Band of Brothers is the last great uncool TV show

Still, it would be wrong to see Band of Brothers as a relic. These days, its unvarnished sincerity stands out as its most valuable asset. Committed to getting its facts straight with as little embellishment as possible, it could be the last great uncool television series.

Its most moving segments are the testimonies of the white-haired surviving members of Easy Company, who are still proud of and traumatised by their experiences nearly 60 years before. And its most moving scenes are those in episode nine when the soldiers discover a concentration camp near Landsberg in Germany.

For more than eight hours by this point, the series has celebrated US military heroism without ever discussing why it was needed. And then, out of the blue, the soldiers and the viewers are hit by a nightmarish vista of emaciated prisoners and corpses. It might not be the most radical or innovative way that the Holocaust has ever been put on screen, but it is one of the most powerful.

As the soldiers knew nothing about the massacre of Europe’s Jewish population, their discovery of the camp is deeply shocking to them. And to the viewer who has been with them throughout the series, without expecting the Holocaust to be a big part of it, the discovery is shocking, too.

Last December, a survey by The Economist and YouGov revealed that 20% of young Americans believed the Holocaust to be a myth, and a further 30% weren’t sure whether it happened or not. It’s clear that the information needs to be presented starkly and cogently to each new generation – and that in itself is why Band of Brothers should be valued as much as any of the more fashionable series which succeeded it. If it sometimes feels like a history lesson, it’s a history lesson that is urgently required.

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