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Is Coyote a True Story? Is the CBS Show Based on Real Life


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Created by David Graziano, Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert, ‘Coyote’ showcases the journey of Ben Clemens (Michael Chiklis), an obstinate lawman and loyal patriot, who spends 32 years of his life patrolling the southern US-Mexican border. After a long and predictably sincere commitment towards protecting the country from immigration uproar, Ben is roped into an alarming discovery of a hidden tunnel responsible for the illegal exchange of consignments between the two countries. Hence, circumstances force him to enter Mexico as an expat.

Ben is gradually exposed to the dangers of life in Mexico, where the crime scene is more pronounced. He encounters the head of a small family cartel, El Cartin (Juan Pablo Raba), who forces Ben to work for him. He irretrievably captures Ben in his snatches by threatening to involve his family if he expresses dissent. Torn between his job and love for his family, Ben has to navigate through the fragility of virtue and intent. With a controversial mix of politics and crime, ‘Coyote’ uses bold tropes to execute the series, making us wonder about its origin. Is ‘Coyote’ based on a true story? Let’s find out.

Is Coyote Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Coyote’ is not based on a true story. It is an original screenplay by David Graziano that highlights the persistent political tension between the USA and Mexico based on its chaotic immigration front. The show’s message is imbibed in the audience through the insights of Ben Clemens, whose understanding of morality is segregated in black and white. But when duty calls from beyond the US-Mexican border where he is accustomed to his entire life, the boundaries between right and wrong evaporate. Ben slips into the darker side of reality, where he is forced to question his ideals and convictions.

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Graziano’s idea initially appealed to Paramount Network in May 2019, whose president Kent Alterman mentioned that he wanted to introduce shows appealing to a broader audience base. He was asked about his work in Paramount Network and Comedy Central, to which he stated, “None of us can think of a time that is more polarizing and fractured than the times we’re living in now. That informs a lot of how we approach what we’re doing. Comedy is one of the greatest ways of processing the insanity of the world. And on the drama side, the drama is an incredible escape from the world.”

In another interview, Alterman expressed his opinion about Chiklis as Ben Clemens. He said, “It’s a part tailor-made for him; it’s a really complex character. He’s a border patrol agent, and he is forced into retirement, and then he gets sucked into all sides of that world, the drug cartels in Mexico, the human trafficking, and the authorities on the U.S. side. The deeper he goes into that world, he discovers more complicated, sometimes dark and nefarious characters.”

Production was thereafter shifted to the hands of CBS All Access on November 19, 2020. Set amidst waves of political issues, ‘Coyote’ attaches underlying humanness to the plot, further reinstated by Graziano in an interview. He mentioned that Ben gets pulled into a drama about a helpless young girl who approaches him, stating that she is in danger. He decides to help her out by taking her across the border, which eventuates a series of other dangerous situations: a ripple effect.

Chiklis, on being interviewed, revealed that Ben’s character development pulled him to the script. He expressed deep fascination in portraying Ben, whose point of view is challenged when he is mercilessly shoved into alienating circumstances. His prejudiced outlook is torn apart by his experiences in a foreign country. He said that it is remarkable how accomplished personalities learn and grow when their comfort zone is crushed. Although a ‘Coyote’ is not based on actual events, it does offer an insight into the situations people in Ben’s position quite often find themselves trapped in.

Read More: Where Is Coyote Filmed?

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