Definitely JAG. Without it, I don’t know that I’d be as patriotic as I am. The media, whether it’s to get a story out first, or to make some political statement, has so many conflicting - and, of course, inaccurate - reports of the military, and JAG managed to highlight all the issues within the system while still representing the military (granted, just the Navy and Marines, but they didn’t take anything away from the Army or Air Force) in a very positive light. It made me extra proud that my granddaddy fought Japan in World War II.
It also taught me a lot about love and family, and how your friends could be your family, whether you had loving parents (Harm), loving siblings (Bud) or a shaky upbringing (Mac and Bud to an extent). You could love people that aren’t blood related to you just as much as your biological family and even refer to them as you would family members (Mac and Chloe and their mother/daughter, big/little sister relationship).
It showed me that you could overcome a notorious past (Coates) and still make your way in life and be respected and loved.
It showed the power of children - Mattie teaching Harm how to love unconditionally, and A.J. helping Bud to live.
It showed loyalty of the most enormous proportions - Mac following Harm to Chechnya and Harm quitting his job to go to South America and find Mac, wherever she was, because he believed she was in danger - and he found her not a moment too soon.
All of this helped me through the third grade, when I was in counselling for bullying. It helped me through my first year in middle school, when I had a hard time adjusting to the more stern teaching styles and the change in the ways things were graded. By the time I’d adjusted to middle school and finally learned not to let people’s taunts (I was and am quite the dork) bother me, it was 2005, I was twelve, and JAG was ending.
In retrospect, and I know it’s not the case, but it almost feels like that show wasn’t going to go anywhere until I was okay. It stuck around - some would argue a season too long - until I still loved it, but no longer needed it to be there. And then, seven years later, during my first semester at college, when I once again needed to adjust (The Big Bang Theory helped me through high school to an extent, but that wasn’t nearly as stressful to me as middle school had been), I found downloads online and was able to rediscover it.
My rediscovery, at nearly nineteen, enabled me to see things that my twelve year old brain wasn’t able to fully comprehend. The extent of Mac and Harm’s connection - they were my favorite TV couple ever since the first time I saw the series, and when I rewatched I was afraid that they hadn’t been as amazing as I’d remembered…and instead, I was blown away by how much I hadn’t picked up on the first time. The love that Harm and Mac had for Bud which I hadn’t fully appreciated the first time because I hadn’t had friends that I loved like that, like I do now. The fatherly relationship between Chegwidden and Harm, Mac, Bud, Harriet, and Coates, as well as the family relationships between Harm/Coates, Harm/Mattie, Mac/Harm/Bud, and Mac/Chloe. And so much more.
I actually have two friends making their way through the series now, one is at the start of season three, and one is at the end, and I can’t even begin to describe how much it thrills me that I get to share something that is this important to me with them. I’m not in the military, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a pilot. I don’t have a connection with someone that’s so strong I always know where they are, and I don’t excel at anything. But despite all of that, I still feel like showing them JAG is showing them a piece of myself. A very important piece.
I can say with absolute certainty I would not be the person that I am today if JAG hadn’t been a part of my life.