Taking a candid view into the rarely seen world of the military spouse life, “Married To The Army: Alaska” debuts this month on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).
This has been a labor of love and determination for Stephanie Drachkovitch, Executive Producer. She is the Vice President and Co-Owner of 44 Blue Productions, Inc. The daughter of a career Army father (Army brat), who lived in Alaska, Drachkovitch also has prior experience with military projects such as “The True Story of Black Hawk Down”. It still took over four years to get permission from the Department of Defense for all access filming on the installation and of the chosen families. The approval outcome determined the branch of service, location and installation featured.
I’ve spoken to and e-mailed with Stephanie. Personable and friendly, she is very excited for the show to air and proud of the seven women we will meet and follow in the series.
This show is the first of its kind and a docu-series, not a reality show.
Interest and curiosity about the military over the past ten years has garnered other potential projects seeking to capture these experiences. Stephanie had the drive, personal background and proven experience to get the all access approval. “There are enough challenges that these families face with deployment. We weren’t interested in reality TV shows where drama is created, and that was what a lot of the proposals we got were about,” stated the Army movie and television liaison, Lt. Col. Steven Cole. The Army has already reviewed every episode. What is seen will be accurate and contains no threat to operational security.
The OWN network was the perfect choice for the Army, having the reputation for taking a positive and caring approach in their programming. Drachkovitch and Oprah spoke and had a shared goal. The families who opened their lives to the public were not to be exploited. Filming captured the deployment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, life at home for their families and the R&R (rest and recuperation/relaxation) visits.
Stephanie said, “Throughout production, we were asking the women, ‘Are you comfortable showing that? Sharing that’?” The wives let them capture therapy sessions, long-distance prayer moments, the average daily and social moments and even a few memorial services. This takes guts. When the specter of losing a loved one clings to you every second of every minute of every day, showing this can make you feel very vulnerable.
Lt. Col Cole sums up the reason why this is the time and the person to bring this unprecedented show to the viewing public. “This story doesn’t get told a lot on TV. If I walk down Wilshire Boulevard in my uniform, someone’s going to say, ‘Thank you for your service’. But the Army spouses, they are serving as well.”
Will America connect with a life and lifestyle they may know nothing about?
Are fellow military spouses going to see themselves in this show?
Should the dark moments of military life be on display?
In talking with Stephanie, I’m sure those questions were pondered, but you can’t please the world. This show is meant to educate, share and honor.
“Marred To The Army: Alaska” starts November 18th 2012 from 10-11 p.m. ET/PT and on November 19th, the regular time slot. Armed Forces TV and Radio will carry it for military and military family viewers around the world.
Recaps and sneak peeks at TVFishbowl.com