Expectations could easily have been low for "Stars Earn Stripes" since it is another addition to the celebrity competition TV subgenre and has been plagued with controversy. The idea of possibly sugarcoating military training is something many veterans and military families could take offense to. Instead, the show destroyed preconceived notions and delivered a thought-provoking premiere.
The premise"Stars Earn Stripes" teams celebrities with law enforcement or special operations operatives in a competition to see which star does the best during militaristic operation training. The celebrity cast is made up of Dean Cain, Dolvett Quince, Eve Torres, Laila Ali, Nick Lachey, Terry Crews, Picabo Street, and Todd Palin. Each week, one of the stars will be eliminated as each member fights for a different military or law enforcement charity.
The controversyThe political action group Roots Action protested "Stars Earn Stripes" because they believed the show would separate the cost of human life from war and make war appear more like a game. A letter was sent to NBC by nine Nobel Peace Prize winners asking for the show to be canned. The creators of the show were also accused of passing over Jack Osborne after he disclosed that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
They got it rightThe creators of the show did well in pointing out how these games were simply a taste of what the military and law enforcement deal with on a daily basis. Instead of making the show appear to glorify war, it explained how the people who protect us have to deal with harsh extremes and have to be stronger physically and psychologically than seasoned athletes. Some of the military/law enforcement partners pointed out how these "games" were similar to the exercise missions they partake in to keep themselves fresh, and how in the real world you sometimes have to complete a mission as your friends are injured or worse around you.
Surpassing expectationsIt would be easy to believe Lachey (singer) and Palin (husband of the former governor of Alaska) would be weaker links on the show when compared to Ali (retired boxer), Torres (wrestler), Quince (personal trainer), or Crews (action star). Instead, both men excelled at their missions and were able to use their strengths to overcome their weaknesses. Palin proved he was made of stronger material than expected by completing his mission alone and surpassing the leads of the military personnel through many of the obstacles.
Even with all of the possible preconceived notions and calls for cancellation, the creators of "Stars Earn Stripes" were able to deliver a strong show. Instead of glorifying war, the show glorified the abilities (both physical and mental) of the people who risk their lives for our safety and freedoms. Not only should this show stay on the air, it should be applauded for shining a light on the men and women who do the unbelievable every day.