Baghdad ER debuts on HBO Sunday

This Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, HBO debuts Baghdad ER. Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill’s documentary follows the “medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army’s premier medical facility in Iraq,” according to HBO. According to CNN, it also “will premiere Monday at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington as well as on 22 Army posts.”

The network admits in its description that the film is “[s]ometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds.” While “officials said they fully support the film and note the Army gave the filmmakers access to the hospital,” according to CNN, the Army is warning viewers, particularly soldiers, about its graphic content. In a memo CNN obtained, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley wrote,

“Those who view this documentary may experience many emotions. If they have been stationed in Iraq, they may re-experience some symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as flashbacks or nightmares. … This film will have a strong impact on viewers and may cause anxiety for some soldiers and family members.”

Reviews are overwhelmingly positive. The Chicago Tribune’s Allison Benedikt says “nothing on television could be more important,” while Variety’s Brian Lowry says it’s “[a]s powerful as anything apt to be shown on television this or any other year.” And the LA Times’ Tony Perry says the film “has no political point of view. There is no flag-waving but neither is there Bush-bashing.”

Baghdad ER [HBO]
Army: HBO documentary could trigger stress disorder [CNN]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.