Finally, Real Army Wives


I’ve watched one episode of the drama series Army Wives. No wait, I take that back. I’ve watched half an episode of Army Wives. That was about all I needed to realize how unrealistic the show is.

After that, I resigned myself to the fact that there would probably never be a television show about military spouses that was truly representative of our community, that would accurately portray the intricacies of our lives.

And then I met Rynn Randall.

Rynn Randall is one of seven Army wives chosen to participate in the new docu-series Married to the Army: Alaska,  which premieres on the Oprah Winfrey Network this month. Cameras follow these military spouses stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, capturing the raw emotions that surround deployments, raising kids alone, coping with depression, homecomings, and the news of a KIA all while living far away from family in a remote location.

Here’s a sneak peak:

I had the chance to sit down and chat with Rynn at the AUSA conference in Washington DC after she spoke about her experiences on the show, particularly her decision to publicly share her struggles with depression and her ultimate choice to seek help.

“I’ve spent too much time pretending to be okay,” Rynn told me. “It was time for me to face the truth and seek help. I needed it, and I’m better off because I did that.”

Although she had her doubts about being a part of the show, she told herself that her candor might be able to help others who are struggling with the same issues. “I think that maybe there are other women going through similar situations,” she said. “So if I can help anyone feel okay, like they’re normal, they’re not strange, then it would be worth it.”

Rynn hopes that military spouses walk away from the show with the feeling that they’re not alone. But she also believes the series has a message for civilian wives as well.

“I have teenagers, and I’m trying to figure out how to raise them and how to discipline them,” she said. “I also have to face the fact that I’m getting older, and for women, that’s hard to accept because you don’t want your kids to grow up, and you don’t want time to pass. These are universal issues we go through as women.”

Rynn’s journey is just one of seven we’ll get to follow on Married to the Army: Alaska. And if the sneak peak is any indication of what the entire series will be like, I’m sure we’ll be able to relate to these women a heck of a lot more than those Hollywood actresses on Army Wives.

These are real military wives with real issues that most of us have been through at one point or another in our tenure as military spouses. I once thought there would never be a television show about military spouses that was truly representative of our community, that would accurately portray the intricacies of our lives.

I think I might be wrong.

The 8-episode series premieres on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Sunday, November 18 from 10-11 PM. Then it will move to its regular time slot from 10-11 PM on Mondays starting November 19.

Will you be watching? Would you have participated in a docu-series like this?

About the Author

Heather Sweeney
Heather Sweeney is an Associate Editor at, former Navy wife, mother of two, blogger, and avid runner. She’s the blogger formerly known as Wife on the Roller Coaster and still checks in every now and then at her blog Riding the Roller Coaster.
  • McKenzie

    if you have comcast and access to on demand, you can watch the first episode. i watched it. i’ll be honest, there’s a lot of focus on the officer’s wife vs. enlisted wife angle. i know the last time my husband was deployed, the CSM’s wife didn’t invite me over for tea. and i doubt it will be that way this time either. also, when they are at an FRG meeting and have the command skype in, it’s awkward. very awkward. there were a bunch of little things that irked me because it shows this division between people that is unsettling. last time i checked, my husband earned his rank, not me. i support him no matter what, but i think the “i used to be like her” attitude is a little ridiculous. they do a good job of explaining certain acronyms that i forget most people aren’t aware exist. and for someone who is trying to get a good place to start, it’s a lot better than the alternatives. i’ll keep watching, but i’m leery.

  • Randy

    Once again the military husband is ignored. Someone’s upset because, they didn’t get invited for tea. My wife just retired after 25 years in the service. Not once in that time was I invited to functions, never contacted during deployments.

    When there were pay or housing problems the ombudsman would say ” it would be inappropriate to meet you while my husband’s deployed “. So you have to solve your own problems.

    Try being a military husband when there is no support network for you.

    • Have you seen Macho Spouse Randy? They are trying to change that – it’s a great organization.

