Young studs Skylar and Teigen join a volunteer fire department to break down generational gaps, small town stereotypes, and the doors of burning trailer homes.
When things heat up … things heat up.
In the small town of Genoa, Arkansas, the summers are hot and the fires are even hotter. But in a community of just over 1000 people, the only hope you’ve got when your field becomes an inferno are the neighbors who volunteer to help. So for the past twenty-five years, Cletus and Yancy have run the Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue out of a converted church house where Yancy’s grandpappy used to preach the word. Whether it’s a grease fire in Martha Whitehead’s gourmet style kitchen or another flare-up from Chevy Martindale’s meth lab in his trailer, Cletus and Yancy will be there as fast as Cletus can navigate the Genoa backwoods in his jacked up Ford. Other volunteers have helped through the years, but Cletus and Yancy have always run the show. And the show has kept the good people of Genoa safe for a quarter of a century. But now, a new class of volunteers may be threatening everything Cletus and Yancy know about volunteer fire and rescue. Skylar, Teigen, and several of their friends have all signed up, and these boys fight fire with fire. Skylar attacks every fire with the heel of his boot as he’s kicking down the front door--barreling into the blaze with zero regard for his own safety. The only thing he breaks more of than door jams are country girls’ hearts. Teigen’s broken his fair share of heart himself. Starting with his Baptist preacher daddy … when he came out of the closet. These two lifelong best friends, with a handful of buddies in tow, are ready to revolutionize the volunteer fire fighting in Genoa, whether Cletus and Yancy are ready or not. And it’s a good thing for Genoa. Because in this tiny little country town, the only things hotter than the fires … are the boys.
A lifelong resident of Genoa and a grizzled veteran of Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue. When Cletus was a boy, his father started the volunteer fire department, calling it Volunteer Firemen of Genoa. He would do ride alongs with his dad as young as six. When he was twelve, he watched in horror as Cletus, Sr., and the rest of the Volunteer Firemen stood helpless, listening to the cries of at least twenty baby ostriches on Barnaby Gordon’s ostrich farm. “Can’t help ‘em, son,” Cletus, Sr., had told his boy, who looked on through tears that streamed down his dirty little face. “We put out the fires. But we ain’t rescue. We’ll have to hope for help to come from town in time to save those big, weird chickens.” But help did not arrive in time. And Barnaby Gordon never again wore the crown of Ostrich King of Southwestern Arkansas. In that moment, Cletus vowed, never again. And five years later, when he took over as head of the Volunteer Firemen, his first order of business was to change the name and the mission. Volunteer Fire … AND Rescue. Cletus believes in his work. And he believes in finding a way to get the job done. So while he is conflicted about the rookies, especially some of their sexual preferences, he appreciates the brazen nature of their rescue efforts. He knows he’s getting older, and he needs someone like Skylar, with his devil-may-care attitude, to make sure not one more goddamn big, weird chicken ever dies on his watch.
One day, up on Old Man Truesdale’s hill, Jack Burkhalter asked Suzanne Milhouse to pull up her skirt and flash her panties. Jack was the eighth grade star quarterback and Suzanne was a lowly seventh grade cheerleader, so obviously Jack expected to get what he wanted. When Suzanne said no, Jack scooped up her puppy, Mr. Bojangles, and put him in a wagon. With one kick, he sent the wagon hurtling down the hill. There was no time to think. Skylar scooped up the closest bicycle--Jack’s--and took off after Mr. Bojangles. Without a passing thought for his own safety, Skylar overtook the bounding wagon, leaned over, and scooped up Mr. Bojangles with one hand right before the wagon crashed into an oak tree, sending shards of wood splintering around Skylar as he skidded to a stop. After struggling to pedal back up the hill, Skylar knocked Jack out with a right hook. Then he returned the puppy to Suzanne, who thanked him with a kiss right on the lips. It was Skylar’s first kiss. And his first time to ride a bike without training wheels. He was five. And he never changed. Skylar wants to live life at full speed with no seatbelt … and no condom. He wants to feel things. He’s a simple guy. Don’t know much about nothing. Ain’t got no use for college or books. He loves his guns and his country music, but he also loves his gay best friend. Never gave much thought to any of the debates about choosing or being born that way. Skylar don’t care, to be honest. All he knows is that Teigen’s his best friend, and he’ll fight by his side in any bar, gay or straight. Volunteer Fire and Rescue is Skylar’s chance to prove he’s more than just a chiseled jawline and a nice set of abs. He may not be headed to med school like his younger sister, but he can still be of service to his community. He loves Genoa, and wants to make it a better place for his kids, when he has some. And judging from how he spends his nights, that could be any day now.
