Yellowstone

Paramount Network

Aug 28, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


For all its sweeping, expansive shots of the Montana wilderness, the narrative bulk of Paramount Network's Yellowstone is ostensibly contained within the trials and tribulations (and closet skeletons) of the Dutton family; a family dominated by patriarch John, played by Kevin Costner, who owns and operates the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. The show, created by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water), seeks to recapitulate the masculine outlaw attitudes and fraught indigenous relations of the characters within the showrunner's past work (notably Hell or High Water), while framing this dichotomy within patriarch Dutton's relationship to his family, his land, and the Native American reservation that borders the family ranch.

As Paramount's first TV drama and Costner's first starring series role (he played the Hatfield patriarch on History's miniseries Hatfields & McCoys), Yellowstone flaunts its characters and premise like a blockbuster film; a notion that plays well in theory, but in practice is almost as sprawling as the Montana wilderness. Although this does make for some delicious camerawork, the show's characters develop at a slow (albeit realistic) pace. In spite of dialogue that bulges at the seams with platitudes and quotable lines ("man is migratory by nature," for one), Yellowstone's characters all seem desperate for belonging: seeking purpose from father figures, from financial gain, from the power that comes with managing cattle and ranch employees that are themselves treated like cattle (complete with the ranch's monogram branded on the troubled men that Dutton employs).

Aside from the incredibly unlikeable members of the Dutton clan, Yellowstone sends a message that is more than worthwhile. In our modern era of global interconnectivity, the episodic premises of Yellowstone play out like a breath of fresh mountain air. Frigid, yes; a little bleak, certainly-but where Yellowstone really makes a point is in its depiction of humans' use of the land we inhabit. One only needs to observe the strained multigenerational relationship between John and his son Kayce, and Kayce's young son, Tate, to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of American life. The young Duttons live on a reservation, some distance from the Dutton senior and the family ranch, with Kayce's Native American wife, Monica, and her family. It's in this corner of Yellowstone that the differences in scope between life on a reservation and the lavish lifestyle of the profiteering Dutton developers take shape: Kayce drives a beat-up truck, his father pilots a helicopter; Kayce fights for his family and wonders to whom he must be loyal, his father is a master manipulator. It's in this corner of Yellowstone that a greater dialogue can be opened: a dialogue about how we treat each other, the earth, our past, present, and future. (www.paramountnetwork.com/shows/yellowstone)

Author rating: 7/10

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Roger Simmeri
August 29th 2018
3:27am

Well, without the repair, don’t you think any potential buyer, after inspection, would offer to pay less than if it were repaired? So without the repair, it is worth less than if the repair were done by the dot medical examiners. Now, repairing something that is expected to be in good condition doesn’t magically raise the value - it simply allows the value to be what it should be. It’s not as if you added an extra room or remodeled the kitchen to be high end.

Yoshi Ikigai
October 3rd 2018
3:26am

Yellowstone looks like a big-screen movie, and there is ample use of those land-engulfing wide shots from film that make desolately populated, cinematic lands like Texas, Utah and Montana so beautiful. But right from the start, and hammered home by the excessive use of helicopter shots over hotels close to yellowstone national park, it tries to be so expansive and soap-operatic that there’s barely any realism in it. The series opens with tractor-trailer carnage that culminates, pre-credits, with Costner speaking existentially to a damaged and dying horse before shooting it dead. There’s pretty much no turning back from there.