Intro by John Roderick

Robert Altman's MASH takes us to the frontlines of the Vietnam War in metaphor, which is to say the Korean War. It's an unlikely place to look for comedy, but it spawned a hit film and one of the longest running dramedies in television history. It's an irreverent take on the chaos of war. The conflicts depicted aren't only geopolitical, [but] they are also interpersonal, romantic and often alcoholic.

Hijinks at the field hospital are a coping mechanism to deal with the hellish circumstances of war, but the chauvinism and retrograde sexual politics are a time capsule for how comedy and the targets of comedy have evolved over the decade. Told in a series of vignettes rather than the straight narrative story arc, MASH is an iconic film of its time and a foundational work from which myriad films have borrowed. It won countless accolades in its own time, but modern viewers may be appalled, not so much at the depictions of violent death, as at the rampant punching down. This isn't a hospital, it's an insane asylum and it's also today's Friendly Fire as we discuss the 1970 film MASH.

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