New York Magazine

What Is It Good For?

George Clooney and friends adapt Catch-22 for TV.
Daniel David Stewart and Kyle Chandler.



MAY 17.

THE CULTURAL DEBT owed to Joseph Heller’s antiwar satire, Catch-22, becomes clearer when you watch Hulu’s handsomely produced miniseries. It feels familiar, even old hat, because so many subsequent works have borrowed from it. The alphabet-soup acronyms and Marx Brothers malaprops; the “Who’s on first?”–style nonsense conversations; the frat-house slapstick alternating with homosocial tenderness and fathomless horror; the baseline cynicism about whether any war, no matter how nobly justified, can ever be classified as “good.” These and other elements were integral to M*A*S*H, Apocalypse Now, and Full Metal Jacket, and they resonate in recent works like

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