I am admittedly very late to the party, but I started binging Yellowstone this week and I no longer care about anything else. If you’ve never heard of the TV show Yellowstone, you’re probably not alone. It’s on the Paramount network, which isn’t the most accessible or popular channel. It’s also very easy to lose track of new TV shows when there are so many new shows being thrown at you on a daily basis. None of that should matter anymore, because I can guarantee Yellowstone will be your new favorite show.
Yellowstone follows the life and story of ranching family patriarch John Dutton, played by Oscar and Emmy winner Kevin Costner. He’s incredible as the centerpiece of the show, but what makes the show great is the depth of the ensemble cast. My personal favorite so far (I’ve watched the first 2 seasons) is Rip, played by a grizzled Cole Hauser. When he first popped on the screen in episode 1, I recognized the actor but couldn’t quite remember why. After a little IMDB digging I realized it was from the 2019 Nic Cage classic Running with the Devil. I would never hold it against another actor for being cringeworthy in a Nic Cag movie (it’s almost impossible not to be) but it no longer matters because Cole Hauser is a MAN among men in this role.
The rest of the cast is equally as good: Luke Grimes (Fifty Shades of Grey), Kelly Reilly (True Detective S2), and Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games, American Horror Story) play Kayce, Beth, and Jamie Dutton. Along with Rip, they’re John’s main backup for helping to fend off the two legged and four legged creatures encroaching on the massive amount of land owned by the Dutton’s.
The casting is top notch, and although the plots couldn’t be any more different, the character makeups remind me a lot of Modern Family. If you listen to our podcast, every episode we talk about which movies and TV shows we’re currently watching. One of my favorite parts of Modern Family is how fully formed the characters are from episode 1. You feel like you know each character individually and they also fit into the ensemble seamlessly which allows you to focus on immersing yourself in the storylines. There are no false notes, and Yellowstone does that with it’s characters equally as well.
The plot itself and particularly the ‘solve everything with punching’ character traits reminds me a lot of Sons of Anarchy. Kayce Dutton has the look and personality of Jax Teller, while his sister Beth is a younger, possibly more ferocious Jemma. The positive difference between the two for me is Costner vs Ron Perlman’s Clay. Costner’s John Dutton is ruthless and conniving when needs to be, but he’s such a great actor and has enough sympathetic traits (his illness, his love for his grandson) that you root for him without hesitation. Costner’s main foes through the first two seasons (Dan Jenkins played by X-Men supervillain Danny Huston and Thomas Rainwater played by Taylor Sheridan favorite Gil Birmingham) are really only “villains” because of how much you root for Costner. Their motives are completely understandable and it makes for a compelling drama when you have two equally relatable sides doing battle.
The Taylor Sheridan Effect
A huge reason for the success of the show is the creator/executive producer/writer/director Taylor Sheridan. Dating back to 2015, Sheridan has written Sicario, Hell or High Water and Wind River, three of the top notch action/thrillers of the last 5+ years. On Yellowstone, he is the co-creator, executive producer, has written 30 of the episodes and directed 9 of them. The guy just knows how to make a great, compelling drama. As soon as I saw his name pop up in the credits during episode 1 I knew I was going to love this show and 20 episodes later I have yet to be disappointed.
Tell Me Right Now How I Can Watch It
Hopefully I’ve done a solid job of describing why you should watch it, but now you need to know how. Paramount isn’t the most accessible network, and I’ve been watching via Peacock TV. Obviously there’s a monthly cost for the streaming service, but you’re going to pay regardless of how you watch. At this point, your only job this Easter weekend is to watch Yellowstone. Be warned: you won’t want to do anything else until you’ve watched all the episodes.