Why Kevin Costner’s ‘Yellowstone’ Has Found Massive Success

Series is enjoying smash ratings and an early season-two renewal — the show captures America in a way others don't

Image Credit: Viacom / Paramount

Though it’s only halfway through its first season, Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” has already earned a second season renewal.

The drama, which stars Kevin Costner, premiered to a whopping 5.4 million viewers — and it now sits as the second highest-rated cable show, behind “The Walking Dead.”

It’s no surprise the show is such a monster hit. There’s nothing else like it on television, and the series is delivering the kind of stories audiences crave yet Hollywood often fails to deliver.

“Yellowstone” follows the tales of the Dutton family. John Dutton (Costner) is the head of the biggest ranch in Montana. With the help of his troubled family, he fights off bureaucrats, politicians and others who are looking to cash in on his land.

Taylor Sheridan is the writer and director; he’s a former actor who turned to the written word and who tells stories that other scribes in Hollywood are too scared to tell.

“Sicario” and its sequel were both politically incorrect — but they were accurate tales of the savagery that takes place on the border due to a lack of control.

Do you support individual military members being able to opt out of getting the COVID vaccine?

By completing the poll, you agree to receive emails from LifeZette, occasional offers from our partners and that you've read and agree to our privacy policy and legal statement.

“Hell or High Water” jumped to Texas to show the struggling people too often forgotten about by Washington, D.C., and the entertainment industry.

And “Wind River” hopped over to Wyoming to show that there are still parts of this country that require animal-like skill to survive.

“Yellowstone” now gives viewers a weekly dose of Sheridan’s writing as he takes us on what is essentially a modern-day western.

Related: Why 1988’s ‘Die Hard’ Remains an American Classic

Sheridan recently told Esquire that his goal with “Yellowstone” was to bring the “John Ford experience to television, now that even my cousin, who works two jobs, has a giant flat-screen.”

Ford, of course, directed such classic films as “The Searchers” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” both starring John Wayne.

Related: The 20 Best John Wayne Lines of All Time

Sheridan appears to have succeeded in his goal. Aside from the smash ratings and early second-season renewal, fans have praised “Yellowstone.” On Rotten Tomatoes, which collects reviews from critics and regular users and then creates a “fresh” or “rotten” score, “Yellowstone” has an 85 percent approval rating from audiences — though critics have given it a rotten score of only 50 percent.

If you haven’t yet watched “Yellowstone,” it’s a series that’s well worth the time. Costner delivers one of his finest performances to date as a rancher fighting for what many are calling a dying way of life. The cast surrounding him helps create a world that feels as authentic and full to the brim of Americana as Sheridan’s previous work.

Sheridan captures America in a way few artists can in these culturally divided times.

And Sheridan himself is one of the finest American wordsmiths working at the moment. He captures America in a way few artists can in these culturally divided times.

Hollywood stories today often give the cold shoulder to middle America and its citizens — part of the reason Sheridan and his show have found so much success. He’s choosing to tell uniquely American stories that are relatable to a big portion of the country, viewers looking for content exactly like this.

Join the Discussion

COMMENTS POLICY: We have no tolerance for messages of violence, racism, vulgarity, obscenity or other such discourteous behavior. Thank you for contributing to a respectful and useful online dialogue.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments