Yellowstone is an American neo-western drama series from Paramount Network, first released in 2018. The heartland series received mixed reviews in its first season but soon garnered a large fanbase. It has now become one of the most-watched series on the network.
Yellowstone primarily follows the lives of the Dutton family, who own the largest ranch in Montana, the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. The farm shares its border with the neighboring Broken Rock Indian Reservation, a place designated for the Native American tribe.
The series tells a story of a conflict between the Duttons and the Native American tribe, who consider the ranch land stolen from their ancestors. Meanwhile, Dan Jenkins, a billionaire developer, is trying to take over the ranch for re-development.
After four highly successful seasons, Yellowstone dropped the fifth season on November 13, 2022. The story continues from the events of last season, with John Dutton taking on the responsibilities as the newly appointed Governor of Montana. Fresh episodes are released weekly, every Sunday at 8:00 pm ET, on Paramount.
The riders, the horses, and the ranch - 5 exciting things you may not have known about Yellowstone
1) You can book a stay at the Yellowstone Ranch
Yellowstone is a cowboy drama characterized by a lush green landscape, majestic horses, cowboys, and the iconic ranch they call home. Over the last four seasons, the titular ranch has become as familiar to audiences as it is to the Duttons.
The location is not a set created for the show. This is a real ranch that is fully functional. The iconic ranch is known as the Chief Joseph Ranch and is located in Darby (Ravalli county), Montana. Named after the Nez Perce Chief, who led his people across the land in 1877, the ranch is packed with history.
The best part is that audiences can book a stay at this iconic property. The owners list two properties that can be rented for a brief stay on the Yellowstone ranch. However, an expensive feat, staying here would grant access to the Yellowstone set, otherwise off-limits to the public.
2) The real and reel riders
Yellowstone retains the soul of the Western and focuses on cowboys as central pieces of its storyline. It is essentially the story of a farming family struggling to hold on to their land. The production hired real-life cowboys to capture the raw sentiments and nuances of the cowboy lifestyle. This grants the show a greater degree of authenticity.
Show creator Taylor Sheridan grew up on a ranch similar to the one in the series. Actors like Jake Ream, Ryan Bingham, Ethan Lee, and Forrie J. Smith are all real-life cowboys with experience working on a ranch. Kelly Reilly, who plays a crucial character in the Dutton family, Bethany Dutton, is the best rider in the crew.
The production unit organized a 'cowboy camp' to guide all crew members before filming began. Their goal was to get everyone on the same page about the lifestyle and cultural norms.
3) The horses are famous as well
As countless Westerns over the years have shown, horses play a significant role in exemplifying the life of a cowboy. Similarly, one of the most notable aspects of Yellowstone is the cast of horses. These elegant beasts are characters in their own right. They even have a decent fan following among supporters of the series.
Most of the horses are owned by Sheridan and have unique real-life names, unlike the mundane ones they have on screen. Two are called Dun It Chexinic and Walla Walla Starbuck. The others are rodeo champions and are also regionally famous. They are called Metallic Cat, Metallic Memory, Lil Joe Cash, Smartly Starstruck, and Nineteen Teen.
4) HBO's missed a goldmine when they declined the series
It is no secret that Yellowstone has grown to become one of the largest shows on network TV. With viewership crossing 10 million, it is safe to assume this is a flagship series for Paramount. However, HBO was close to acquiring the title.
Sheridan began working on the title in 2013, and Yellowstone was initially supposed to be a 10-episode limited series. He had approached a senior executive at HBO but was rejected. After years in development, Sheridan signed a deal with Paramount for a 10-episode season, which was released in June 2018.
Yellowstone has also inspired several spinoffs. 1883 is the franchise's first spinoff, a prequel to the main storyline, portraying how the Duttons came to own the Yellowstone ranch. Three more spinoffs are already in the works - 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, 1923, and 6666. It seems Paramount has a lot in mind regarding this show.
5) A plotless show that topped the charts
Yellowstone was first released to a mixed response in 2018 but has grown steadily in popularity and viewership. According to TV Guide, it is the most-watched scripted show on cable, only being topped by Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football.
In an interview with Deadline, Sheridan stated that the series does not have a solid plotline.
"It's basically, I own a bunch of stinkin' land, and a bunch of people want to take it."
But the "plotless" show has become an American phenomenon and propelled Sheridan to become one of the most valuable creators in the industry.