for each half of the show. They provide a source of comical banter, friendly rapport, and deep conversations. Majors Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) and Frank Burns (Larry Linville), despite being higher-ranked officers, are the most common targets for Hawkeye and Trapper/B.J.’s jokes and teasing. Colonels Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) and Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan), in the first and second halves of the show, respectively, are the head honchos of the hospital camp, and provide further hilarity, advice, and often, a final word on a conflict.
These are just a few of the main characters. If you watch the show, you’ll get to meet characters like Major Margaret “Hotlips” Houlihan, Father Mulcahy, Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, and the spunky Corporal Max Klinger. Each one is fascinating and provides a unique point of view on life in a wartime hospital camp.
3. It’s Hilarious
Many of the characters on M*A*S*H are witty and joke around a lot, and the show itself is just plain funny. Some might think this is inappropriate, as the show is set during a time of war, but it’s actually quite the opposite. The people in this army hospital camp see the worst part of the war every day: the casualties. But they still manage to make light of the situation by joking, having fun between surgery shifts, and cracking jokes while doing surgical procedures. It’s their version of coping with the chaos around them. Throughout the show, there are many in-camp conflicts, such as gossip, bar talk, seniority, sickness, weather changes, and danger from the war itself (i.e. bombings and snipers), and humor helps them deal with this. In spite of all the tough conditions, though, the doctors find ways to make the camp their home away from home. This includes everything from wisecracks about meals to intricate party-planning to having drinks in a tent. These men and women definitely know that laughter is the best medicine.
4. But It’s Also Serious
It wouldn’t be a TV show set during a war if there weren’t dangers and difficulties to cope with. Characters face their inner demons, especially homesickness, bemoan the fates of the young soldiers they operate on, and at times, mourn the loss of friends to death and to returning home. Despite being silly, M*A*S*H still knows how to handle the inevitably scary and difficult times, many of which have the potential to make the viewer cry. But the good thing is, no matter what bad things happen, it’s all pretty much resolved by the end of the episode.
5. It’s A Genuinely Good TV Show
M*A*S*H was created in the ’70s and ’80s, during a time of great, decent TV, like The A-Team, Knight Rider, and others. It’s very real with its audience, and doesn’t have to stretch far in order to find drama or good stories. It has good, well-fleshed-out characters and well-developed plotlines, and tells a lot of interesting stories.
So go ahead and check it out on Netflix, and see how good ’70s/’80s TV can be.