First, it was a novel. Then, that novel was adapted into a movie. And finally, M*A*S*H became one of the most popular TV shows America has ever seen, first airing on September 17th, 1972, and coming to a close eleven seasons later, in front of 125 million viewers on February 28th, 1983. In all, 251 episodes were aired — for perspective, that’s fifteen more episodes than Friends, and seventy-one more episodes than Seinfeld.
So, what was it exactly that made M*A*S*H so dang popular?
One could point to the accuracies of the storylines themselves, inspired by interviews with real MASH surgeons. One could also point to the show’s general timing, to the chords of war and peace it struck with the American public (near the end of and) following the Vietnam War. One could even point to the delicate balance struck between drama and comedy, a balance the show seemed to pioneer, and one that has been striven for by so many films and TV shows since.
For us, though, the answer to that question is simple: it’s all about the characters. Hawkeye Pierce. Margaret Houlihan. B.J. Hunnicutt. Maxwell Klinger. We could list them all, because each and every one of them have carved out personal space in our living rooms. And they’ll continue to do so, despite the conflict depicted taking place over 60 years ago now, despite its 1972 airdate. They’ll continue to do so because they’re genuine characters, in one fell swoop capable of making you laugh and cry. They’re characters that transcend time.
Which of course brings another question to mind, one that we find more important: which M*A*S*H character are you most like? If you’ve ever pondered that same question, ponder no more: we’ve put together a quiz for you to find out! Just click below to get started. Enjoy, and be sure to share your results with your friends!