Yellowstone is the most thorough and uncompromising American thing on television

More happens in a single episode of yellowstone than will happen in an entire season of any other series. There is so much to “show”. yellowstonenearing his fifth year on the Paramount network, that it’s actually five shows now — set in the various decades since white men first rode west.

There is 6666a contemporary drama about a cowboy who once worked for John Dutton, the taciturn rancher played by Kevin Costner in the original yellowstone. And then there’s 1923, an upcoming series about another man named Dutton – this time Harrison Ford – who survives the Great Depression. and 1883, a drama about how another, different man named Dutton – a burly Tim McGraw – started his ranch after the Civil War. (There was so much to do 1883 for the spin-off to have a spin-off of its own; 1883: The Bass-Reeves Story will be about the first black US marshal west of the Mississippi.) Considering that he belongs to the most impressive TV dynasty of our time game of ThronesYou are in a different bubble. yellowstone is not just a family owned ranch outside of Bozeman, Montana; it is a solar system.

At the radiant center of this universe is creator Taylor Sheridan. Bard of modern horse opera and poet of cowboy schlock. before yellowstoneSheridan is best known for writing the 2015 Palme d’Or nominated thriller sicariowhich he followed two critically acclaimed neo-westerns: hell or flood and wind flow. yellowstone shares the same rugged mesmerizing landscape as these films but operates in a different tonal register. In this alternate reality version of the Wild West, the white man is not the usurper, but the face of tradition, which stands up nobly to property sharks and vegetarians. Here the cowboys are the Indians. It’s the most American thing you’ve ever seen.

The show’s politics aren’t subtle, but they are deeply personal. “I’m the opposite of progress,” John Dutton, Big Sky state’s next governor, tells his supporters. John ran on an anti-growth, anti-tourism, and anti-developer platform. Anti-humans, really, because most of what the invading Montana coastal elites need — like housing or even an airport to land in — poses a threat to his beloved ranch. “I am the wall against which progress presses.”

In season five, John approaches his selfish turn to politics with the same “do I-have-to-do-everything-myself” anger that has become the character’s most amusing, if ultimately confusing, trait. He inherited the largest ranch in Montana, but from his point of view, the whole world was against him. Although he has lost nothing in recent seasons – John Dutton always outwits an opponent – the man has been pushed to the breaking point that is actually his privileged starting position. Again, it really is the most American thing you’ve ever seen.

The new season begins with a sparkling double episode, but by the end of the first hour it’s clear that the series will stay the course. John, beneath that thick shell of cowboy bravado, is truly a hopeless nostalgic—a fragile relic of a bygone era. His scathing daughter Beth — played by scene-stealing Kelly Reilly — can’t heal her childhood wounds of neglect and forced sterilization. His inspector son Kayce – played by Luke Grimes’ scene-stealing, silky hair – can’t win. And his adopted black sheep son Jamie (Wes Bentley) can’t get his family to love him. so that we may never forget yellowstone is a prime-time melodrama in the spirit of dynastyalbeit with prestigious trappings.

Those trappings include an Oscar-nominated creator, a stirring, symphonic score, and enough acting talent to distract from the nagging feeling that you have no idea what happened in last week’s episode. (Cast and guest-stars in the Taylor Sheridan universe include Helen Mirren, Jennifer Ehle, David Oyelowo, Timothy Dalton, Faith Hill, and Billy Bob Thornton. Even Tom Hanks makes an appearance.) Perhaps the true mark of a great soap opera is how much Insanity – murders, kidnappings, sexual violence – an audience willing to accept as normal.

Kelly Reilly as scene stealer Beth in Yellowstone


yellowstone marches confidently toward the past, undeterred by the hypocrisies that underpin his worldview. The only life worth living is the rancher’s life, but the gritty hero of the series is actually more of a ranch manager. In the season five premiere, a newbie cowboy rides John’s horse to keep the animal fit. In fact, it’s Carter, the same boy that Beth “adopted” last season – another attempt to heal herself that didn’t last – before abandoning him to the rowdy machismo of shack life.

Carter decides he wants to be like John when he grows up. Perhaps what he means is that he wants to be stoic and principled with his enemies. Perhaps he would like to have the courage to hold on to his weapons even as the world weathers him. Or maybe he just means he wants to be really, really, really rich someday. It doesn’t matter: every possibility is a riff on the American dream – as compelling as it is empty. Yellowstone is the most thorough and uncompromising American thing on television


JOE HERNANDEZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JOE HERNANDEZ joined USTimeToday in 2022 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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