Taylor Sheridan’s latest series, “Special Ops: Lioness,” is set to make waves with its groundbreaking premise and strong female leads. This marks a milestone for Sheridan, as it is his first show to feature multiple women in central roles and explicitly explore gender dynamics. The show draws inspiration from a real-life CIA program, where undercover agents infiltrate the lives of high-value terrorism targets by establishing relationships with their female family members to gather valuable intelligence.
In the opening scene of “Lioness,” viewers are immediately drawn into the intense world of the show. Zoe Saldaña portrays Joe, the leader of the team, who is faced with a devastating loss and is forced to resort to a drone strike to eliminate the enemy. The series is described by some as military propaganda, presenting the United States Armed Forces as the heroic protectors of the weak, both within American society and across the entire Middle East.
Critics, however, have raised valid concerns regarding the lack of exploration into the circumstances that pit the Lioness team against the Islamic State in Iraq. The show’s messaging appears to align with a vision of U.S. hegemony, neglecting to delve deeper into the complexities of war and its consequences. Nicole Kidman also makes an appearance in “Lioness” as Joe’s supervisor, but her role is limited to a single scene, leaving audiences eager for more.
The first episode of “Special Ops: Lioness” revolves around the recruitment of Cruz, played by the talented Laysla De Oliveira. Despite lacking any background in espionage or Iraqi language and culture, Cruz proves to be a formidable combatant. The storyline seeks to equate Cruz’s physical strength with her worth, while also offering glimpses into Joe’s home life and her role as a parent.
Critiques of the show extend to its portrayal of pop feminism and the use of women’s liberation to promote the military industrial complex. Some argue that “Lioness” falls into the trap of predictable feminist narratives, rather than challenging societal norms and expectations.
Fans of the series can look forward to its premiere on Paramount+ on July 23, with subsequent episodes airing on Sundays. “Special Ops: Lioness” promises to captivate audiences with its action-packed storyline and compelling exploration of gender dynamics in the military domain. However, it remains to be seen whether the show can rise above the criticisms and deliver a nuanced portrayal of the complex realities it seeks to depict.
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