Even if you don’t watch “Enlisted”, you’re not ready for it to be over

You’re going to miss “Enlisted” when it’s gone.

Make no mistake: I’m not talking to those that will tune in to the season one finale this Sunday. I’m talking to those that will stumble across this at some point in the near future on some streaming service by accident, decide to take a chance because hey, you’ve watched everything else, and then scream four hours later after consuming all thirteen episodes to no one in particular, “WHY DID NO ONE EVER TELL ME ABOUT THIS SHOW?”

That’s who I’m talking to right now. Not those that have already read everything I’ve written about the show.  Those in the future who are really mad there’s no more Hill brothers, no more Perez, no more Cody, no more Rear D. You.

I’m sending you a warning ahead of time. Think of this blog entry like a missive from the TARDIS, beamed across time and space in order to get those who will only discover it when it’s too late to invest a little bit now. After this Sunday’s finale, it’s likely that the show’s all-but-assured fate will be forever sealed. But pessimism doesn’t win in “Enlisted,” and therefore it doesn’t win here. Not now. Not at this point.

Here by the sea and sand
Nothing ever goes as planned,
I just couldn’t face going home
It was just a drag on my own.

enlisted-8.JPGThose lyrics, written by Pete Townshend for the album “Quadrophenia,” partially describe some of what’s to come in the Sunday finale. That, along with the last two episodes, aired in Austin during the ATX Television Festival a few weeks ago as a mini-marathon. And when I say you haven’t really seen “Enlisted” yet, I mean that you haven’t seen the finale, which is a crystallization of the show’s comedy and pathos that somehow dignifies all that has come before and leaves a clear sense of how it might proceed. If you’re already a fan of the show, you’ll laugh until you’ll cry, and then you’ll ugly cry until you laugh at what a mess the show has made you. And that’s not just personal experience talking: That analysis comes from seeing three hundred people reduced to puddles at what transpires this Sunday on FOX.

Those tears didn’t come from a place of sadness, except inasmuch as the crowd sensed they were part of a moment that was fleeting. Nothing truly lasts, but is it too much to ask someone to let “Enlisted” last a little longer? This show found itself remarkably early, but hadn’t even begun to paint in the various corners of its universe. After that minimarathon, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel involving the show’s cast and writing staff. But what really shone through was the mutual respect both panel and audience had for each other. It’s not surprising to hear that an audience at a television festival loved the cast of a television show. And yet, there was something slightly different from all the other panels I attended, to the point where I felt confident enough to ask the audience to put hands on each others’ heads to show support and thanks for the work those onstage had done. Those next to me under the lights immediately took out cameras and phones to mark the moment.

It’s that type of symbiosis that makes the departure difficult for those fully invested in the antics and events in Fort McGee. It’s not just that the audience isn’t ready to give this show up…those involved aren’t, either. Most actors will publicly praise the casts and crews of their current gigs, but it’s somewhat easy to tell when it’s genuine and when it’s a publicity stunt. When those that make the thing you love love making it as much as you love watching it is a potent, palpable combination. “Enlisted” is a show made with love that’s designed to be loved. It’s not designed to be liked or admired. It’s built to be loved with every fiber of its being. And while there are plenty for whom the show doesn’t work, there are few who are actually ambivalent about it. You don’t casually date “Enlisted.” You propose after the third date and start looking into UHAUL pricing.

If you’re somehow reading this without having seen an episode, you could watch one or more right now. There are worse ways to spend your weekend. Watch it. Tweet about it. Share it. There are forty-eight hours left in which to still make a difference. Don’t watch it because I tell you to watch it. Watch it because you want to, even though you don’t know you do. Ignore what you think this show is about and embrace it for what it is: A show about the power of community over isolation, the power of love over doubt, the power of laughter over tears.

Life can indeed be a drag on your own.

But “Enlisted”? “Enlisted” feels like home.