’68 Whiskey’ Creator on Decision to Shoot in Santa Clarita: It Mimics Afghanistan ‘Frighteningly Well’

TCA 2020: Roberto Benibab also explains how Paramount Network series is inspired by “M*A*S*H” and “Catch-22”

68 Whiskey
Paramount Network

Who knew that Santa Clarita and Afghanistan had so much in common?

“68 Whiskey” creator Roberto Benabib gave a surprising reason for why he films his upcoming Paramount Network war dramedy — which is set in Afghanistan — in the Southern California city. “It actually mimics the part of Afghanistan where the show is set very well. Almost scarily well — frighteningly well,” he said on Tuesday during the Television Critics Association press tour. He even joked that the producers refer to it as “Santa Clarita-stan.”

Blending intense drama with irreverent humor, “68 Whiskey” follows a multicultural band of Army medics stationed in Afghanistan on a base nicknamed “The Orphanage,” according to Paramount. Together, the medics navigate a dangerous and sometimes absurd world, relying on camaraderie, various vices, and, occasionally, a profound sense of purpose to carry them through.

Benabib said the series mixture of comedy and drama, despite it being set in a war zone, is inspired by the Vietnam-era films that he grew up with.

“I came of age in the 70s with movies that go to Vietnam. They were movies like ‘M*A*S*H*’ and ‘Catch 22,’ even ‘Apocalypse Now,’ which had kind of absurdist humor base running through it,” he said. “A lot of the tone of this show comes from that. It’s a direct descendant of that.”

“68 Whiskey” debuts Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Paramount Network.