One of the first TV trends to emerge out of the early months of the Donald Trump administration has been the rise of military series.
This fall, broadcast networks will unveil three such offerings, with CBS’ SEAL Team being one of them. But despite the supposed cause for the recent rise of patriotic programming, the producers behind the forthcoming hourlong series insist there’s nothing overtly political.
“Their sense of duty and honor transcends partisan politics,” executive producer Sarah Timberman told reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.
Added exec producer and series creator Benjamin Cavell: “They do that work no matter who’s in the White House and whether they voted for them or not.”
SEAL Team, set to premiere Wednesday, Sept. 27, at 9 p.m ET/PT, follows the professional and personal lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs as they train for, plan and execute the most dangerous, high-stakes missions our country can ask of them.
While several military shows were already in the mix before Trump’s surprising presidential victory (see: USA Network’s Shooter and History’s Six), several were put into development on the broadcast networks after he was sworn in as the Big Four networks attempted to reach the middle of the country that may have otherwise been ignored previously.
“When we were developing this, it was anyone’s guess where we were going to be politically,” Timberman said. “I don’t think the show is about this current moment in politics.”
If anything, she pointed to real-life armed service members whom she met while working on SEAL Team who hadn’t supported the war in Iraq, but helped fight it in various ways nonetheless. “People who put their lives on the line and fulfill the duty when they may not even agree with a goal — there’s an opportunity to look at all that,” Timberman said. “We’re going to reflect the geo-political reality of the world we live in.”
Regarding the creative team behind SEAL Team, “We come from different parts of the political spectrum, but what we are united in is our deep regard for the people we’ve met from the seal community,” she continued. “I think we’ve learned a lot from them.”
The drama boasts several technical advisors who formerly served in Tier 1, just like the main characters on the show. In addition to keeping the details authentic and true, the advisors told the producers just how much (or in this case, how little) of a role politics should play in the series at large.
“Their main concern was [that] we be doing the thing that we feel such responsibility to do, which is tell their stories honestly and to not make it about politics, but to make it about the lives of these guys,” Cavell said. “What it’s like to try hold to a family together and try maintain a personal life.”
When asked about the other military shows premiering this fall, exec producer Ed Redlich said it was these advisors and their experiences that “sets us apart” from the other series.
“The origin, the DNA in the show, comes from the lives of the people who did it, and our focus has just been on telling their story our way,” he said, noting the show will avoid the case-of-the-week, or in this case mission-of-the-week, format. “I don’t think anyone here wanted to be on that show, and we have instead, with the complete support of CBS, have developed a show where the character stories are a huge part of this show … that helps us tell the stories we want to tell.”
That focus on characters, and their struggles away and at home, will also help make SEAL Team stand out. “I don’t think our show is about the military,” Cavell said. “I think it’s about the people who do the work, rather than about the work itself.”
Added exec producer and director Christopher Chulack, “It’s not politic. It’s human study. That’s what we’re trying to do with a big backdrop.”