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FX's The Border - What We Know So Far

Television series about the war on drugs, its political and moral failure, and its incalculable human toll have become commonplace in the era of prestige television. From the literary, all-considering sprawl of "The Wire," to the action-movie intensity of "Narcos," to the Shakespearean tragedies of "Ozark" and "Snowfall," to the sociological insights at the margins of series like "Breaking Bad" and "Orange is the New Black," the complicated nexus that exists between dealers, users, and law enforcement has never been explored in so many different ways on TV — which should tell you something about how much room there is to explore even further.

Now, FX, which has previously made significant contributions to that subgenre with shows like "The Bridge," "Fargo," "The Shield," and "Sons of Anarchy" — all of which helped define a specific aesthetic niche for FX, marking it as a go-to hub for a quality crime drama — is once again tackling the war on drugs with a newly-announced original production. And, much like "The Bridge" and many other series set in the cross-national world of the North American drug trade, it will be a show set at the United States-Mexico border, where the tensions of that world run exceptionally high. Keep reading to discover everything we know about the aptly titled "The Border."

When will The Border be released?

It is difficult to tell, as of right now, when "The Border" will be released on FX. For the time being, what we know, per Deadline, is that FX gave the show a pilot order in December 2022.

We can speculate about a possible timetable for "The Border" based on other FX and FX-produced shows that started as pilot orders. Last year's hit freshman culinary dramedy "The Bear," which aired on Hulu but was made by FX Productions, began its life with the announcement of a pilot order in March 2021 (via Deadline) before coming out as a whole series just over a year later in June 2022. "Kindred," the miniseries adaptation of the classic Octavia E. Butler novel, also received a pilot order from FX in March 2021 (via Deadline) but took a little longer — until December 2022, to be exact — to make it to FX on Hulu screens. 

Given "The Border" will be an hourlong drama with a presumably complex production, its timetable should be closer to "Kindred," which would place its potential release date somewhere between the fall of 2024 and early 2025 — assuming it does make it to series.

What is the plot of The Border?

"The Border" will be an adaptation of an eponymous 2019 novel by American writer Don Winslow. Curiously, the novel in question is the third one in a trilogy, which began with 2005's "The Power of the Dog" — no relation to the 2021 Jane Campion film — and continued with 2015's "The Cartel." "The Power of the Dog" and "The Cartel" actually had their film rights bought by 20th Century Studios (then still known as 20th Century Fox) in 2015, per Deadline. And, although FX Networks was initially owned by Fox and has since become a subsidiary of Disney, it is unclear as of yet if the television series of "The Border" will adapt just the third book or borrow from all books in Winslow's "Cartel Trilogy."

Be that as it may, the "Cartel Trilogy" tells an epic tale focused on a group of characters whose lives become intertwined with the United States' decades-long war on drugs. The official announcement of the series, per Deadline, notes that it "explodes the myths of the drug war through the intertwining narratives of characters on both sides of the Mexican-American border." Those characters — a DEA agent, a high-class escort, a drug trafficker by family trade, and a hitman — will be bound together by an enormous narrative scope covering years and years of North American history and locations ranging from New York to Mexico to Washington, D.C. to Central America.

Who is starring on The Border?

The main characters of "The Border" will be Art Keller, Adan Barrera, Sean Callan, and Nora Hayden, in addition to Adan's brother Raul and their uncle Miguel Angel Barrera.

Art Keller — officially described, per Deadline, as "an obsessive Mexican-American DEA agent" — will be played by E.J. Bonilla. Bonilla is a prolific film and TV actor who first broke out with his role as Raphael "Rafe" Rivera, a character he played between 2007 and 2009 on the CBS soap opera "Guiding Light." He also had recurring roles on "Revenge," "Insecure," and "Bull," appeared as a series regular on "Unforgettable" and "The Long Road Home," and was part of the award-winning ensemble cast of the 2012 indie film "Four."

Adan Barrera, described as "a young boxing promoter who inherits a drug empire," will be portrayed by Mexican actor Sebastián Buitrón, who has had roles on several prominent TV series in Mexico, including the internationally successful "Unstoppable," "Narcos: Mexico," and "Amsterdam." Meanwhile, Adan's uncle Miguel and brother Raul will be played by Luis Bordonada and Josué Guerra (via Deadline), respectively.

Sean Callan will be "an Irish kid from the streets of Hell's kitchen who becomes a ruthless, international hitman," and he will be played by Frank Blake, best known for his roles as Alan on "Normal People" and Captain Declan Fraser on "Sanditon." Nora Hayden, "a jaded teenager who rises to power in the world of high-class escorts," is played by up-and-coming Australian actress Annie Shapiro.

Who is writing and directing The Border?

According to Deadline, "The Border" will have Daniel Zelman and Shane Salerno as executive producers and showrunners. Zelman, a three-time Primetime Emmy nominee (via IMDb), is the creator of two previous successful drama series: FX and Audience Network's "Damages" and Netflix's "Bloodline." Salerno, meanwhile, is a veteran Hollywood screenwriter who has co-penned blockbusters such as "Armageddon," "Shaft," and "Avatar: The Way of Water" — as well as the 2012 Oliver Stone crime drama "Savages," which he scripted alongside Stone and none other than Don Winslow, whose literary work he will now be adapting on "The Border." Deadline notes that Zelman and Salerno adapted "The Border" for television alongside Winslow, Diego Gutierrez, Scott Free, and Jayro Bustamante — the latter of whom will also be directing the pilot.

That bit of news should be fascinating to fans of international arthouse cinema. Jayro Bustamante, a Guatemalan director and screenwriter, is one of the most exciting names in the current generation of up-and-coming filmmaking talents. His 2015 film "Ixcanul," a sparse, elemental drama about a teenage girl from a Kaqchikel village grappling with the obligation of an arranged marriage, was one of the most stunning directorial debuts of the 2010s; Bustamante's follow-up, 2019's "Tremors," continued to impress with its fraught tale of a religious man's belated sexual awakening; the 2019 folk horror "La Llorona" became his most famous film yet and confirmed him as a rising star.