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|Written by Neil Perry|
|Monday, 31 December 2007 19:00|
The Unit, in a nutshell, looks at an elite special ops team who is sent on missions around the world to capture, assassinate, and free persons of interest. However, this show is interesting in that it also spends time with those people left behind on the ‘homefront’. Each week, an episode can vary from looking at the team as they try to accomplish their mission by overcoming the odds seemingly stacked against them, to showing their loved ones – wives, family memebers, girlfriends and commanding officers – who are on base as they go about their lives.
The show is the brainchild of Shawn Ryan, who is perhaps better known for creating a show called The Shield, one of my favourite shows currently on TV. In his shows, Shawn Ryan often collapses dualistic conceptions of right and wrong, focusing instead on the grey elements. For instance, The Shield portrays a team of police officers who walk along the grey side of the law – planting evidence in order to arrest a guilty offender, and skimming confiscated money in order to distribute it to their families. In terms of The Unit, it looks at the other side of the revered military life by looking at those people who see their husbands, wives, sons, and daughters leave for battle and the uncertainty which results from not knowing whether or not the loved one will come back alive. For example, one episode is entitled “Always Kiss Them Goodbye”, wherein a member of the team could very well be killed by saving several thousand others.
The women who are left on the base have important parts within the narrative and are not passive characters as one would believe. The roles in which the women undertake are in terms of finances such as the real estate market, the stock market, each with degrees of effectiveness. The series, through the female characters and their experiences with military life, raises a number of valid critiques in terms of the regulations, guidelines, and policies of the real US Army structure. The women in The Unit point to the flaws in the present-day military. These critiques include forceful removal from the base after a husband is killed in action, a lack of jobs on base, and low pay based on the dangers their husbands face. As a viewer, I like both parts of the show – from the well-staged action scenes to the melodramatic scenes where flaws in the military are exposed.
There are a few general critiques I have of the show. For those who have read this far and are somewhat interested in watching, view it with these critiques in mind. This show could be seen as propaganda given that a mission rarely fails. Regardless of how rough the mission seems or how much resistance ‘The Unit’ faces, they always come through with their intended outcome. Throughout the series, the US is praised for its strength and determination. This patriotism can be a bit disconcerting with what is really happening in US foreign policy and the resultant wars on the global front.
In all though, this series is a decent way if you’re looking to pass sometime. Although The Unit has obvious flaws, (I haven’t even mentioned the blatant sexism of the series) it is nonetheless an enjoyable way to pass the time. It presents an interesting look at the military, both from the soldiers’ perspective and from the perspective of those people who the soldiers leave behind when they depart for military service. I hope that this little article was worth your time and I look forward to whatever comments you have for me!