Monthly Archives: October 2012

M*A*S*H: Classes Combined By War

This is our second week of discussing classes in my media class.  We watched a 60 minute documentary called “Class Dismissed” in which they discussed how the working class has been portrayed on TV since TV came into existence.  We had to write a reflection as an assignment and could not discuss it in our blog.  Therefore, I will only say that it is a good piece and is worth a watch.

The television show M*A*S*H was labeled a sitcom (lasting 11 years, 8 years longer than the actual Korean War/Conflict itself) although not every episode was funny.  They dealt with serious issues many times.  At the 4077th MASH, a conglomerate of classes is forced together and must live as a unit…like a huge family.  Hawkeye Pierce is a doctor from Crab Apple Cove, ME, a talented surgeon drafted into the Army after his residency.  BJ Hunnicut is a doctor from California, having to leave behind a wife and newborn daughter.  Charles Emerson Winchester III is a doctor from Boston and came from a wealthy family to begin with.  Margaret Houlihan is a tough, lifelong Army nurse coming from a military family, although she softens in later seasons.  Radar O’Reilly is the naïve farm boy from Ottumwa, Iowa, that had extra sensory perception, got sick from liquor and drank grape Nehi.  Maxwell Klinger is from Lebanese decent hailing from Toledo, OH, trying to get out of the Army via a Section 8 so he wears women’s clothing (until Potter gives him a speech about how a Section 8 can affect the rest of his life).  Col. Sherman Potter is a long time Army man that has seen 3 wars, starting out in Calvary on a horse in WWI and misses his wife back in Missouri.  Col. Henry Blake was from Bloomington, IL, had his own private practice, and was a reservist brought in to originally run the 4077th MASH.  He was discharged and going home when his plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.  Trapper John McIntyre is a doctor and married, also, from an unknown city.  Frank Burns is a doctor from Indiana, married and very Army by the book.  He was loud, argumentative and the butt of a lot of jokes.  He eventually has a breakdown and is sent to a hospital in Tokyo.  Father Francis Mulcahy is the somewhat quirky Army Chaplain that is quick to help anyone with anything.

All of these characters with different backgrounds and classes come together.  Yes, they clash a lot.  Is it because of their class?  No…unless you’re looking at it from Major Winchester’s view.  He’s the wealthy one and cannot stand everyone else’s antics, rubbish and attitude.  They have to coexist together because each other is all they have during this time of war and trying to save the wounded.  From practical jokes, to facing real fears, their views of the Korean War to why they are there, they help each other.  They joke with each other.  They drink a lot of alcohol.  They laugh, argue and cry.  Friends among classes, friends within classes.  They will always remain friends even when they get to go home because of what they endured together…not because of their class and background.