Social media users are singing the praises of the first two episodes of Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan’s new Special Ops: Lioness – after being relentlessly roasted by critics for its stance on the war on terror.
Featuring A-listers like Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman, the show serves as Sheridan’s latest foray into the streaming field, and Hollywood has been divided — often politically — by the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strike.
It also comes on the heels of several critically acclaimed releases from the 53-year-old TV director – including the Yellowstone spinoffs ‘1923’ and ‘1883’ and the Sylvester Stallone-led mob flick Tulsa King.
Like that release, the new program — which centers on a CIA operative played by Zoe Saldana who trained female spies after 9/11 — boasts a more conservative message.
As a result, the show — now streaming on Paramount — has been met with some pushback from progressives and especially film critics. Now, days after its two-episode premiere, viewers are giving their opinions on a few episodes.
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Social media users are praising the first two episodes of Special Ops: Lioness – the CIA thriller this past week following scrutiny from critics.
Featuring A-listers like Morgan Freeman, the show centers on a CIA operative who trains female spies after the September 11 attacks.
The show serves as Taylor Sheridan’s latest foray into the streaming field, adding to a growing roster of TV shows including Yellowstone, which often boast conservative overtones.
‘Just watching Special Ops: Lioness,’ someone wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, two days after the show’s second installment aired.
‘No wonder the left is melting down over this. Duty, service, protection of freedom. These ideas are like silver bullets to vampires for sickos from the left.’
Others offered a warmer assessment, but still expressed confusion as to why the show was savagely lambasted by critics – most recently Variety labeling the characters ‘narrow archetypes’ and The Daily Beast labeling them ‘talent-wasting drakes’ and ‘patriotic drives’.
One such person tweeted on Tuesday: ‘Watched the first two episodes of Special Ops: Lioness. I still don’t know how to feel about the show.’
However, they quickly added: ‘I will say this, I haven’t seen any errors in the writing so far.’
Why? The poster says: ‘Taylor Sheridan is the creator and writer of the first two episodes, may be the reason.’
Among the mixed reception, most offered a glowing response.
‘I watched the first two episodes of Special Ops: Lioness last night at @paramountplus, and it was great,’ one person tweeted on Tuesday.
Another added, citing the first episode’s paltry 39 per cent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes: ‘Intense, gritty, sexy and very compelling. You know it’s going to be good when you see a split Rotten Tomatoes score like this. The audience knows better.’
The 39 percent rating serves as a percentage of the professional critic reviews the show has received so far and comes against a 77 percent score suggested by audience members.
One such couch surfer observed: ‘The first two episodes of Special Ops: Lioness were really good.’
Another added: ‘Paramount has some great TV. Stumbled into Special Operations: Lioness and now looking down the rabbit hole.’
Someone else said: ‘Special Ops: Lioness is a good series. Two episodes in already, and I’m loving it. I recommend.’
Another post praised the show for its suspense, writing: ‘This show is dope. I watched a network series and wanted more after one episode
Love, for the most part, continued in an Instagram post published by the show’s official account on Monday.
Many praised the show for its well-written nature – something apparently lost on critics like USA Today’s Kelly Lawler, who on Monday slammed Sheridan’s latest creation as ‘Dallas in Syria’ and ‘creatively impotent’.
One simply read: ‘Another hit series from Taylor Sheridan. Excellent.’
Another added: ‘Unbelievable show. The smart strategy is to release two and wait for our next one. I’m counting the days.’
Someone else declared: ‘Both episodes were great! The cast is already fantastic and the character development stellar. Looking forward to the rest of the season!’
Another agreed, raving: ‘This show [fire]. Anything with @zoesaldana is bomb. Can’t wait for the next episodes.’
Others, meanwhile, were noticeably less kind – although some posited that the show could be off to a slow start.
Released this past Sunday, the show also stars Nicole Kidman and Zoe Saldana – but was still criticized by Variety this week for its ‘narrow archetype’ characters and The Daily Beast for ‘talent-waste drake’ and ‘patriotic drivel’.
Love continued for the most part in an Instagram post published on the show’s official account
One detractor tweeted on Tuesday: ‘The first 2 episodes of #SpecialOpsLioness were kind of rubbish.. let’s hope the remaining 6 are better.’
That said, Episode 3 continues to be available to watch on Sunday – as industry insiders warn the ongoing double strike from actors and writers in tinsel town could mean fewer releases in the coming months.
That’s because the SAG-AFTRA strike, which was launched less than two weeks ago, carries significantly more weight than the strike leveled by the Writers Guild of America starting May 2.
With its nearly 160,000 members — many of them high-profile celebrities — the studios are now feeling the pressure to come up with a quick fix.
Both companies have many of the same goals — fighting for higher wages, increased compensation from avenues like streaming, and protection against future takeovers by artificial intelligence.
The last writer’s strike was more than 15 years ago and lasted for 100 days between 2007 and 2008.
At the time, it cost the California economy an estimated $2.1 billion — a time when, with both unions in the mix, insiders were predicting a much higher toll.
Just days ago, several studio executives who spoke anonymously to The New York Times warned that a strike lasting two more months could soon spell doom for the entertainment industry, leaving the fate of films like Deadpool 3 and Gladiator 2 up in the air.
The prediction, aired by three prominent studio heads on Tuesday, comes as a twin strike by writers and actors in tinsel town brought the industry to a virtual standstill last week.
Following the decision of the Screen Actors Guild to join forces with the Writers Guild – which has been on strike since May – many big-budget films in progress were forced to shut down immediately.
Affected productions include Deadpool 3 and Gladiator 2, as well as Venom 3, led by Tom Hardy, with Twister – an update of the 1996 film starring Daisy Edgar-Jones.
TV series like Sydney Sweeney’s Euphoria were not spared, with season three of the show pushed back to 2025.
For an industry that was already struggling due to the rise of streaming, the shutdown is particularly problematic. Industry experts say the next few weeks will be crucial.
Episode 3 is set to be available to watch on Sunday – as industry insiders warn that the ongoing double strike from actors and writers in tinsel town could mean fewer releases next month. The actors’ strike began last week, and comes alongside a protest currently being leveled by The Writers Guild of America.
The Writer’s Guild strike began in May, and gained momentum last week when actors joined their demands. Experts say the September strike will hurt network television, which, aside from scripts, needs actors for new shows coveted by advertisers.
On July 13, SAG-AFTRA used its nearly 160,000 members to help make history with the first simultaneous strike by actors and writers since the 1960s.
Many big-budget films that were running were forced to shut down immediately. Affected productions include the anticipated sequel Deadpool 3
Citing the external influence of the Actors Guild and the reasons why hundreds of scripts are now in limbo, they said if the strikes are not settled by Labor Day, they will begin to affect America in a big way.
At that point, three separate studio chairs said the film and TV show release calendar for 2024 could be strained beyond repair, leaving the fate of the projects up in the air during the pandemic.
A shutdown of a month or more doesn’t worry them, The Times reported — three executives said studios could easily postpone spending money on preproduction and bidding on scripts until the industry is back up and running.
They added that, before revisiting projects that are still in the works, they may drop more expensive ones.
One person, head of a chain of 50 cinemas, told the paper: ‘The situation can be managed if it is short enough to prevent an overwhelming backlog of films.’
But if the twin strikes drag on for just two months, says Jonathan Taplin of USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab: ‘It won’t end well.’
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