What is Band of Brothers about?

Cameron Frew
Band of Brothers starring Damian Lewis and Ron LivingstonHBO

Band of Brothers, the highly-praised HBO war series, has made a remarkable entrance onto Netflix’s Top 10 chart. Let’s delve into what the show is about, who comprises the cast, and whether it’s worth your viewing time.

It’s a rite of passage for younger generations to hear how easy they have it. When it comes to TV, services like Sky and cable television were once the hallmarks of luxury and expanded choice, otherwise, you’d have to make do with limited channels and whatever DVDs or videos you had in the house.

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Nowadays, gluttony is almost avoidable. The streaming boom has birthed several platforms with millions of subscribers, each producing a near-unlimited stream of content year after year, whether it’s Stranger Things, The Boys, or new Game of Thrones spinoffs.

However, this past weekend saw the collision of past and present with the arrival of a bona fide banger of early 2000s prestige TV, and everyone’s loving it. So, here’s what you need to know about Band of Brothers.

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What is Band of Brothers about?

Band of Brothers follows the heroic, traumatic efforts of “Easy” Company, a paratrooper division in the US military, in the European theatre of World War II.

Check out the trailer below:

Developed by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg in the years after Saving Private Ryan, and based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 book, the series chronicles the company’s wartime journey from grueling training in Georgia to jumping out into Normandy as the skies are filled with flames and screams. We see their exploits across a number of missions, including the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of a concentration camp.

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The characters aren’t fictional, either: episodes also begin with talking-head interviews with the real-life veterans, mostly reflecting on their fear, brief moments of respite with their friends, and how they’ve carried the experience of war with them for their whole lives.

While the series compels you to invest in the lives of these men, many of whom are killed in the blink of an eye, it’s also a showcase of the horror and complexity of war; the terror is intimate, but it paints a much wider, terrifying landscape of conflict.

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“You find that the biggest concern is that you don’t look at war as a geopolitical endeavor. You look at war as something that is putting your best friend in jeopardy. You are responsible for the person in front of you and the person behind you, and the person to the left of you and the person to the right of you,” Spielberg said in 2010.

In 2021, Hanks was asked why Band of Brothers has remained so resonant in America and across the world. ‘The key word of the title is ‘Brothers.’ I think the resonance of the series comes from the sense of ‘Us,’ that we are all in this together and the primary, instinctive duty is to look after our brothers. A unit – like Easy Company – stands alone, together,” he told Deadline.

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Band of Brothers cast: Who’s in it?

The cast of Band of Brothers, streaming on Netflix nowHBO

Band of Brothers features an absolutely extraordinary cast you may not believe at first, including:

  • Damian Lewis as Major Richard “Dick” Winters
  • Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon
  • Michael Cudlitz as Staff Sergeant Denver “Bull” Randleman
  • Scott Grimes as Technical Sergeant Donald Malarkey
  • Neal McDonough as First Lieutenant Lynn “Buck” Compton
  • David Schwimmer as Captain Herbert Sobel
  • Donnie Wahlberg as Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton
  • Marc Warren as Private Albert Blithe
  • Dexter Fletcher as Staff Sergeant John “Johnny” Martin
  • Colin Hanks as First Lieutenant Henry S. Jones
  • Ross McCall as Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Liebgott
  • Tom Hardy as Private John Janovec
  • Michael Fassbender as Technical Sergeant Burton Christenson
  • James McAvoy as Pvt. James W. Miller
  • Simon Pegg as First Sergeant William S. Evans
  • Andrew Scott as Private John “Cowboy” Hall

Admittedly, Hardy’s role is small, but it launched his career. “Band of Brothers was my first job so I was virtually out of the frying pan and into the fire, really. I’d not had previous experience with working in front of the camera, so there was dealing with that,” he told IGN in 2002.

“Also, I had the research material — not that I’d need it. I mean, I was in two episodes and had 12 lines. That was the sum total of work [I] had to do. But nonetheless, I would work just as hard trying to portray someone whose relatives are still around. Obviously, nobody wants to go out there and say, ‘This is my big moment.’ And I’m playing John Janovec, who is dead. He died for freedom.”

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You can read our full breakdown of the show’s cast and characters here.

Is Band of Brothers worth watching?

Yes. Band of Brothers isn’t just one of the best series you could watch on Netflix right now, but it’s one of the greatest TV shows ever made.

It has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes, with the vast majority of critics echoing immense praise. “Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks’s miniseries is one of the best shows ever to grace the small screen,” The Guardian wrote.

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“A profoundly intense experience that outshines any other World War II epic ever seen on television – or, for that matter, in any Hollywood feature film,” CNN also wrote in its review.

“After watching the 10-hour Band of Brothers, I’m so drained by the intensity of what I have just beheld that I’m ready to declare this World War II miniseries the finest piece of work ever produced for television,” The New York Post wrote.

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Band of Brothers is available to stream on Netflix now. You can check out our other coverage below:

About The Author

Cameron is Deputy TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He's an action movie aficionado, '80s obsessive, Oscars enthusiast, and a staunch Scot. He earned a First-Class Honours Degree in Multimedia Journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University, accredited by the NCTJ and BJTC. He began his career at UNILAD, starting as a Junior Journalist and becoming Entertainment Editor prior to joining Dexerto. You can contact him at cameron.frew@dexerto.com.