M*A*S*H lasted 11 seasons on network TV. That’s quite a long time for a show about war, death, politics, and other seemingly unpopular topics for television. Yet it garnered a huge audience and its final two part episode left such a huge viewer mark that it eclipsed all else for 27 years.
How did it do this? Snappy writing, acting, and stories that still resonated with the times. As stated in Tube of Plenty, M*A*S*H followed a workplace setting where the workers had become a large quasi-family. The show followed various relationships between characters, bonds that were formed and lasted for years.
I never really watched M*A*S*H but I knew who Hawkeye, B.J., and the rest were, thanks to popular culture. These are characters with tremendous amounts of character and pathos, and I realized how deep they went after watching the ending.
After a trail of bread crumbs finally revealed that Hawkeye snapped because he witnessed a civilian (accidentally or on purpose, not sure if I want to know) smother her infant child, that seems like a landmark event for TV. That’s dark stuff even for today, and they showed it in 1983.