Original Release — March 18, 1970
With the horrors of the Vietnam War an ongoing event in American minds and media, it seemed a prime time to give in to despair with the greater context of world events. MASH made the wise decision of giving American audiences the exact opposite — a satire of war and those involved. Set in the Korean War, the film focuses on a handful of army doctors who are more content to cheat, steal, and slack off rather than perform their duties. It was a sense of levity to audiences during a time where an entire generation was sent into the harrowing jungles of Vietnam. The images of battle they were now used to seeing had become so depressing, that not even the war films of the late 50s and early 60s could compare to the real-life horrors that television was bringing in.
MASH gave its viewers the chance to breathe a little easier, relating to characters who were begrudgingly in their fatigues and away from home. Much like Brooklyn Nine-Nine brought laughs to the standard drama police procedural, MASH took the patriotic stoicism of war time movies and let it go AWOL. The central idea that brought so many laughs to audiences gained even greater popularity when the film was adapted into its more well-known television series of the same name that ran from 1972-1983.
Image Source: IMDb