Yellowstone is one of TV’s biggest shows, but far from the buzziest

Kevin Costner in Yellowstone (Photo: Paramount+)

Kevin Costner in a Yellowstone (Photo: Paramount+)
Draw: Rebecca Fasola

when YellowstoneParamount Network’s first season debuted in the summer of 2018, and it sounded like a surefire critic. on time, YellowstoneTaylor Sheridan (who is also the lead drama writer and episodic director) has had an incredible streak of wins, attracting fervor to his Assassin And Hell or High Water Strong scripts and reviews for his writing and directing the snow-filled crime movie wind river. Sheridan demonstrated a real talent for quirky planning and colorful dialogue, along with a rare understanding of the issues affecting modern rural America.

If anything, the biggest concern with Yellowstone Before the premiere was whether he would find an audience. Although Paramount Network has already engaged in original programmingYellowstone, circa 2018, has yet to establish itself as a serious competitor to HBO, AMC, or FX. Even with a bankable star like Kevin Costner (with solid new Western origins) playing wealthy Montana ranch owner John Dutton in a soapy and violent tale of family feuds and bitter property disputes, it seemed like the show would be far from wrecked.

And here we are, more than three years later; And in terms of total number of viewers per week, each Yellowstone The episode draws the kind of numbers that cable TV hasn’t seen in days the walking Dead And game of Thrones. And this is without a clear and clear flow port. (Before CBS All Access became Paramount+, YellowstoneProduction partners signed a deal with NBC affiliate Peacock To stream entire seasons of Yellowstone, but not the new episodes.) With over 10 million viewers per episode, this show trumps just about everything on TV besides the sports and singing competitions. that it lovable.

this fan, anyway, Not translated into a post. Over the past few months, the entertainment media has been pumping out heaps of reviews and articles about it Succession, cable drama with a fraction of Yellowstonepublic. Yellowstone It is written about – sometimes by writers who are really looking for it – but most of the time it is ignored. Not many top 10 lists are generated at the end of the year. The cast does not compete for industry awards. The show doesn’t even inspire the realistic “Too Bad It’s Good” pieces. It just isn’t widely discussed.

I met Sheridan A few weeks ago for a The New York Times Article I wrote about the new Yellowstone prequel series 1883, which debuted last Sunday on Paramount+. I asked him about the void surrounding the conversation Yellowstone And whether it bothers him, given that his work just before the series was so critically acclaimed. the Hell or High Water The script was nominated for an Academy Award, for heaven’s sake. wind river He won the Sheridan Prize for Best Director in the “Un Certain Regard” section in Cannes. the Assassin sequel Sicario: Soldado’s Day It elicited mixed reactions…but at least it was discussed.

Sheridan, unsurprisingly, insisted on it YellowstoneThe lack of attention from critics and awards does not bother him. As far as it’s concerned, it’s an entertaining, groovy, and well-acted show aimed at the people he grew up with: the ruthless individuals who work on farms and ranches and watch their way of life frustratedly eroded by voracious capitalists and well-meaning but belittling bureaucrats. For a program to have a wide audience is validation enough that it is doing something right. It tells stories no one else tells, and it makes them pop. (Sheridan maintains the connection, too: 1883 It is generally heavier width than YellowstoneAnd Tells a harrowing story of what the Oregon Trailwagen was likeAnd But the preview on Paramount Network still drew nearly five million live viewers, and Paramount+ announced that the first episode was the series’ most-watched premiere to date.)

As for me, I still find the media response to be pretty dim Yellowstone bewildering. I say this not because I think Yellowstone It is a wonderful show. it was moments of greatness through its four seasons. It was marked by some unforgettable scenes and crackling performances; Sheridan’s dialogue remained strong and direct. The series also suffers from persistent weaknesses as well, But even at its worst, Yellowstone Much has been offered to be examined, analyzed, praised, and denounced. Covered the first and third seasons to EagleAnd while my opinion of the show varies wildly from episode to episode, I never run out of talking points.

Surely a lot of what I wrote is implied what i felt Yellowstone Fail. In our interview, Sheridan admitted that he broke a lot of the rules of prestigious television storytelling — principally by keeping plots stuck in the dark for weeks and then abruptly moving forward. For me, the bigger problem is that whenever a story suddenly introduces contradictory twists or new complications, there are rarely any lasting effects. Various members of the Dutton family and their closest allies have faced death and escape many times. Forgive unforgivable betrayals. Unbeatable enemies are beaten. It seems that every unnamed John Dutton character changes jobs every three or four episodes. Nothing sticks.

Image of the article titled How Can Yellowstone Be One of Television's Biggest Successes When It's the least discussed?

Photo: Paramount Network

There are other issues. Sheridan loves to write tough and colorful women (and Kelly Riley does Yeoman as the toughest and most energetic of all, John’s brass daughter Beth), But the result is that many of them appear to be unstable and/or cartoonish. too much Yellowstone Storylines degrade with violence – again, without consequences. While Sheridan admirably deals with real-world issues such as the reckless exploitation of natural resources and the shameful neglect of Naamerican rights, Yellowstone He almost always defaults to portraying John Dutton as the stubborn but noble keeper of a better and older way of life—even when that puts him at odds with environmentalists and indigenous Montana.

All that said, it’s hard to even name so many popular dramas attempt For sorting pressure type st.American Western Century fears it Yellowstone Dig on a weekly basis. Two of the closest comparisons to Yellowstone On TV today Succession And billions, where the three revolve around the fun, cruel and sinister games played by the rich and the politically powerful. but while Yellowstone It’s not always as cool as these other two shows, it’s often more important. If nothing else, Sheridan seems to care a lot about Not– Rich people who move around and get bruised hard when VIPs start wrestling.

In other words: Yellowstone No 9-1-1 or Equalizer Or any of the other hugely popular State of the Week network series that are generally ignored by television critics and award-granting bodies. Yellowstone substantial. It can stand up to weekly scrutiny. So why is it left to thrive mostly in the shade?

To an extent, I think feelings run high when it comes to what entertainment covers. Once critics and enthusiastic TV watchers decide the show isn’t worth watching closely, it’s hard to lose the “not important enough” label. only sometimes Names From these series it became an acronym for “the famous schlock whose taste no one ever sees.” (I can’t count the number of times over the past few years I’ve seen someone on social media get rid of them Young Sheldon As an example of network TV worthless rubbish, when in fact it’s a really cool and cute show with its unique sensibility.)

Once again, Sheridan said he doesn’t care about that Yellowstone He doesn’t write much, and I believe him. Maybe it’s a free thing, to deliver the show he wants to deliver and get over 10 million episode viewers without any media backlash or public pressure. But it’s strange to think of those 10 million people who spend an hour each week sweating the twists and turns of such an ambitious and vast contemporary West…and then navigate the Internet to read more and find a few.

The job of journalism isn’t just to help set the agenda for readers Must They care about it but also reflect what people actually care about – if only to leave an accurate document for the times. Decades from now, popular culture scholars will look at the amount of coverage different TV shows got in the fall of 2021 and assume that Americans were more obsessed with it. yellow jackets From Yellowstone. And whether you like it or not, it’s not.

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