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Show’s writers, producers gain insights from McChord Field’s Air Force families

For the Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:36PM October 18th, 2012
Show’s writers, producers gain insights from McChord Field’s Air Force families

Kamryn Jaroszewski

Holly Allen speaks with Army Wives producers during a focus group Oct. 11 at JBLM McChord Field’s Chapel Annex.

Reality met television last week when producers and writers of the hit Lifetime television show, “Army Wives,” met with Joint Base Lewis-McChord families to discuss their experiences, Oct. 10. There were several visits scheduled, but the first stop was at McChord Field to meet Air Force family members.

The crew travels to one military installation a year for story ideas, and this visit marked its first to a joint base. Jeff Melvoin, the show’s executive producer, said season seven will see changes to the cast and storylines.

He said he wants to bring in Air Force families and that the fictional Fort Marshall will be joining with an Air Force base to form a joint base.

To offset the “officer-centric” storylines of past seasons, Melvoin said he would like to feature enlisted families, especially those with school-aged children.

To gain insight into that facet of Air Force life, the crew had dinner with some Air Force families and discussed how deployments, moving and day-to-day life affect them.

In the joint base storyline, Melvoin said he wants to focus more on the commonalities between the Army and Air Force and less on the differences.

“This show will continue to be about the sacrifices, rewards and friendships among military spouses,” he said. Melvoin, along with story editor Bill Rinier and supervising producer Karen Maser, got a good look at what life is like as an Air Force wife.

“I’m just fine,” said Corinthia Hall, the wife of Staff Sgt. Quincy Hall, in reference to how she is handling her husband’s deployment.

She said she embraces her “me time” and makes the most of the opportunities to reconnect with her friends.

“When (Quincy) is home, I’m the wife, the mother. I cook the meals and take care of the house and I love it,” she said. “But when he’s gone, I can go out with my friends more and that’s really nice.”

Melvoin said it was nice to see such a positive attitude regarding deployment and wants to focus stories on that aspect in future episodes.

Melvoin asked the group what differences they’ve experienced with joint basing.

Holly Allen, wife of Airman 1st Class Justin Allen, spoke of a combat injury her best friend’s husband, a Soldier, suffered.

“He lost his right leg. I guess as an Air Force wife, you just don’t think it’s going to happen. I never really thought about it,” Allen said. “But it’s so much more close to me now. This injury has changed their lives and mine too.”

Ashley Kropp, wife of Staff Sgt. Michael Kropp, and a fan of the show, said she could relate to specific storylines of the show, particularly with one of the characters named Denise.

“When Denise had her baby, that was me. Here I was, eight months pregnant. My husband was gone and I’m sobbing watching ‘Army Wives’ because Denise was going through the same thing,” Kropp said. “And she had her baby on webcam, which I did too. I felt that was a very realistic part of the show."

Melvoin hinted at what may come in future seasons of the show.

“Some familiar faces may not be back,” Melvoin said, remarking the actors’ contracts were up after six seasons. “A new team will emerge.”

Before leaving, Melvoin commented on how much he gained by speaking with the families.

“We come here to meet with you because every year it’s helpful to find new material,” he said. “It’s our job to tell your story.”