Is 'Mad Dogs' A True Story? Amazon's New Series Has British TV Origins That Hint At What's To Come


Amazon's latest original series, Mad Dogs, seems to be a tale larger than life. Four forty-something men (consisting of a rather impressive cast) meet up in Belize to celebrate the retirement of a friend who has made an alarming amount of money. The tropical setting is ideal for a night of debauchery, but the four men end up getting in way over their heads, being brought into a world of crime and violence that none of them are quite prepared for. But are the crazy events of Mad Dogs based on a true story?

Mad Dogs' plot is totally fictional, but the show isn't completely without inspiration. As reported by Deadline, it is actually adapted from the fictional U.K. series of the same name and was created by the original series' showrunner Chris Cole. The U.K. series featured the same setup as the U.S. series with only a few changes — the Amercian version swaps out Majorca for Belize — and ran for four seasons on British Sky Broadcasting, ending in December 2013. Since the original went on for multiple seasons, we can look towards it for suggestions of what may be ahead on Amazon's Mad Dogs, depending on how much the two diverge.

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Masks play a big part in the original Mad Dogs, and will likely be playing a part in the U.S. series as well. I'm not just talking about the kind you wear on your face either — although it seems most bad guys in Mad Dogs do wear literal masks. The series deals with the masks that people put on as they grow older and apart from each other to define themselves. The four friends are all in vastly different (and less successful) places than their wealthy benefactor, and must put on a new mask — that of a criminal — once things start to go off the deep end.

Things Get Weird

Mad Dogs isn't like most gritty crime dramas that ground themselves in realism and try to depict the darkness of life. There's plenty of bad stuff in Mad Dogs, but it's blended with tiny, surreal moments and odd imagery like a dead goat floating in a swimming pool or dwarf wearing a cat mask holding a gun. As the U.K. series got later into its run, it dipped its toes into more and more surreal imagery, while still staying true to the heart of the show. Absurdity is a big part of Mad Dogs' voice, and the U.S. version should keep that intact.

There Are Plenty Of Laughs

While both the U.K. and U.S. versions of Mad Dogs put the characters in some pretty serious trouble, things never get too dark or dreary as to keep the show from being an enjoyable watch. The show's highest-profile executive producer Shawn Ryan is best known for creating the prestigious television series The Shield, but this television venture seems to be a lot lighter in tone while still serving a strong helping of action. Though the humor is there, it comes in dark doses — one especially hilarious sequence from the original series features the main cast determining how to best hide multiple sacks of money into a statue of the Virgin Mary without devirginizing her. Like many other events in Mad Dogs, this ends poorly.

Mad Dogs' four seasons in the U.K. only added up to 12 episodes of content, while Amazon's first season alone contains 10. So though the new show has a solid base of inspiration, it's going to have to expand to try and find new stories to tell. The original Mad Dogs gives American viewers a good idea of what to expect, but chances are, Amazon's version is going to get very different, very quickly, so we should be prepared for anything.

Images: Francisco Roman/Amazon, Giphy (3)