He’s been best friends with Cletus since he was able to walk across the field between their childhood homes. But while Cletus lived in a big, fancy, three-bedroom house, Yancy grew up in a trailer with a blanket for a door. For him, Fire and Rescue isn’t just his opportunity to help his neighbors. It’s his chance to find out what they’re all up to, and put a goddamn stop to it. And behind the sanctity of his Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue badge … the one Cletus had made for him by a bonafide Civil War blacksmith reenactor … he’s gonna get to the bottom of every last mystery in the town of Genoa. And these rookies can either get in line and help him or get the hell out of his way.
There are two things Teigen’s daddy won’t accept about him. Two things Teigen has no more control over than he does over the color of his eyes: the blue of Icelandic Crystal Ice Caves. His Baptist preacher father won’t accept Teigen’s sexuality and he won’t even acknowledge Teigen’s mixed-race heritage. The former would mean his son is seeking out answers somewhere other than the word of God, and the latter would mean his wife was seeking more than haircuts and groceries when she made trips to town. When Skylar talked him into joining the Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Teigen saw it as his chance to prove to Genoa that he has a place in their community. It also gave him a chance to keep tabs on Skylar, if that’s even possible. Keeping that boy alive may kill them both before it’s all said and done. But if they can stay alive, then they can both carve out a place in Genoa, break down a few cultural barriers, and, if they can get a little help from Cletus and Yancy, they might just find Teigen’s real daddy.
Skylar’s younger sister and easily the smartest person in Genoa. Her dream is to be an invasive cardiologist. Saffron wants to hold a heart in her hands. She thrives on pressure. So every chance she gets, she’s sneaking into the bed of Skylar’s pickup truck and riding along with Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue. And the team hates it … until there’s a life that needs saving.
When Imagene was thirteen years old, Cletus won her hand in marriage playing a game of cards. As horrifying as it was to young Imagene and to women everywhere, she’ll be damned if she didn’t end up falling in love with the old bastard, even with twenty-four years between them. She has become a mother figure to the Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue team, serving as a connection between the generations as well as the voice of reason when Yancy gets all up into one of his theories.
Lavonte is damn near the only black resident of Genoa. He was adopted as a boy by gentle old Mrs. Geraldine Balentine and her kind, mute husband, Duff. Although Lavonte was already nine at the time, he came to love the Balentines and takes care of them financially by fixing cars and tinkering on just about every gadget in Genoa. In fact, Lavonte is the only paid member of the Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue. Cletus pays him to keep the trucks running. But what none of them knows is that Lavonte was sent to Genoa on a mission. A mission by his father. To find his missing half brother.
Axl has been Teigen’s on again off again boyfriend since they shared a kiss on a bridge in junior high. What began as a Romeo-Juliet love story, when they lived in Genoa and Fouke, respectively, blossomed into a full fledged teenage romance, complete with breakups and reconciliations and even a promposal, when Axl showed up to Genoa Central High School with his band, Phil Dale’s Broken Heart, to sing a cover of The Smiths “Hand In Glove,” which culminated with asking Teigen to prom. When the school tried to block the two boys from going to prom because Axl lived in Fouke, Skylar offered up an empty trailer home of his family’s. And Axl still lives there, where he spends his days as a medical transcriptionist, and his nights working on his music. When he’s not tied up helping out with Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue, that is.
Skylar has a long list of broken hearts to his credit, but the only girl to ever break his heart is Dixie May. Although she’s been best friends with Skylar and Teigen since the three of them were kids, she never fell for Skylar’s charms, as much as he may have tried through the years. She left her backwoods tomboy ways behind when she started high school, and now Dixie May is the social organizer of the Genoa party scene. Rarely is she seen without a drink in hand and glitter shimmering on her face. Her nightlife doesn’t leave much time for Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue, but she gets pulled in to serve as dispatch from time to time by her Uncle Cletus and Aunt Imagene.
We fade in on a riding lawn mower slowly working its way across a field. Silhouetted against the blood orange of the setting sun is its driver. He’s wearing a straw cowboy hat and cutoff blue jean shorts with Timberland boots. His plaid shirt lies open, ruffling in the wind. Suddenly he stops. In the distance, smoke drifts up over the trees. He leaps off the mower, one side of his shirt flapping open. The dwindling rays of the sun reflect off his sweat-glistened abs. He glowers in the direction of the smoke, pale blue eyes baring down on the horizon. He’s worried, and it’s genuine. This is his town. Someone in his town is in trouble.
He begins rifling through his pockets, looking for his phone. But almost immediately a pickup truck bounds around a dirt road and skids to a stop in front of him. A young man his age pops up out of the driver side window. He’s shirtless and wearing a George Strait baseball cap. His shoulders and biceps are muscular and tan. He slaps the top of the pickup and shouts, “Teigen! We got one! Git in!”
Teigen runs for the truck, but the driver is sliding down and pulling off before he even reaches it. Teigen laughs, “Dammit, Skylar.” He leaps for the bed of the truck, climbing in and working his way around to slide into the passenger side window as they speed through fields and backroads.
They finally come to a stop at a trailer home in a blaze. Skylar and Teigen leap out of the truck and run up to the front of the house. An older man is doubled over, wheezing and coughing. He’s a large man, with a few too many pounds in the middle, but he has the same shoulders and arms as Skylar. Has a grizzled, country strong look about him. Another man, the same age but more cagey looking, is tending to him. Skylar puts a hand on the larger man’s shoulder, “What do we got, Cletus?”
Cletus coughs and can’t answer. Teigen steps forward and talks to the cagey fellow, “Yancy? Is he okay?”
Yancy waves him off, “He’ll be fine. We can handle it.”
Before anyone can act, a woman runs up, screaming, “Please! You have to help! My baby is in there!”
The men all turn and look at her, and then stare at the blazing house in shock.
Another woman runs up, “My daughter is in there, too! She took her baby in there! To show her a box of golden retriever puppies!”
Skylar wheels around and turns his hat backwards.
Teigen cocks his head, “Skylar. Skylar, wait.”
Yancy grabs Skylar’s arm, “Cletus tried, boy! We can’t! We just can’t!”
Skylar stares them both down, “Well, the way I see it, cain’t is just ain’t with a c in the front. And if you two ain’t, then I’ll do it my damn self.”
He bursts through them and runs for the house. With one swift move, he kicks open the door. Flames lick out around him and retreat back inside. In the light of the fire, we can see the tattoo on Skylar’s lower back. It’s the Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue emblem, with the words “A Country Boy Can Survive” written above it. Skylar leaps into the burning house.
Teigen shakes his head, “Skylar, you hot headed son of a …” But as he talks, he pulls off his shirt and runs after him.
Yancy yells, “It’s suicide!”
Teigen stops cold and looks back over his shoulder. With his shirt off, we can see it. He has the matching tattoo. “No,” he says back to Yancy. “It’s my best friend.”
After some building of doubt, Teigen and Yancy manage to make a way out for Skylar. Everyone watches for a long moment before, out of the smoke, Skylar appears. In one hand, he is carrying a toddler, who is carrying a baby. In the other hand, he has a box full of golden retriever puppies. He turns to Teigan, “‘bout time you boys got off your asses and fetched me outta there.”
They all laugh. Cut to title screen.
During the rest of the pilot, we discover someone has been setting fires around Genoa. And it’s up to Genoa Volunteer Fire and Rescue to find out who it is. We experience some of the generational drama between Cletus/Yancy and Skylar/Teigan, but we mainly roll through a moment with each character off duty.
We see Teigan share a tender moment with Axl.
We also meet Saffron and see her back and forth with Skylar about letting her tag along.
Through Cletus and Yancy, we meet Imagene, Dixie May, and Lavonte. They are all back at home when Cletus comes in still hacking. Yancy helps him in, and Lavonte immediately runs to tend to him. Imagene gives them all a cussing for taking too many chances. But Dixie May strolls in, fresh from a party. She informs Imagene and the rest that they don’t have a choice. “Someone in this town is set on burning it all down. And the way I hear it, they aim on starting with the Clip and Snip tomorrow night.”
The team sets up a stake out at the Clip and Snip. Here we get more generational clash. But before anything can happen at the Clip and Snip, Imagene calls with an urgent message. There is a fire. It's at Axl's trailer.
Saffron shoots up from the back of Skylar’s truck. “It’s a misdirection. They wanted us here so we’d miss the real fire!”
They rush to the trailer. Skylar has to hold Teigan back as he sobs in his arms. Yancy rushes in. He comes out with a body. It’s Axl.
Saffron rushes to his side. She does all she can. But it’s too late. Axl is dead.
Teigan starts to go to him, but he can’t. He asks through tears, “Was it painless? Please tell me it was painless. Was it smoke inhalation?”
Saffron looks up, with terror in her eyes. “No,” she almost whispers it. She flips open Axl’s shirt to reveal the same tattoos and polished abs from before. But now, there are multiple stab wounds in his torso. Saffron looks up at the group. “It was knife inhalation.”