Is “Yellowstone” and its related IP, such as “1923,” a red state show? Or is it leftist ideology wearing the skin of red state culture in order to push leftism and leftist ideas on an unwitting populace? According to “IndieWire,” it’s the latter: Yellowstone, 1923, and the rest of that universe might appeal to red staters, but it’s really just “critical race theory.”
IndieWire gloatingly admitted as much in a mid-February article, arguing that:
“1923” is one of the most progressive shows on TV right now.
That may come as a shock to the many people who think Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” universe is inherently for Red Staters. Sheridan’s burgeoning constellation of Western TV series draws the kind of viewership numbers usually reserved for “NCIS” and other, older-skewing broadcast shows that the critical class usually ignores. “Yellowstone” and its first prequel “1883” are series that largely focus on grizzled white people in 10-gallon hats carrying guns, after all.
Each of the “Yellowstone” series features Native American characters. But “1923” has been startling for the time and the emphasis it’s given to the storyline of Teonna (Aminah Nieves), and what that storyline implies about how historic structural inequities continue to govern outcomes for Indigenous Americans today. It’s “critical race theory,” the term wildly mischaracterized by political opportunists that refers to the idea that racism is embedded in and enforced by laws and institutions, even apparently “colorblind” ones, to ensure inequality is perpetuated. It’s in the DNA of “1923,” and if its primary audience really is conservative, it’s a remarkable Trojan horse packaging of ideas to which that audience desperately needs to be exposed.
After giving examples of how the show shows the supposed exploitation of and miseries inflicted upon the Indians by whites, plotlines that show the program is little more than CTR repackaged in cowboy outfits, the IndieWire piece then argues:
Though Sheridan has sensitively engaged with Native American issues before (especially in his directorial debut “Wind River”), this is something new: It draws an inherent line from the horrors of colonization in the past to the continued injustices Native Americans face today, how a legacy of genocide continues to structure their contemporary struggles. The government’s neglect, its allowance of predatory forces to exploit Native lives, can be as dangerous as anything. Witness the lack of a real law enforcement response in the U.S. over decades to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, a group that a study from the National Congress of American Indians found is 2.5 times as likely to be victims of violent crime than any other demographic.
“1923” viscerally brings to life the context for today’s injustices that “Murder in Big Horn” describes. In drawing such a connection between past and present, Sheridan’s show has smuggled in a much-needed dose of critical race theory, the term demonized so doggedly by the American right in recent vintage. It even makes you think of how the Dutton family’s success at the heart of “Yellowstone” and “1923” is owed to the Indigenous land, taken away from Indigenous people, that they call their property.
Though many on the right and the left have insisted that Yellowstone is a red-state show, the creator of the show disagrees. In an interview with the Atlantic released in that publication’s December 2022 Issue, the creator of Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan, rejected the idea that
“They refer to it as ‘the conservative show’ or ‘the Republican show’ or ‘the red-state Game of Thrones.’ And I just sit back laughing. I’m like, ‘Really?’ The show’s talking about the displacement of Native Americans and the way Native American women were treated and about corporate greed and the gentrification of the West and land-grabbing. That’s a red-state show?”
Just months after he said that about the hit show, it’s reportedly drawing to a close because Sheridan and Costner are butting heads and the network wants to move to spinoffs. We reported as much on the American Tribune, saying:
Paramount’s Wild West drama “Yellowstone” has been a roaring success that propelled show creator Taylor Sheridan into the public eye, but reports indicate that star actor Kevin Costner may soon be done with the franchise.
A Deadline report says that the duo of Paramount and Sheridan are planning to end the story of Yellowstone in a spectacular way, before transitioning into even more spinoffs than have already been aired. One such spinoff has even been rumored to include Matthew McConaughey.
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