AS TAYLOR SHERIDAN’S TV empire grows at Paramount, so does his A-list casts. Special Ops: Lioness—the writer’s latest CIA drama for the network (the man already holds the keys for already running Yellowstone, 1923, Tulsa King, and Mayor of Kingstown)—stars big names such as Zoe Saldaña, Nicole Kidman, and Morgan Freeman.

Lioness follows three CIA agents who attempt to bring down a terrorist organisation from within. Read on for everything you need to know about the exhilarating new series.

What is Special Ops: Lioness about?

Following a CIA officer named Joe (Saldaña), Special Ops: Lioness focuses on a group of women in the agency’s Lioness program. These special undercover agents embed themselves in criminal organisations and terrorist groups to gather information and perform special surveillance missions. It’s a dangerous gig, and one that Joe must hide from her husband Neil (Dave Annable). There’s also Cruz (Laysla De Oliveira), a rookie Lioness operative and former Force Recon Marine who is just learning the ropes of the job.

Who stars in Special Ops: Lioness?

There’s some big names here. Aside from Saldaña in the leading role of Joe, Australia’s own Nicole Kidman stars as Kaitlyn Meade, who is described by Paramount as: “the CIA’s Senior Supervisor who has had a long career of playing the politics game. She must juggle the trappings of being a woman in the high-ranking intelligence community, a wife that longs for the attention she herself can’t even give and a mentor to someone veering suspiciously close to the same rocky road she’s found herself on.”

The legendary Morgan Freeman also appears as the series’ Secretary of State, Edwin Mullins. Laysla De Oliveira (Locke & Key) plays Cruz Manuelos, a young Marine who is recruited into the CIA’s Lioness Engagement Team to help bring down a dangerous terrorist organisation.

The cast also includes Jill Wagner, Dave Annable, LaMonica Garrett, James Jordan, Austin Hébert, Hannah Love Lanier, Stephanie Nur, and Jonah Wharton—and both Saldaña and Kidman served as producers, too.


Is Special Ops: Lioness based on a true story?

Yes and no. Paramount promotes that the series is based on a real CIA program, but the Lioness Engagement Team had a bit of a different history during its time in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the official website of the United States Marine Corps, the Lioness Program was a way for American military personnel to search female insurgents that they believed could be smuggling contraband. “Since Muslim tradition does not allow a man to touch a woman who is not related to them and knowing American military personnel would not search them unless a female service member was present, insurgents began to use women to smuggle contraband,” Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn explains on the website. “To counter this threat, the Marine Corps developed the Lioness Program, which was formed [in 2004] to provide culturally-sensitive searches on Iraqi women.”

The “Lionesses” in the upcoming series seem to be serving as undercover operatives—embedding themselves into terrorist organisations to gather intel and destroy them from the inside—and not checkpoint TSA. But hey, that’s showbiz, baby! And you can’t deny that what Sheridan and co. have cooked up sounds a lot more exciting.

Where can I watch Special Ops: Lioness in Australia?

For now, Special Ops: Lioness is only available to stream on Paramount+. With the network airing episodes of previously exclusive series like 1923 on network television (due to the SAG-AFTRA strike), it’s possible that Special Ops may become available for non-subscribers in the future. Paramount already released the first three episodes of Lioness, with the rest of the eight-episode series rolling out weekly through September 3.

A version of this article originally appeared on Esquire US.