      • McKenzie

        nope, not upset that i wasn’t invited for tea. my point is that it doesn’t happen. and yes, i agree with you. there should be focus on husbands of women that are active duty. there’s a newlywed couple that we are friends with. he’s prior service, she’s about to go on a business trip of her own. he doesn’t get any info what so ever except what i send him. i think the show is just another way to promote the stereotypes that everyone in the military makes fun of. this show is the focus of the article and i think it will be stirring up some much needed debate in many communities.

  • pfcpremosgirl

    At least the drama, “Army Wives,” has a military husband. Look, I understand the issue…but you need to understand that “Army Wives” on Lifetime never claimed to be “reality,” just the opposite… clearly states the show is a drama. And fiction. And I love it. Plus, it’s filmed here in South Carolina. I’m now an Army veteran’s wife, as my active duty husband was honorably discharged in March of 2011, after 6 years on active duty and three + of those years spent on three separate Iraq deployments. I don’t want to watch a REAL Army Wives show….I lived the real Army wife life. That’s more than enough reality to me. There is just enough bittersweet in the Lifetime show to understand the inspiration..the goodbyes, those were the hardest. We moved 10 times in his 6 years, we were at Fort Sill, OK the longest. It broke my heart to watch my best friend leave. And now I feel sort of….out of place. What am I? Yes, I’m a PROUD veteran’s wife….but my identity will always be that of ARMY WIFE…a title I will wear PROUDLY for the rest of my life:)

  • Andyman73

    I have to wonder…what about the “Brats”, does anyone care? I spent 18 years as an Army Brat, then spent 6 years active duty Marines. Mom was an Army wife for 20 of dad’s 24 years. I don’t recall mom doing much of anything with too many of the other Army wives. She had a few good friends, and one that she has maintained contact with since the late 70’s. Mom did most everything herself, dad was deployed or on training missions for 60% or more of the time. She raised 3 sons mostly by herself. God made the biggest difference in the outcome of it all. As a “Brat” I experienced plenty of O’s wives try to use their husband’s rank as a step up over the E wives, mostly by throwing the rank in their faces. One stood out…General Clark’s wife(yes, that General Clark-Westley type one each.) She was the best grocery bagger tipper ever! She always over tipped and we highschool grocery baggers(at the commissary) would jostle for position to bag for her.


    There’s an idea for a new TV show…Army Brats. It could play on the Nickelodeon Channel or ABC Family…

    • Andyman73

      Would have to depend on what they would focus on. I recall walking to school, in Augsburg, Germany, along the back fence of the Quartermaster Kaserne, and seeing the infantry soldiers dug in, with M-16s, piles of grenades, claymore anti-personnel mines, the occasional M-60 machine gun, and so on. Not exactly Nick friendly. That was in early 1986, and was kinda scary since they were all facing you.

  • Brenda D

    No, I will not watch. One stated you are a direct reflection of your husband. If that is true why would you go on a televsion show and whine and cry about things that you can’t change and things you signed up for when you married a soldier?

  • Kristy

    Im an enlisted milpouse (24 yrs) I watched the show for about 5 minutes. Our family was stationed in Alaska and I was interested. The bully wife whose husband was preparing a Mother’s Day breakfast just turned me off. Ive met a few wives like that. They are toxic.
    Our husbands do some pretty amazing and dangerous things for work. Most of us wives know that going in. Miispouses are different in the one aspect of what our husbands do for living to support the family other than that we are no different from any other wife and mom out there. We work at our jobs, take care of our home and kids. Everyone lately just seems to be whining and poor me and wearing their military spouse status on their sleeve. Its great to feel appreciated and special but I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or my kids or feel like they owe me or my family something because of my husband’s job. Money can get tight, deployments are tough, and sometimes its hard to keep the what- if’s away. There are so many support programs now for spouses. We have so much help .We shouldn’t whine or complain or need for anything.