Des­per­ate mea­sures

Star Kim De­laney says Army Wives shows an un­seen side of mil­i­tary life, writes Erin McWhirter

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

IT’S easy to dis­miss Army Wives as a Des­per­ate Housewives ripoff. In a mir­ror im­age of life on Wis­te­ria Lane, Army Wives fea­tures five fe­male leads.

‘‘I don’t mind that (be­ing com­pared to Housewives),’’ Army Wives star Kim De­laney con­fesses.

‘‘ Des­per­ate Housewives is very suc­cess­ful and it’s a good show. Some­times I think it’s (com­par­i­son) be­cause we are wives and they put that in the same cat­e­gory. I know our show is very raw and things hap­pen on a very real level.’’

For De­laney, whose body of TV work in­cludes The O.C., CSI: Mi­ami, NYPD Blue and Law and Or­der: Spe­cial Vic­tims Unit, it’s the raw­ness and mys­tery be­hind the women in Army Wives that at­tracted her to the role of Clau­dia Joy Holden.

She be­lieves it’s those same qual­i­ties that lure mil­lions of view­ers to the show each week in the US.

‘‘We all have se­crets and so does Clau­dia Joy,’’ De­laney, 50, says.

‘‘I liked the char­ac­ter and her re­la­tion­ship with her hus­band. There is a great love story there. Then you have her play­ing a mum and be­ing best friends with Denise (played by Cather­ine Bell).

‘‘There are sides to Clau­dia Joy to ex­plore. The show is very real and she is the moral cen­tre of the show. She is hu­man and she has flaws. Things like that are fun to play.’’

De­laney says the show is suc­cess­ful in show­ing the strain army wives en­dure. De­laney’s re­search proved how dif­fi­cult th­ese women find it to be left alone, iso­lated, when their husbands are sent away for com­bat.

‘‘There are so many in­cred­i­ble and heart­felt sto­ries th­ese women tell,’’ De­laney says.

‘‘I have such re­spect for them and ad­mire them, that they can live in this un­known world from day-to­day. When I say that (to them), they just kind of look at me and they say, ‘Kim, that first time when they (husbands) get off the plane (re­turn home from a mis­sion), there is noth­ing like it in the world’. Their eyes just sparkle. It’s so sweet.’’

In Army Wives, we see how Roxy (Sally Press­man) must deal with the pain of her hus­band of 17 days head­ing off to Iraq. In­stead of plan­ning a hon­ey­moon, she’s wor­ry­ing about him com­ing into con­tact with ex­plo­sives.

Mean­while, Pamela (Brigid Bran­nagh), af­ter giv­ing birth to sur­ro­gate twins on a pool ta­ble, be­comes dis­tressed when her hus­band is more con­cerned about his ca­reer sta­tus than her health.

There’s Denise Sher­wood (Bell). When her hus­band’s away their son phys­i­cally abuses her. She learns a Black Hawk he­li­copter car­ry­ing her hus­band, Maj Frank Sher­wood, has been shot down in Iraq.

Army Wives, shot at a fic­tional post called Fort Mar­shall, is based on the book Army Wives: The Un­writ­ten Code of Mil­i­tary Mar­riage by Tanya Biank.

On av­er­age, 3.6 mil­lion US view­ers tune into Army Wives, mak­ing it the high­est-rated se­ries in ca­ble net­work Life­time’s 23-year his­tory.

While the US Army re­fused to be as­so­ci­ated with the first sea­son of the show, it changed its tune for sea­son two and of­fered pro­duc­ers in­for­ma­tion to help cre­ate sto­ry­lines.

‘‘I think they saw we were in­cred­i­bly re­spect­ful to the mil­i­tary, we weren’t tak­ing a side ei­ther way. It’s not po­lit­i­cal at all. I think they wanted to help us get it as right as we could and still get en­ter­tain­ment,’’ De­laney says.

Bat­tle weary: Kim De­laney (above) stars in which fo­cuses on the women be­hind the men of war.

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