‘The Mosquito Coast’: Why Viewers Might Relate to Family on the Run

The Mosquito Coast on Apple TV Plus
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Season two of The Mosquito Coast starts on Apple TV Plus November 4. Based on Paul Theroux’s novel, the drama has Theroux’s nephew Justin Theroux playing Allie Fox, who Apple TV calls “a brilliant inventor and stubborn idealist.” In a bit of trouble in California, Fox, a genius who does not fit into the workaday world, uproots his family and goes off the grid in Mexico, all the while eluding law enforcement.  

Season two has the Foxes nestled in the Guatemalan jungle to meet up with an old friend and her community of refugees. But Allie being Allie, the family becomes entangled in a conflict between a drug lord and his family. Allie and his wife Margot pursue different paths to secure their family’s future. 

‘Lioness’

Melissa George plays Margot. An Australian, she called the character “a lioness.”

“I love the fact that, this season, she goes at odds a lot with her husband,” she told B+C, “in order to carve the best path for her kids.”

Logan Polish and Gabriel Bateman play the Fox kids. 

The show shot in Mexico, between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. In season one, the viewer doesn’t really know just what Allie did to have police and federal agents chasing after him. In season two, it all becomes apparent. “They had to have done something really bad,” said George, “in order for them to be on the run.”

Those out to get the Foxes include the CIA and drug cartels. 

The book came out in 1981, and a movie, with Harrison Ford as Allie, was released in 1986. 

George shared that Paul Theroux gave her his book after season one wrapped–an autographed first edition. It has not yet been cracked open. 

“I’ve not read the book or seen the film,” she said. “I can’t imagine that what we’ve been shooting is less than or is more than…I don’t need the distraction. I just want to focus on the show that we’ve written and that I’m performing.”

George will eventually read the novel, “when I’m not busy doing other things.”

Paul and Justin Theroux are executive producers along with Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, Stefan Schwartz, Evan Katz and Rupert Wyatt. Alan Gasmer, Bob Bookman and Peter Jaysen exec produce for Veritas Entertainment Group. The series is created for television and executive produced by Neil Cross, who developed the series with Tom Bissell.

Fremantle produces the show. 

Season one reviews were mixed. The New York Times said (opens in new tab), “The larger problem with this first season is that, despite its drumbeat of violent action and its continual tugging at the themes of family devotion versus parental secrecy, nothing really happens.”

A Vulture review read, “When you watch The Mosquito Coast, you’re watching the improvised misadventures of a charismatic but unhinged patriarch who keeps getting the people he’s sworn to care for into trouble; avoiding exposure, capture, or death through a mix of audacity, low cunning, and dumb luck; then blowing up the family’s equilibrium again. Rinse, repeat.”

‘Anti-Capitalism’, ‘Anti-Socialism’ 

Viewers, who have suffered through the pandemic, may dig Mosquito Coast themes and scenes of unplugging from society and floating down the river in Guatemala. George mentioned themes of “anti-capitalism and anti-socialism and escaping the rules of life put on you by the government, and seeking a place where nothing else matters but the love of your family.”

“It’s what a lot of us crave after years of Covid,” she added. “Wouldn’t it be nice to just escape to a jungle or an island with our loved ones, and not have a lot of responsibilities?”

Asked about her highlight for season two, George mentioned a series of table scenes she shares with Theroux, unfolding at an unhurried pace, that are heavy on dialogue–and impactful dialogue to boot. “It’s some of the most powerful lines of the season,” she said. 

Sitting in Paris, George used a French word to describe The Mosquito Coast: Efficace. “It’s an effective piece of programming,” she said. “I hope people start to watch it and we get the audience we deserve.” ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.