The end of January marks the premiere of one of the most anticipated TV shows of the year, Masters of the Air. The Apple TV+ war series follows the 100th Bomb Group, a group of courageous pilots in the Air Force who came to be known as the “Bloody Hundredth” during World War II. The series features an ensemble cast of rising stars, including Austin Butler, Callum Turner, and Barry Keoghan.
If it connects with critics and fans, Masters of the Air could become one of the next great television shows. If you’re looking for more war shows, the three series listed below should be next on your must-watch lists. Two shows are companion pieces to Masters of the Air, while the third is based on a famous satirical novel from the 1960s.
The gold standard for war TV shows is Band of Brothers, HBO’s 2001 miniseries about the 101st Airborne Division’s Easy Company during World War II. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg co-created Band of Brothers three years after collaborating on one of the greatest war films of all time, Saving Private Ryan.
The series begins in 1942 with Easy Company training at Camp Toccoa. From there, Band of Brothers follows Easy Company’s journey through Europe, from parachuting in on D-Day and invading Germany to battling the Nazis and helping to win the war. Like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers is a visceral look at WWII through the eyes of brave and heroic American soldiers. Boosted by a memorable ensemble cast and stunning cinematography, Band of Brothers is in the running for the greatest miniseries of the 21st century.
While Band of Brothers focused on Easy Company in Europe, The Pacific turned its attention to the actions of the U.S. Marine Corps against Japan during World War II. Serving as a companion piece to Band of Brothers, The Pacific revolves around three Marines — Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale), Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello), and John Basilone (Jon Seda) — who fought for the 1st Marine Division.
Like previous depictions of war in Hanks-Spielberg projects, The Pacific is visually stunning in outlining the terrifying aspects of combat. Seminal moments from World War II are covered, including the Guadalcanal Campaign, the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the soldiers’ return to America after V-J Day.
Catch-22, Joseph Heller’s 1961 satirical war novel, was adapted into a television series for Hulu in 2019. John Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a bombardier in the U.S. Air Force, wants nothing to do with WWII. John chose to be a bombardier, thinking the war would end before his training finished. The plan backfired as John must now bomb the enemy from his B-52, even if he spends more time planning ways to never fly.
Unwilling to kill, but unable to refuse his missions, Yossarian is stuck because of a Catch-22 – too many missions will make a person insane, but a request to be removed from the mission can only come from a sane person. Catch-22 still captures the bloodiness and violence of war, but its satirical nature and dark humor provide a unique interpretation of WWII.
Steam Catch-22 on Hulu.