Kate Rice


Have you ever watched a show that you both loved and hated? A show so entertaining that you’re dying to know what’ll happen next, but the entire time you’re watching, you’re feeling disturbed and/or yelling at the screen? That’s me watching Yellowstone

My friend and I finally jumped on the (very crowded) Yellowstone bandwagon, and we’re only about halfway through the second season (out of 4.5 currently available).  

For those who haven’t been lured into creator Taylor Sheridan’s tangled web of Dutton family drama, Yellowstone revolves around this absurdly powerful Montana ranch family and those who have the misfortune of getting sucked into their orbit. Seriously, there’s not one character that I can totally get behind, because honestly, most of ‘em shoulda been drowned at birth. I’ll say this, though: they might not be likeable, but they’ve got depth. The writing’s fantastic, and the acting is superb. And as despicable as they are, Sheridan shows us why they’re the way they are. 

There’s patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner). Depending on the moment, he’s the man: in charge of the world (his world, anyway), dealing with health issues, forever missing his long-deceased wife or doting on his (so far) only grandson. 

Dutton heirs include son Jamie (Wes Bentley), an attorney with political aspirations and daddy issues; daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly), a businesswoman with more toxic masculinity than any dude on this show (and that’s saying a lot) and daddy issues; and youngest son Kayce (Luke Grimes), a veteran, ranch hand, husband and father — with daddy issues.

Others in the Dutton orbit are Kayce’s wife, Monica (Kelsey Asbille), and young son, Tate (Brecken Merrill). So far, they haven’t proven to be super-toxic, but hey — I’m only in season two, so who knows if the Dutton stank’ll rub off on them too?

Then there’s Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), who’s probably more like a son to John Dutton than his actual sons, though if that’s true, I’d say Rip also has — you guessed it — daddy issues. He’s a fabulous ranch hand, he’s been in love with Beth since they were both kids, and he definitely gets the raw end of being loyal to John Dutton. 

Other standouts? Jimmy Hurdstrom (Jefferson White), a former drug dude who’s now just a ranch “dude” struggling with riding, roping, and being one of the Dutton’s in-it-for-life ranch hands. Dutton rivals Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston). And John Dutton’s “special friend” Governor Lynelle Perry (Wendy Moniz). Politics, and the inability to move past tragedy, make strange bedfellows…

Bottom line? Yellowstone is “train wreck” TV — I don’t always love what’s happening onscreen, but I just can’t look away. It’s always engaging. Still, there’s not a character on here that I’d wanna be friends with, let alone model my behavior after. These characters aren’t role models, they’re cautionary tales! An entire family/community manipulating and/or killing someone just because they feel they’ve been “wronged” in some way is not OK, people! I’m super-disturbed that Taylor Sheridan writes so cavalierly about this sort of thing. It’s like he thinks that out West, you have rich, entitled jackholes or victims. I find that pretty insulting. I’m not saying these things don’t exist, but his vision of western life seems pretty narrow. By the way, anyone who loves this show but makes fun of Soap Operas? I’ve got news for you…

Stream Yellowstone on Paramount+ or search for other paid streaming options, then settle in for the ride of your life. Just don’t aspire to be a Dutton. Please.