Network mammoth HBO appear to be on a role with exciting new shows, as they have officially revealed yet another mini-series Soldier Girls, which is now in development and due for release in 2017. The latest offering is being helmed by the fantastic but criminally under watched Veep’s Emmy award winning star and executive producer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The series itself is based on the lauded 2014 non-fiction book #SG: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War, penned by Helen Thorpe. Whilst Dreyfus might not be the first name you’d turn to as a producer, she is certainly a good horse to bet on, as in September of 2015 she won her fourth consecutive Best Comedy Actress award for Veep, as well as three other overall Emmys for Veep, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Seinfeld.
Whilst detailed information about the new show is being kept firmly under wraps over at HBO, we can turn to the book for an idea of what the new show is going to be about. What we do know is that the show will be closely following the format of the non-fiction novel, which focuses on three women whose lives were turned upside down when they signed up for the Indiana National Guard and then unexpectedly found themselves in combat deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the women in question is Michelle Fischer, who saw herself as a fun-loving hippie, who only signed up because she figured it would help her pay her expensive college fees and allow her to live on campus with everyone else. There is also Desma Brookes who signed up on a dare from a friend who was dating a recruiter for the National Guard, telling her “I bet you won’t make it in.” After proving her friend wrong, she was thankful for the extra paycheck that allowed her to support her three children. Seven years later she was terrified to find out that what was only supposed to be something to earn her some extra money, was turning into deployment into Iraq in the middle of a war, giving her 3 days to find somewhere for her beloved children to live. Finally there is Debbie Helton – a beautician – who wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps as an army drill sergeant, but later found herself in a deadly combat zone.
Thorpe – the writer of the novel – is a veteran reporter, and recounts the unsettling situations the unprepared women with no active war experience found themselves in when their National Guard units were deployed into the front lines of war-torn countries, ripping their lives and families apart in the process. Through the book, Thorpe uses four years worth of interviews to present three unique stories of survival, adaption and courage in the face of insurmountable odds, where domestic chores, university assignments and nine to fives were replaced with guns, bombs and deadly threat. But the light at the end of the tunnel for these three women is that the terrifying situation they found themselves in led to an unbreakable bond with each other and friendships that would last a lifetime.
The adaptation of the novel into screenplay is being helmed by UCLA Master of Fine Arts Writing graduate Nicole Riegel (who had one of her screenplays added to the lauded Black List in 2013), and one which she will complete by drawing experience from her own life as a former soldier. It will be Riegel’s first TV credit, and she will also be crowned with the title of co-producer. Reigel will be joined in her production capacity by Dreyfus herself, and the latter’s husband, producer Brad Hall. It is unclear, but seems unlikely that Helen Thorpe will be involved in the production in any capacity other than (maybe) a consultant.
Whether or not Dreyfus will star in the show or merely produce is at this point unknown, as no casting information has been released. There has also been no word as to whether the star – who is known for her comedic roles – will attempt to inject humour into the mini-series, or will play it straight, like the book. It is purely speculation at this point, but it could be that the show will mix elements of comedy and tragedy into its fold, similar to something like Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Moreover, we can’t be sure how popular the show will be, although with a powerful network like HBO backing the new venture and a celebrated star leading the charge, its likely to have more promotion than most television sets can handle.
What are your thoughts on HBO’s latest entry to their 2017 line-up? Do you think having a comedic actress in charge of such a sensitive subject matter is a good thing or a bad thing? Do you agree with the focus on three women in war, or do you think the show should be broader?
As always we want to know what you think, so feel