In these trying times, ARMY WIVES may be the perfect primetime soap for viewers looking to find a world where things make sense despite the fact that the one we live in often doesn’t. For the men and women who live on the active army base at fictional Fort Marshall, South Carolina, there are well-established rules in place and consequences must be paid by those who don’t abide by them.
It’s an oddly comforting place to be given the pervasive “anything-goes” culture that surrounds us.
This is a world where a nurse’s dalliance with a patient winds up costing the woman her job… not because she is married, but because she signed a Code Of Conduct contract and her behavior violated it. And when marital problems push a military man into the arms of a woman who is not his wife, he must think not only about the vows he took at his wedding but also the impact on his career in the army.
In the third season (the premiere episode of which debuted last night and can be seen again tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime), it’s clear that this is a show with one of the strongest moral compasses on the air. But don’t for one minute making the mistake of thinking that somehow detracts from the soapy drama at hand. If anything, it enhances it, because the characters here are at war with not only themselves but the powerful higher calling they — or their spouses — have signed on for by taking on a role in the military.
In the world of ARMY WIVES, even young love is influenced by forces greater than hormones. In the opening moments of the premiere, 16-year-old Emmalin Holden, daughter of Fort Marshall’s Brigadier General, has run off with her slightly-older beau. But their plan to tie the knot is quickly foiled by the double-threats imposed by her father and the young man’s budding army career. Needless to say, the heartbroken Emmalin — whose sister was killed last season following an explosion — will prove something of a handful for mom Claudia Joy (radiant series star Kim Delaney) in the weeks to come.
Unlike a certain group of DESPERATE wives, the women of Fort Marshall rarely find themselves going an episode without doing a little bonding. Their friendships are at the heart of the show and, like the codes of conduct which serve as an invisible character, those relationships are palpable and essential. Without them, the show would not work as well as it does, and most daytime soaps could learn a thing or two about storytelling from the writers who keep both the relationships and the storylines grounded in reality. ARMY WIVES is a guilt-free pleasure thanks to its enormous heart and genuine sense of community.
As one might expect from a show on Lifetime, ARMY WIVES can, on occasion, become overly sentimental and, every now and then, predictable. But in the hands of a stellar cast — I defy anyone to not fall in love with Sally Pressman’s Roxy — the show shines where others might fail. And given the lack of original, non-reality programming, this sudsy drama couldn’t come at a better time.