Last week we brought you the first part of our interview with Kyle Jarrow, EP for The CW’s Valor military drama. We learned how Jarrow approached creating an authentic and respectful modern-day military show that addresses topical subjects like women in combat, PTSD, and matters of integrity (one of the seven core Army values).
As a veteran, it’s often hard for me to watch military dramas (both TV and film), due to major lapses in key details, such as chain of command, rules of engagement, or even simply the wear and appearance of the uniforms — this is all stuff that matters greatly to veterans, and probably consistent with how cops, firemen, nurses, lawyers, et al., feel about the depictions of their vocations. Jarrow built a team that included several veterans and subject-matter experts (SME), to ensure they got it right — from my point-of-view, as a veteran, it shows!
Related – Valor EP Kyle Jarrow On The Challenges Of Creating An Authentic Military Drama On Television
In this second part of our interview with Kyle Jarrow, we learn more about Valor‘s commitment to accuracy, and also how the show landed on The CW:
Do you see Valor taking a particular position with regard to current world events or even domestic politics, both of which obviously impact our military on a daily basis:
Jarrow: It felt right and honest to talk about the things that are going on in the world in an authentic way. That said, it’s probably clear from the pilot that the show is not trying to be political and we certainly do not in the course of this season talk about who is president of the United States, what the administration is, that does not figure into it. We’re concentrating on this unit, on this mission, and even those things end up having big stakes.
How realistic will you be with depictions of real-world adversaries, hotspots, and conflict zones or just the state of our country today?
Jarrow: It feels important to be honest about the state of war now. Where are the places we’re engaged in, conflicts, what are the groups that we’re engaged with militarily. However, we have tried to steer clear of the more political contemporariness, just because, well, for a lot of reasons. We live in a very divided country and we certainly want to make a show that can be showed to everybody.
Valor was picked-up by The CW, a network known for comicbook and young adult content. How you connect with them?
Jarrow: I have worked with them a little bit in the past and have developed some other shows with them, so I have a good relationship with them. And they’ve been really interested in creating a military drama. It’s something that really interested them… The president of the network, Mark Pedowitz, was one of the folks [supporting us] and he’s very proud of the show. I believe he grew up in a military community… I know the military has been a big part of his life and so he’s been very interested in doing a show along these lines.
Did you approach The CW or did they reach out to you?
Jarrow: When they were thinking about doing it, I was one of the people whom they spoke to about it. My brother was in the service. It’s been something that I’ve been interested in exploring and writing about. So, that’s sort of how it came about. I agree it’s not obviously on brand with them, but I think one of the things that CW is really trying to do, which I applaud them for, is expand what that brand means.
How do you see Valor fitting into The CW’s lineup?
Jarrow: A lot of their programming is about heroes. Yeah, a lot of them are superheroes with powers, but this is about a superhero too, just a more grounded one. We’re on right after Supergirl and, we sort of talked about, well Supergirl is about a hero who flies. This is also about a hero who flies, just in a different kind of way. So I think there’s this certain connection there.
Do you think that Valor will appeal to The CW’s core audience?
Jarrow: The CW’s audience is younger. Twenties, early thirties, are the core demographic of a lot of their shows. That’s the core demographic of the military, right? That’s the age bracket of a lot of people who are serving. Obviously, a lot of people retire in their early forties or before. I think there also is that connection that we’re able to do stories with characters who are, are close to, the age they would probably be. That happens to be close to the core demographic age of the CW. So I think there’s a connection there as well.
How would you describe your working relationship with The CW?
Jarrow: They’re a wonderful network to work at, because I think they recognized when they decided to make this show that it is a little bit off brand for them, and so they said to themselves, you know what, we’re going to take a swing. We’re going to do the show we know and we’re not going to try to mold it into something that it doesn’t want to be, and they’ve been so incredibly supportive of the vision and that’s just a wonderful privilege. It makes it a wonderful place to get to work.
How do you strike a work-life balance with Valor’s main characters, who are a blend of servicemembers, politicians, and military family members?
Jarrow: I would say probably most of the episodes are about 50-50 in terms of being in their personal lives verses missions or professional lives. Sometimes there’s bleeding between the two. As in any career, some personal life struggles in one end up having ramifications in the other. I’d say it’s about 50-50. Some episodes are a little heavier on the mission. Yeah, I’d say about 50-50.
Part of the core narrative in Valor’s pilot episode dealt with POWs and the degree to which they resist their captors and attempt to escape (a regulation and mandate for every active servicemember)?
Jarrow: It is very important. We do continue to see the POW’s point of view and we do spend a lot of time exploring how they resist and how that is an important part of what they are taught to do… I was actually surprised, I have to say, when I started doing research on POWs. I think a lot of people assume when you’re in a situation like that, and frankly resistance could result in death. I think a lot of civilians would just assume, you know what, you’re not going to resist. You’re just going to wait it out. It actually surprised me to learn that is not what soldiers are taught. I think there is a lot that is heroic in that, so it just felt like an important reality to depict, that resistance is one of the duties that a soldier has in a situation like that.
Thank you so much for your time. Anything else you’d like us to know about Valor before we close?
Jarrow: I did want to say that being a POW is clearly an incredibly hard situation and also a very brave one to live through and we all felt that was an important story to depict. I think part of the problem is that one of the only POWs in recent memory is Bowe Bergdahl, who, obviously, we do name check in the episode and who’s obviously a more complicated situation. I believe he was charged with desertion. He plead guilty to desertion like last week I think. Anyway, obviously a much more complicated story than these guys, who were captured in the line of duty. So, I thought it was really important to remind the public and to really tell the truth that being a POW, there’s a lot of bravery that goes into surviving a situation like that. I think it’s really important to show that and to honor that. So, that’s kind of what we wanted to do there.
Much appreciated, great conversation, can’t wait to see what happens next!
Jarrow: Thank you. Thank you so much. No, it’s just been a pleasure talking to you and thank you again for your service and for taking the time.
Have you seen Valor yet or are you planning to watch? Let us know in the comments down below!
Valor airs Monday nights at 9/8c on The CW.