Special Ops: Lioness: Paramount+ Series Inspired By Real Life Lioness Squad

Paramount+’s ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ is an action thriller series created by Taylor Sheridan. The series follows Joe, the station chief of the CIA’s Lioness program, who must train Cruz, a new female undercover operative and Marine, for a mission to curb terrorism. As a result, Cruz is quickly thrust into a world of lies and deception and must do anything to protect her cover. Given the show’s military backdrop, state terrorism, and human rights politics themes, viewers must wonder if real events inspired ‘Special Ops: Lioness.’

The Inspiration Behind Special Ops: Lioness

‘Special Ops: Lioness’ is partially based on a true story. The series was created by Taylor Sheridan, credited as the lead writer for the first season. He is arguably best known for creating ‘Yellowstone,’ a neo-Western drama series, and its several spin-offs. However, Sheridan also tackled other genres through ‘Mayor of Kingstown‘ and ‘Tulsa King,’ while his screenplay for the military thriller film ‘Sicario’ received critical acclaim. ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ was formally announced in September 2020, and the initial reports stated the series would draw inspiration from actual events.

The series is loosely inspired by the real-life Task Force Lioness, a female-oriented team created by the US Marine Corps and the US Army. According to reports, the first Team Lioness batch was formed around 2003. It was deployed during the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US Army had stationed itself due to several ongoing military conflicts. The primary objective of Team Lioness was to engage with the local women who could potentially be used in terrorist attacks. It was created to alleviate the threat posed by using women to carry out terrorist operations due to the reluctance of male officers to search them.

According to a report released by the US Marine Corps, the task force was primarily involved in counterinsurgency operations. However, the team reportedly also took part in combat missions. The report states that the task force searched 90-100 women daily and retrieved items such as weapons and cash. Yet, the exact fate of the Task Force Lioness and its success in the field remains undisclosed. Nonetheless, the team is considered crucial in deploying the official Female Engagement Teams, which are meant for female officers to perform gender-suitable tasks.

‘Special Ops: Lioness’ is loosely inspired by its real-world counterpart but features primarily fictional characters. It tells a fictional story that explores the philosophical and political debates that arise from utilizing women Marine Corps soldiers in the field. The show’s primary theme appears to be the human relationship between women on opposite sides in a war.

In an interview, Paul Cameron, who directed episodes of the show, revealed that Taylor Sheridan had initially written a couple of episodes before Thomas Brady was hired as a showrunner. However, Sheridan later rewrote the scripts for all episodes. Cameron also stated that the show consulted with real ex-Special Ops operatives to maintain authenticity during production. The series crafts an element of espionage around the titular team’s mission, taking the narrative into a dense action thriller space.

Ultimately, ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ draws inspiration from the real-life Task Force Lioness, AKA Team Lioness, who greatly contributed to military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the series is not directly based on the team members’ experiences. Instead, the series explores the challenges a female squad faces when tasked with curbing terrorist activities. It also sheds light on the more human aspects of these soldiers’ lives through fictional elements. As a result, ‘Special Ops: Lioness’ is a mostly fictional story with emotionally charged drama synonymous with Sheridan’s work.

Read More: Where is Special Ops: Lioness Filmed?