I was having dinner with Sage of Head Over Feels on Wednesday when her phone buzzed with the news that Enlisted had been canceled. We had just been saying ten minutes earlier that we really believed the show could find an audience if the network would give it a chance.
Enlisted deserved better than what it got, bumped to Fridays with a constantly changing lead-in and little promotion beyond a few posters in my subway station. And it deserved to air in order. The story was told on note cards that were shuffled up before airing; the fact that I loved every episode anyway, even when I was expected to know characters before we’d been properly introduced, says the show was doing its job better than most. Enlisted wore its heart on its sleeve without getting sappy. The Hill brothers were key in that area, not only because their relationship was the show’s core, but also because they grounded each other. If any one of them risked veering too far toward sentiment or irreverence, there was always someone to pull him back.
Pete had a chip on his shoulder and Randy couldn’t raise his voice except to defend Pixar characters, but Derrick was the one I wanted to hang out with most. I’m going to miss his hair and total lack of filter. Derrick instigated at a level most of us can only dream of. I want more of his interactions with adorable children and grumpy old men. I want to explore Randy’s shark thing and watch him try on more hats. I wouldn’t mind another year of shirtless Parker Young hugs, either. I’ll miss the half shirt and Pete’s chemistry with Jill, who was good at her job and smelled like America. The women on this show were phenomenal. (“We are like sexual catnip up in here. All ethnic bases covered, too.” “We’re like a yogurt commercial!”) Think of the turkeys in the straw, JaMorts, and panda bear inspiration we could have enjoyed in season two.
Plenty has already been written about how much Enlisted meant to military families, and most of it has been written by actual authorities on the subject, which I am not. But if we want to talk about things getting personal, the garage door in the pilot made me pretty emotional. All of those suburbs and short dirty palm trees and old motels are the ones I grew up with. They filmed in LA, but I could always place the action in a very specific part of my Florida hometown. I’m going to miss how real that made this show for me. Someone buy the location scouts and set designers a cake. My treat.
The whole team of this show was behind it all the way. The cast and crew had live-tweet parties for every episode and most of the re-runs, and even when the show wasn’t on, they were in a constant state of group hugging through social media. That kind of warmth just rubs off on a show. I’ve never felt so clever and appreciated for tweeting someone else’s words. So thanks for all of the hands on my head every week, Enlisted.
“Yeah he just got back from WAR so YEAH IT’S GLITTER.”
“I found a basset hound named Reggie. We solved some crimes together.”
“How about ‘Give me back those CDs you borrowed, Brian’?” “That’s not a motto.” “But it does need to be said.”
“What’ve you got there, a paper blog?”
“That lamp DOESN’T HAVE A FAMILY.”
“We were gonna take him to Disney World.” “Oh sweet! Is he gonna wear the ears? He has to wear the ears.”
“I found a man-sized bird cage.” “He trapped me in it.”
“My aunt has a house cat that she paints like a zebra. It’s VERY aggressive with people.”
“I saw the image you posted online.” “You could’ve liked it.”
“He’s like a teacup Adonis.”
“You make me want to be a better man. I’m not going to be, but you lit a fire.”
“There’s also a bunch of weird hypersexual behavior with bonobos that doesn’t really apply.”
“I’m looking forward to death.” “I like you.”
“A horrific injury was sustained by the coach in the babydoll top.”
“We’ll add a third bunk right on top of here. I saw it on a Japanese website. Everyone looked SO happy.”
“I’m sorry, what’s that magic land you live in where kids aren’t dicks?”
“Oh sweet dude, TBD is playing.” “What’s their big song again?”
“A lot of this knowledge hasn’t made it to the internet yet.”