I’m sure no one is sitting at home watching TV today, but in case you get all your energy out at cookouts or fighting the sales crowds, here’s my suggestion for evening unwind viewing.
Tonight is the finale of the reality competition mini-series, Stars Earn Stripes. Even if you haven’t watched, I highly encourage you to tune in tonight.
I know, I know, I was skeptical when I first heard about it, too. I hadn’t really decided whether or not to check it out…until a day or two before it aired, and a coalition of Nobel Peace Prize winners issued a statement condemning the show. Which pretty much solidified my resolve to follow every minute. The American military has done more for world peace than any award winner. I know where my loyalties lie.
And I am so glad I did. It’s pretty cheesy, I’m not going to lie. But overall, I’m very impressed with the overall package. Basically, the concept is that each celebrity (Star) is competing to earn money for a military or first responder charity, like Wounded Warriors or Operation Homefront. They are paired with a military/first responder Operative, and together they go through brief but intense live-fire missions that are physically taxing and psychologically intense. The poorest performing Star gets eliminated, and each Star who survives earns a “stripe” – another $10,000 for their charity.
A reality show where the winners are military charities. That’s what the Nobel Peace Prize recipients were objecting to. Wounded Warrior Foundation. Just to clarify.
It’s hosted by General Wesley Clark (Ret) and a pretty girl, because we have to have one of those. Many of the “stars” were familiar faces, like Dean Cain and Laila Ali. Some of them were surprises (Nick Lachey is a whiney-butt) and some were exactly what I expected (Todd Palin is a hoss).
Of course, the real celebrities are unquestionably the Operatives who assist and train the Stars. The first episode was really cool. It was obvious from the first moment that the ones who were “star-struck” weren’t soldiers and marines. As each Star was matched with an Operative, they walked over wide-eyed and visibly humbled to be in the presence of real-life heroes. I thought Dean Cain was going to swoon on the spot when he was matched with “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle. But they were all that way. And every single one of the Stars has said repeatedly how much the experience has done nothing but increased their appreciation and respect for our servicemembers.
The Operatives, L-R: Tom Stroup, SWAT Commander; Andrew McLaren, former Marine; Brent Gleeson, former Navy SEAL; Grady Powell, former Green Beret; Talon Smith, Air Force and Navy veteran; Dale Comstock, retired Delta Force; Chris Kyle, “The Devil of Ramadi,” former Navy SEAL; and J. W. Cortes, Marine veteran and current NYPD.
Tonight is the series finale, when we find out which Star is going to earn the big cash prize for their charity. (I believe it’s like $50,000 but I can’t remember and it’s not on the website.) However, every charity is getting a cash prize of at least $10,000 so everyone is a winner in that sense.
I love this show because, beyond the cheese and the showmanship, there is nothing but 100% love shown towards our military and first responders. This show isn’t about the Stars, and the Stars make it that way. They could totally sit during all the between-action interviews and talk about themselves (and they do that, too) but mostly it’s about the Operatives and servicemembers in general and how the Stars have grown in their respect for them.
I think that deserves the Neilsen ratings, personally, and I highly encourage you to watch the finale tonight. It’s on NBC at 8/7c.