MASH, the TV show, was ahead of its time for so many reasons. Today, there are countless sitcoms that use situational comedy, workplace antics, and gag humor to entertain us. There are also many medical dramas that show the intensity of emergency rooms and various medical situations. You can also find no shortage of war-related actions and dramas.
Anything you are looking for these days, you can find to fill up 30-60 mins and unwind with. But none of them would arguably be the way they are without MASH. In 2022, MASH is turning 50 and we’re taking a look back at one of the most iconic television shows in history.
MASH Was a Groundbreaking TV Show
MASH didn’t just make you laugh, it made you think. It made you feel. The characters from MASH were beloved by millions of people. So much so, that a creative decision while writing the infamous M*A*S*H episode “Abyssinia, Henry,” would go on to spark a flood of letters to the creators and backlash even from the network.
MASH characters, however, weren’t the only reason that this show was successful. The MASH cast was brilliant, of course, but showcasing the realities of war against the backdrop of a fun, lighthearted comedic environment was unique for the time. There was dark humor, and silly humor, but also realistic drama and themes that ran throughout each season.
The MASH TV show that was brought to the homes of millions decades ago may have taken some a while to catch on, but once it did, there was no going back. Its impact remains seen today in not only the art form of crafting a great television show, but also in how Americans adopt the harsher parts of war into their media.
The Cast of MASH the TV Show Wanted Comedy, With Balance
The cast of MASH was an interesting one. Talented and charming, but the show would also benefit from having Veterans as a part of the crew. Both Alan Alda and Jamie Farr served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. This, along with the various other Veteran cast members and contributors, would help guide some of the aspects of the show, including the way MASH approached the theme of the futility of war.
Comedy was always the bread and butter of the MASH TV show, but it was still a show centered around the work of men and women facing life or death situations from both warfare and medical scenarios. Alda has been very outspoken about the need for MASH to take the realities of war seriously and it’s in part because of this that the iconic show was able to take us all along for a hilarious ride, yet fill it with poignant, heartfelt moments.
Paralleling the Korean War With Themes of the Vietnam War
Although M*A*S*H was never intended to be an anti-war statement, there are many who viewed it as such. This is in part because of the show running at the same time as the Vietnam War and the counterculture movement active at the time. Still, as the show progressed, it evolved to display more of the realities of working in a MASH unit in a way that hit right viewers in the current cultural awareness.
The creators of the MASH TV show were also Veterans, which means that the military aspects of the show were handled with incredible knowledge and intent. Viewers would find images of helicopters delivering wounded troops eerily similar to the images coming back from the jungles and mountains of Vietnam. Overall, deliberate or not, MASH helped shape the way wars are portrayed in media as well as the way the general public views warfare as a whole.
Where Was MASH Filmed?
Over the course of its 10+ year run, MASH was filmed on a movie ranch in Malibu Creek State Park that was operated by Twentieth Century Fox. The MASH site in Malibu Creek State Park is still preserved and fans of the show can hike to the location to see it for themselves. If you’re looking to get outdoors and are a fan of the antics from the sitcom, this is a great hike that has a little more to offer than a routine run out on the trail.
As the MASH TV show we all know and love begins to celebrate its 50th anniversary, you can be sure that a variety of celebrations and marathons are to come. It’s a great time to rewatch some of the most beloved episodes in television history, as well as reflect on the realities our current service members may endure as they sacrifice to keep Americans safe all around the globe.
Suggested Read: 5 Asian-American War Heroes We Should’ve Learned About in School