The Talking Series is a weekly segment that delves deeper into topics discussed by guests on the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast.
Far too many military-esque movies and TV shows misrepresent veterans, have unrealistic storylines, and get every detail wrong. That’s why SEAL Team has worked tirelessly over six seasons to get it right. The show, which ran on CBS for four seasons before moving to Paramount +, just celebrated the premiere of its sixth season. While David Boreanaz, who plays Master Chief Jason Hayes on the popular series, is thankful to CBS, he believes moving to the streaming service was the right move.
“Paramount + has given us the opportunity to [bring even more realism],” he says. “This show was not meant to [have] the poppy and glossy look of a [network] show,” says Boreanaz. On a recent episode of the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast, we spoke with Boreanaz about what it’s like filming the series, his experiences working with U.S. Navy SEALs, and more. This article examines how Boreanaz and the entire cast of SEAL Team have worked hard to bring viewers realistic stories and how those stories have impacted veterans.
Putting it all on the line
While filming, the cast and crew of SEAL Team rely on the guidance of actual SEALs to ensure they remain as accurate as possible. Although safety remains the top priority, actors on the show push themselves to the edge, both physically and mentally. Talking about this all-or-nothing mindset, Boreanaz says, “We [take] pride in putting ourselves in the elements and shooting it for real. [That means] we’re getting into a Black Hawk and going up—we’re not doing it on a green screen.” The show aims to capture an emotional rawness that transports the viewer from the safety of their living room to a high-stakes mission somewhere in the world.
Striving for balance
This series is unique because it strives to give viewers a well-rounded look inside a community few ever get to see. The entertainment industry often depicts Special Operators as one-dimensional characters who live to fight, but life as a Navy SEAL is not all firefights and explosions. An overarching theme of the show explores the hardship of balancing an all-consuming job and the responsibilities of being a husband and father. Even after six seasons, Boreanaz struggles to understand how SEALs cope with deploying around the globe at a moment’s notice. “Talk about compartmentalizing…to deal with putting your family aside, taking your [kids] out somewhere knowing that you’re going to be called away to do something. [But] that’s the job,” he says. The actors in this series do an incredible job internalizing that struggle, making their characters much more believable. “We pride ourselves in studying these characters and giving the audience an inside look from their perspective,” says Boreanaz.
Making a difference
The topics covered by SEAL Team often mirror real life, including an episode touching on veteran suicide. In 2021, a Brown University study found that 30,177 veterans have committed suicide since September 11, 2001; that’s four times more deaths than the 7,057 service members killed during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. As difficult as it is to discuss, shows like SEAL Team shine a light on this issue and let those in crisis know there’s help available. After addressing this subject in the second season, cast members began seeing the real-world implications of their work.
“When a veteran comes up to you and says, ‘Thanks for saving my life…I called the veteran’s hotline,’ you have to reflect on that moment and [think] this is why we do this type of show,” says Boreanaz. “If my character can make even the slightest impact on a guy who’s struggling, whether it’s with depression or trauma…and [he gets] help because he saw the show…then we’re doing our job,” he adds.
The show’s realism is responsible for fostering the incredible connection veterans feel with these characters. Along with making this level of realism possible, working with Navy SEALs for six seasons has caused Boreanaz and other cast members to develop an even greater appreciation for the sacrifices they make. “You get to understand what these men and women go through and the courage they have,” he says. “We all have fear, whether you’re a doctor [or] Tom Brady…but you must have the courage to go through that fear,” he adds.
While SEAL Team set out to tell the stories of Navy SEALs, they also introduced a whole new generation of Americans to the possibility of service. Whether the series recognizes it or not, they’re an incredible recruiting tool that’s helped countless young people find their path to success. As for this season of the show, Boreanaz says he’s excited for fans to take this journey with him as season six unfolds every Sunday on Paramount +. “At the very end of season six, you’re going to have a moment…when you understand this journey, [but first] you must go through the darkness of it, and the pain, emotional turmoil, and vulnerability [felt by] every one of these characters to earn what happens at the end. It’s huge,” promises Boreanaz.
Check out our entire conversation with David Boreanaz on the Men’s Journal Everyday Warrior Podcast and watch new episodes of SEAL Team each Sunday on Paramount +. Can’t wait until Sunday? Get caught up by watching Seasons 1–5 anytime, only on Paramount+.
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