Our Girl: A necessary yet flawed drama about our troops in Afghanistan

IT HAS been 13 years since British troops entered Afghanistan, and it was only late October when our forces tactically withdrew from Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, our main base of operations. There have been plenty of TV productions and films over the years about the general ‘War on Terror’. Ross Kemp in Afghanistan and Restrepo come to mind, though both are documentaries and not dramas in the same vein as the BBC’s Our Girl, a continuation of a one-off special that aired in March 2013.

Our girlThe pilot special of Our Girl followed Molly Dawes (Lacey Turner), an 18 year old from the East End of London with very little hope for the future joining the Army and passing her training to become a medic. The series continues from this by following Molly being attached to a squad and sent to Afghanistan. Also in her Squad is a former one night stand ‘Smurf’ (Iwan Rheon) and is led by Captain James (Ben Aldridge).

What makes Our Girl a great show is what it is able to do with so little. The plot mainly centres only around 4 places in Afghanistan and maybe only a few UK locations. This allows it to focus on a few characters and not get too engaged in a convoluted plot with no end in sight. What they are able to show with this – such as civilian suicide bombs, so called ‘green on green’, and being in a firefight – really hits home what situations have to be lived with on a day-to-day basis.

However this limited scale also clearly has a negative effect as it helps to create perhaps one of the most awkward parts of the series – the love triangle between Molly, ‘Smurf’ and Captain James. This feels very much out of place with the rest of the tone of the series of the war, and whilst a romance may have a place back in the UK, in Afghanistan it just provides filler and has no outright influence on the end of the season in my eyes.

It is saddening that Our Girl has come out only at the end of our involvement in Afghanistan. Whilst the war has been very much in the public eye and issues in and of the war have been raised by news coverage, the portrayal of it in this drama makes it a more graphic representation and really highlights the issues and situations our troops faced overseas and brought back with them, as well as questioning what good our presence there was.