The ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are a setback for those who have grown tired of reruns but there are positives within the chaos. Case in point: the broadcast premiere of “Yellowstone” Sunday, Sept. 17 on CBS.
Odds are you’ve heard about this hit Western drama, which premiered in summer of 2018 on Paramount Network and has become a pop culture juggernaut. The relatable saga of the dysfunctional Duttons trying to hold onto their Montana cattle ranch against all odds culturally, financially and politically recalls the family in-fighting and emotional volatility of such esteemed TV dramas as “Dallas,” “Succession,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Brothers & Sisters” and “Queen Sugar” to name only a few.
Created by Taylor Sheridan (“Hell or High Water”), “Yellowstone” is on its Season 5 hiatus due to the strikes. Only eight episodes have aired out of an expected 14. Season 5 is also expected to be the final season due to the exit of its leading man, Academy Award winner Kevin Costner. Costner’s earnest, gruff and no-nonsense portrayal of patriarch John Dutton III is among the best of his career (he won a Golden Globe earlier this year), and the show really wouldn’t have been the same without him in spite of a very talented ensemble. Costner and Co. was duly recognized in 2022 with a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.
As CBS prepares to give audiences a throwback to Season 1, here are five reasons why you should finally see what all the fuss is about.
1. Getting to know the Duttons
Widower John Dutton III has four kids: Lee (Dave Annable), Jamie (Wes Bentley), Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Beth (Kelly Reilly). It’s important to know there are secrets and lies continuously brewing among the Duttons which will not be revealed here. But pay close attention to the relationship between Jamie and Beth, whose disdain for each other reaches fever pitch in a power struggle that becomes the juicy catalyst for incredible fireworks in future seasons, particularly Season 4.
2. Don’t mess with Beth
It’s an absolute shame Kelly Reilly doesn’t have an Emmy on her mantle for her outstandingly visceral, full-throttle and tough-talking portrayal of Beth. The British actress, who won raves for her theater work on London’s West End, always digs deep with a ferocity that is authentic, compelling and raw. Among Beth’s classic quotes delivered by Reilly with gusto: “You are the trailer park. I am the tornado.”
In Season 2, Reilly memorably delivers a tour-de-force performance in one of the most brutal, harrowing scenes in the show’s history, but Season 1 wonderfully sets the groundwork for the level of magnetism she’s capable of producing, particularly opposite the brooding Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler, the loyal ranch foreman she falls in love with as a young girl.
3. Dayton native Luke Grimes balances grit and tenderness
As the Dutton dynamics swell, Dayton native Luke Grimes, a Dayton Christian High School graduate, has proven to be a calming, good-natured presence as Kayce. Grimes, an expressive actor, warmly interprets Kayce as a loving family man (Kelsey Asbille portrays his supportive wife, Monica; Brecken Merrill portrays their son, Tate) but by no means is the youngest Dutton a pushover thanks to his gritty underbelly as a fierce protector. Grimes is also pursuing a country music career with a debut album on the horizon. He’s already released such singles as “No Horse to Ride,” “Hold On” and “Oh Ohio.”
4. Fantastic flashbacks
Sheridan’s inherent gift for storytelling keeps “Yellowstone” addictive, especially his use of pivotal flashbacks. In Season 1, you’ll meet John’s late wife as well as the impressively acted younger versions of Beth and Rip, played by Rhys Alterman and Kyle Red Silverstein. The fantastic seeds Sheridan plants in the Beth/Rip storyline are key to understanding the depth of their relationship and romance moving forward, which remains a key factor of the show’s success.
5. You have plenty of time to catch up
No one knows when “Yellowstone” will finish the remainder of Season 5 on the Paramount Network, but the franchise hasn’t lost any steam. The Duttons are also the focus of the Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren-led prequel “1923,” which serves as a sequel to “1883″ starring Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. So, with “Yellowstone” in limbo this fall, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up with the saga on Sundays to see how it all began. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
“Yellowstone” will air Sunday following “60 Minutes.”