‘Fire Country’ Star and Co-Creator Max Thieriot on Firefighters Becoming the New ‘Heroes’ of Broadcast TV: ‘It’s an Anti-Political Thing’

‘Fire Country’ Star and Co-Creator Max Thieriot on Firefighters Becoming the New ‘Heroes’ of Broadcast TV: ‘It’s an Anti-Political Thing’

10/06/2022

Growing up in Northern California, Max Thieriot was keen on firefighters. So, as he starred on “Seal Team,” he started writing “Fire Country,” a drama that follows a young convict who joins a prison release firefighting program to help with wildfires. When Bode Donovan (Thieriot) is assigned to work in his hometown, things become more complicated.

“It certainly started from a purely firefighting CalFire standpoint and what that would look like, but the inmate firefighter program was always going to be something that would be involved in the show,” he tells Variety. “Because of growing up up in Northern California, it was normal, everyday life for me, seeing conservation camp crews work alongside the highway and on the fire lines driving around. Then I realized folks that aren’t from up there, specifically, didn’t really know this was a thing a few years ago.”

He also promises that the CBS show, which focuses a lot on the locals in Bode’s hometown and his immediate family, will also share the backstories of some of the other inmates.

“Our launching point is really unpacking his history there and his history with all the people in this town,” says Thieriot. “Then the plan is to open up into a lot of these evolving character storylines.”

The show’s large cast of series regulars and recurring cast members makes it “tricky,” Thieriot says, because “there’s only so many storylines that we can really service.” But, he adds: “We will be exploring the backstories of these inmates.”

For years, cop shows were all the rave; now, it seems to be shifting into firefighting programs. Fox has “9-1-1” and “9-1-1: Lone Star,” NBC has “Chicago Fire,” ABC has “Station 19” — and now CBS has “Fire Country.” For Thieriot, it makes sense.

“Universally, people revere firefighters as heroes, no matter what. For me, it’s an anti-political thing too. There’s not a lot of folks who can take a stance against firefighters,” he says. “The drama is different. I think a lot of times in entertainment, people want to feel good at the end of something. I’m not saying all the time: You want to be shocked, you want a hook, you want all those things. But I think having that positive sort of message all the time is a nice, uplifting feeling.”

Thieriot adds that the “compassionate humans” who work as firefighters are important to see on screen, especially now.

“It’s nice in today’s day and age, specifically in a time where, unfortunately, the world and our country is still fairly divided. My biggest goal and hope that people will take away from this show is you get to see two different groups of people — these inmate firefighters and your blue-collar rural firefighters — come together with with one goal, one purpose,” he adds.

“I hope that people will just subliminally take some of that away, and maybe just not judge people in general.”

“Fire Country” premieres on CBS Friday, Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. ET.

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