Generation Kill, HBO’s fictional mini-series based on a non-fiction book, debuts Sunday

HBO’s miniseries Generation Kill debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, and will air for seven weeks, following a Marine battalion as they prepare to enter into Iraq back in 2003. The film is a work of fiction that stars actors, but it is based so much on fact that I think it’s worthy of a mention despite my relentless focus on unscripted TV. It’s probably more real than several reality shows currently airing.

In a press release, HBO notes that “Real events are depicted. Real names are used. As much as possible, the film employs the precise dialogue reported by Wright, a Rolling Stone correspondent assigned to First Recon Battalion during their last weeks in Kuwait. The filmmakers made every effort to recreate Wright’s account…”

They’ve even duplicated one Marine’s tattoos. Writer and executive producer David Simon (of The Wire) told TV critics in L.A. Thursday that the filmmakers screened the film Wednesday night at Camp Pendleton, and said, “I got to watch Colbert’s face when that scene came up and you saw his tattoo for the first time and Colbert saw that we actually had his tattoo. That was a great moment.”

Asked how accurate the depiction was, Marine Eric Kocher told critics, “from my perception, it pretty much parallels Evan’s — what he wrote in the story and what you see on the screen.” He also said, “…the dialogue is excellent. It hits exactly the way Marines talk and then the atmosphere is visually what you see, what you hear in the background. Everything is it. It hits Iraq.”

Evan Wright, the journalist who wrote the nonfiction book of the same name, said that “there are no composite characters,” and that “I’m not presenting my viewpoint. I’m presenting a synthesis of viewpoints of sources.”

HBO has posted a series of previews that feature interviews with the real-life people and the actors who play them intercut with scenes from the film. Here’s the one featuring Wright:

Generation Kill [HBO]

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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.