Special Ops: Lioness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Special Ops: Lioness
Promotional poster
Created byTaylor Sheridan
ComposerAndrew Lockington
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Executive producers
  • Taylor Sheridan
  • Jill Wagner
  • David Glasser
  • David Hutkin
  • Bob Yari
  • Zoe Saldaña
  • Nicole Kidman
  • Geyer Kosinski
Running time38–57 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseJuly 23, 2023 (2023-07-23) –

Special Ops: Lioness is an American spy thriller television series created by Taylor Sheridan that premiered on July 23, 2023, on Paramount+.[1]


Force Recon Marine Cruz Manuelos, is recruited into the CIA’s Lioness program and tasked with befriending the daughter of a terrorist financer.




  • Michael Kelly as Byron Westfield, the CIA Deputy Director and Kaitlyn's supervisor
  • Martin Donovan as Errol Meade, Kaitlyn's husband, a high ranking financial investor[2]
  • Michael Tow as Dr. Hammond, Neil's colleague



A documentary titled Lioness[3] covered one of the first members of Team Lioness in Ramadi, Iraq between 2003 and 2004. Since its release in 2008, Lioness has contributed significantly to the mainstreaming of the movement to recognize and respond to the needs of American servicewomen.


No.Title [4]Directed byWritten by [5]Original release date [6]
1"Sacrificial Soldiers"John HillcoatTaylor SheridanJuly 23, 2023 (2023-07-23)
Joe orders a missile dropped on a target together with a 'lioness'when the lioness's tattoos are discovered. She is unhappy about having made that decision as she tells her boss Kaitlyn. Cruz runs away from her brother's oppression after he punches her because of a disagreement between her and his brother's friends. She falls on the door of the Marines office and is later recruited after her unusually high scores even on the men's scale.
2"The Beating"John HillcoatTaylor SheridanJuly 23, 2023 (2023-07-23)
3"Bruise Like a Fist"Anthony ByrneStory by : Taylor Sheridan and Thomas Brady
Teleplay by : Taylor Sheridan
July 30, 2023 (2023-07-30)
4"The Choice of Failure"Anthony ByrneTaylor SheridanAugust 6, 2023 (2023-08-06)
5"Truth Is the Shrewdest Lie"Paul CameronTaylor SheridanAugust 13, 2023 (2023-08-13)
6"The Lie Is the Truth"Paul CameronTaylor SheridanAugust 20, 2023 (2023-08-20)
7"Wish the Fight Away"John HillcoatTaylor SheridanAugust 27, 2023 (2023-08-27)
8"Gone Is the Illusion of Order"John HillcoatTaylor SheridanSeptember 3, 2023 (2023-09-03)


Lioness was announced in September 2020 as part of a Paramount+ programming slate unveiling.[7] In February 2022, Zoe Saldaña was cast to star in the series, and joined as an executive producer alongside Nicole Kidman.[8] Laysla De Oliveira joined the cast the following month.[9] In June, Sheridan took over as showrunner of the series from Thomas Brady following the conclusion of the show's writers' room.[10] Casting continued in September, with the additions of Dave Annable, LaMonica Garrett, James Jordan, Austin Hébert, Jonah Wharton and Hannah Love Lanier.[11][12] In January 2023, Kidman and Michael Kelly joined the cast alongside Morgan Freeman.[13][14][15]

Filming began in Mallorca in January 2023.[16] In May 2023, it was announced that the series title was changed from Lioness to Special Ops: Lioness[17] although the title card remained unchanged.

Andrew Lockington composed the soundtrack for the series, having previously worked with Taylor Sheridan in Mayor of Kingstown. Lakeshore Records has released the series' soundtrack.


The series is loosely based on the premise of "Team Lioness", where in Iraq in 2003 the decision was made to send female soldiers out with patrols, aiming to stop insurgents from using women to smuggle material because male US soldiers found it difficult to search Muslim women. These teams found themselves in direct combat situations, in violation of the Combat Exclusion Policy (changed only a decade later), which hindered the soldiers from getting veteran benefits after service.[18][19]


The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 53% approval rating and an average rating of 6.1/10, based on 32 reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Zoe Saldaña provides the energy of a Lioness, but these Special Ops are largely derivative and unconvincing."[20] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100 based on 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[21]

Reviewer Mike Hale, writing for the New York Times, wrote that the show "turned out to be a moody, suspenseful, textured genre piece with characters you cared about," and that "Sheridan found a form, the action thriller, that suits him better than the western soap operas and contemporary crime dramas that he has produced up to now." Initially, when only screening the first episode, Hale wrote the show "looks like an awful lot of other counterterrorism thrillers, with a visceral punch to its action and a ticky-tacky, backlot feel."[22][23] Also based on the first episode, Variety criticised it as "cliché" and "shameless military propaganda".[18]


