Coyote

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
Coyote TV Poster Image
Violence, swearing, ethnic stereotypes in border cop drama.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Coyote is a story about protecting and sacrificing for others, even when it means putting one's self at risk.

Positive Role Models

Coyote takes place on the Mexican-American border and almost exclusively portrays Latinx people as violent criminals or their victims. Any persons of color on the Border Patrol itself are only seen in the background of group shots. The show is also very patriarchal -- female characters, with one exception, are exclusively wives, mothers, lovers, and victims.

Violence

Violence is a major part of the series, and each episode features several elaborately staged fight scenes. These include gunfights and hand-to-hand combat. Domestic abuse and rape are also implied but not seen. The effects of violence are shown, including blood, wounds, and dead bodies.

Sex

Contains limited sexual content, sticking mostly to basic romantic relationships. 

Language

Profanity is used throughout and includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "motherf--ker," etc.

Consumerism

Product placement is featured on Coyote. Specifically, alcohol products are shown and used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are shown drinking socially. Marijuana is used socially. Drug sales and trafficking are discussed but hard drug use is not shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Coyote is a drama series about a retired Border Patrol officer who gets involved in a conflict with a Mexican cartel. Violence is a major part of Coyote, and each episode features several elaborately staged fight scenes. These include gunfights and hand-to-hand combat. Domestic abuse and rape are also implied but not seen. Injuries sustained from violence are shown, including blood, wounds, and dead bodies. Profanity is used throughout and includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "motherf--ker," etc. The show takes place on the Mexican-American border and is problematic in its depiction of Latinx characters. Coyote exclusively portrays Latinx characters as violent -- or as victims of violence -- and those on the "good" side (the Border Patrol and its extended community) are exclusively White.

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What's the story?

COYOTE tells the story of Ben Clemens (Michael Chiklis), a newly retired Border Patrol agent who was devoted to his job and mostly estranged from his family as a result. Clemens travels back and forth across the border to fix up his deceased partner's house in Mexico in order to sell it. While in Mexico, Clemens becomes unwittingly involved in a conflict with a violent local gang, which forces him to make difficult choices between his devotion to the law and his love for his family.

Is it any good?

Michael Chiklis is best known for The Shield, a show about a profoundly corrupt police unit in which Chiklis plays the leader and worst offender. The Shield's portrayal of cops as bad guys was revelatory at the time of its release in 2002, especially in the wake of the LAPD's Rampart scandal, which implicated the police in murders, bank robberies, and drug trafficking, among other offenses. Anyone expecting a similarly subversive story from Coyote, which is being billed as Chiklis' return to crime drama, will be deeply disappointed.

Coyote puts Chiklis' Border Patrol agent, Ben Clemens, squarely in the hero role while portraying nearly every Latinx character as a violent criminal or victim, while also depicting Latin American countries like Mexico and El Salvador as overrun with gang violence. At a time when misconduct by U.S. Border Patrol officers is frequently in the news and Latinx people are consistently slandered and stereotyped as criminals, Coyote mostly feels like blatant copaganda.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Ben Clemens and the Border Patrol. What do we know about Clemens' job? What kind of tasks does he perform every day? How does he go about doing his job? How does his work impact the other areas of his life?

  • How do you think the show wants us to feel about Clemens? Is he a likeable character? Why or why not?

  • Does Clemens change over the course of the show? If so, how? What causes him to change? 

TV details

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