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Will FOX's military comedy 'Enlisted' become casualty of ratings?

Mar. 13, 2014 - 06:31PM   |  
A scene from FOX's 'Enlisted,' which has seen an uptick in ratings since a rough debut in January.
A scene from FOX's 'Enlisted,' which has seen an uptick in ratings since a rough debut in January. (Greg Gayne/FOX)
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Despite early reports declaring “Enlisted” dead on arrival, the new FOX comedy series is fighting on with a surge of support from military and DVR watchers.

“For freshman shows, ratings are all that matter, and the ratings for Enlisted make it certain to be canceled,” promised entertainment website TV by the Numbers just after the show premiered in January with dismal early ratings.

With such a rough start, some industry insiders even predicted that “Enlisted” would get an early discharge, with the network pulling the plug before the show completed its initial 13-episode run.

Not so fast, a top FOX executive tells Military Times.

“There haven’t been any talks of ‘Enlisted’ being canceled,” he says. And despite the sluggish start, ratings are ticking up, he says. “The show has been doing well. And it sees some of the largest DVR boosts of any show each week.”

The show’s second-season fate likely will be decided in May, he says.

While the pilot episode was rife with ridiculous errors that made just about anyone with a military background cringe, producers were quick to find military advisers to help turn things around. They even embraced the suck, with a “Count the Errors” contest that awarded 1,000 of the show’s challenge coins to the first of some 2,500 entries.

Since then, military- and veteran-friendly fans have rallied around the show.

“I’m now a huge Enlisted fan,” writes Lewis Nelson, an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who is now a military blogger. Initially a hater, he says the show’s writing and growing attention to detail have turned him around.

“In a nutshell, the show is good enough to ignore any inconsistencies with military uniform standards, and definitely funny enough to not notice the moments where real soldiers know ‘that would never happen,’ ” he writes.

Of course, trading some tweets with Angelique Cabral, who plays female lead Staff Sgt. Jill Perez, helped a little, too. “While stunningly beautiful in ACUs, she’s also a very believable NCO,” he says.

“And just because you’re probably thinking it, I don’t just like the show because Angelique Cabral replied to me on Twitter,” he adds. “I noticed she replied to just about everybody! It’s the fact that the cast is engaging fans and the military, and they’re willing to discuss real military topics. It indicates this isn’t just a comedy show they’re doing, they also want to correctly represent the men and women who serve.”

In a recent post on RangerUp’s Rhino Den blog, Air Force veteran Kerry Patton writes: “As a veteran who often finds himself dealing with his own issues on occasion, I laughed during the show. Let me re-phrase that. I laughed out loud during the show and I know many fellow veterans did as well.”

The show captures that essential element that any military show will need with veterans, he says: It rings true. And, just as important, that kind of laughter makes for good medicine.

“The show made me reflect on several of my friends who easily could have played the roles of some of the cast simply because of the things they had done during their careers. I even saw myself during the show. The reflections seen throughout the show, in many regards, brought a sense of relief.”

“Enlisted” airs at 9 p.m. Fridays ET/PT.

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