Award ceremony Year Category Nominee Result Ref.
Asia Contents Awards & Global OTT Awards 2023 Best Creative Special Ops: Lioness Pending [24]
Best Writer Taylor Sheridan Pending
Best Lead Actress Zoe Saldaña Pending


  1. ^ Petski, Denise (June 8, 2023). "Taylor Sheridan's 'Special Ops: Lioness' Paramount+ Series Gets Premiere Date, First Trailer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e Otterson, Joe (16 Nov 2022). "Sam Asghari, Carla Mansour, Adam Budron, Martin Donovan Join Taylor Sheridan's CIA Series 'Lioness' at Paramount+ (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  3. ^ "Lioness :: A Room 11 Productions Film Directed by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers". Lionessthefilm.com. Retrieved 2015-07-12.
  4. ^ "Special Ops: Lioness". Paramount+ Press. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  5. ^ "Lioness". Writers Guild of America West. June 13, 2023. Retrieved July 11, 2023.
  6. ^ "Shows A-Z – Special Ops: Lioness on Paramount+". The Futon Critic. Retrieved July 11, 2023.
  7. ^ White, Peter (September 15, 2020). "The Godfather Making-Of Event Drama, Taylor Sheridan Spy Thriller, The Game Reboot & Behind The Music Revival Lead Paramount+ Original Slate". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  8. ^ White, Peter (February 15, 2022). "Billy Bob Thornton Set As Lead In Land Man, Zoe Saldaña To Star In Lioness & 1883 Gets New Season, Spinoff As Paramount+ Grows Taylor Sheridan Universe". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  9. ^ Otterson, Joe (March 18, 2022). "Laysla De Oliveira Joins Zoe Saldaña in Taylor Sheridan's Paramount Plus Espionage Series Lioness (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  10. ^ Petski, Denise (June 28, 2022). "Taylor Sheridan Taking Over As Showrunner On His Paramount+ Series Lioness". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  11. ^ Cordero, Rosy (September 6, 2022). "Lioness Adds Taylor Sheridan-Verse Stars Dave Annable, LaMonica Garrett & James Jordan". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  12. ^ Petski, Denise (September 29, 2022). "Lioness: Taylor Sheridan's CIA Drama Series Adds 3 To Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (January 5, 2023). "Nicole Kidman Cast In Taylor Sheridan's CIA Drama Series Lioness At Paramount+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 13, 2023). "Lioness: Morgan Freeman Joins Taylor Sheridan's Series For Paramount+". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  15. ^ Strause, Jackie (2023-01-26). "Michael Kelly Joins Cast of Taylor Sheridan's Lioness (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2023-01-27.
  16. ^ Piovesan, Anrhony (January 11, 2023). "Kidman and Other Hollywood Stars in Mallorca as Filming Starts for Paramount+ Series Lioness". The Olive Press. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  17. ^ Petski, Denise (May 5, 2023). "'Special Ops: Lioness': First Look At Nicole Kidman, Zoe Saldaña, Laysla De Oliveira & More In Taylor Sheridan's CIA Drama Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  18. ^ a b Herman, Alison (2023-07-21). "Taylor Sheridan's 'Special Ops: Lioness,' Starring Nicole Kidman and Zoe Saldana, Is Shameless Military Propaganda: TV Review". Variety. Retrieved 2023-08-04.
  19. ^ "The Uproar of Team Lioness: How Taylor Sheridan's Show Got it Wrong". veteranlife.com. 17 August 2023.
  20. ^ "Special Ops: Lioness: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  21. ^ "Special Ops: Lioness: Season 1". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  22. ^ Hale, Mike (2023-07-21). "'Special Ops: Lioness' Review: Zoe Saldaña Does Strong and Silent". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  23. ^ Hale, Mike (2023-09-11). "'Special Ops: Lioness' Reconsidered". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  24. ^ Park, Jae-hwan (September 12, 2023). "아시아콘텐츠어워즈&글로벌OTT어워즈 후보작 발표.. "더 글로리, 무빙, 만장적계절, 그리고 퍼스트러브하츠코이" [Asian Content Awards & Global OTT Awards Nominees Announced... "The Glory, Moving, All Seasons, and First Love Hatsukoi"] (in Korean). KBS. Retrieved September 12, 2023 – via Naver.

External links[edit]