How 'The Village' will tackle life after the military
If you're a fan of This is Us, make sure you check out The Village, a new NBC show premiering March 19th about a group of neighbors living in a New York apartment building who form an unlikely family. One of the main characters is Nick, a combat veteran and amputee who moves in during the pilot episode.
Played by Warren Christie, Nick is instantly recognizable as a vet: he's a good wingman, he looks out for others, and he's affected by war.
I had the chance to attend a screening, courtesy of the NBC Veterans Network, Veterans in Media and Entertainment, and of course We Are The Mighty, where I spoke with Executive Producers Jessica Rhoades and Mike Daniels, as well as Christie himself and I was not disappointed.
Watch the trailer:
I've heard many veterans complain that Hollywood only portrays broken veterans, and I'm happy to report that in the pilot at least, Nick is definitely not broken. He's lost a limb, he's shaken, but he's connecting with a community — and a family — which is exactly what we want for our nation's service members.
His scene with Enzo, who introduces himself as an Army Specialist (probably from the Korean War era) reminded me of moments I've had at my local American Legion post; it's by connecting with our community that we find healing (because let's face it — at a minimum, the military is a mind f***, but at it's worst, it is traumatic).
And community is exactly what the creators of the show wanted to explore.
From left to right: Warren Christie, Jessica Rhoades, Mike Daniels, Shannon Corbeil
It was clear from talking with Rhoades, Daniels, and Christie that the whole cast and crew were committed to sharing a positive message here. Nick's transition back to civilian life won't always be easy, but this show will guide him through it with the feeling of hope.
Also, there's a dog.
Warren Christie and Magnum the German Shepherd.
(Photo courtesy of NBC)
Magnum plays 'Jedi,' Nick's military working dog, who is also an amputee. On set, the two bonded quickly, though Christie shared that Magnum was not a trained 'actor' so there were moments where Christie was covered in peanut butter and liver to get the shot.
Christie, who worked with a military advisor, did say one thing that caught my attention. He said he felt a responsibility to convey "the strength and the struggle" of our nation's service members. I loved that phrase. I'm lucky enough to work at a company that celebrates military victories and veterans' successes, but veteran suicide statistics still clearly prove that we have a long way to go in caring for our troops.
Shows like this keep the conversation going. They introduce civilians to military stories and they show veterans a way forward. That's the power of storytelling. I'm hopeful about where The Village will take Nick's story.
I've already seen a lot of comments about this moment from the trailer, and I had an immediate reaction to it, too. For all my civilian readers, I'll fill you in: to my knowledge, no one in the U.S. military salutes with their palm facing outward, something vets will easily pick up on.
Moments like these are why I encourage filmmakers telling military stories to bring veterans on board in the process as early as possible. Shows like SEAL Team on CBS have really locked this in — from the writer's room to production to on-set advising to casting vets for stunts and on-camera roles, hiring vets will ensure authenticity for TV and film.
The Village premieres on Tuesday, March 19th right after This Is Us — check it out and let us know what you think.