Saturday, December 10

‘Yellowstone’ Is Not a ‘Red-State Show,’ Says Creator Taylor Sheridan | Entertainment

Ahead of Yellowstone’s fifth season premiere, creator Taylor Sheridan is addressing the perceptions that the Paramount Network drama skews conservative.

In a new interview with The Atlantic, Sheridan says Yellowstone isn’t a “red-state show.”

“They refer to it as ‘the conservative show’ or ‘the Republican show’ or ‘the red-state Game of Thrones,’ ” Sheridan says. “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?”

Taylor Sheridan (Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for WGAw)

The TV producer spoke along similar lines in a 2019 New York Times interview when asked if he thought Emmy voters perceived Yellowstone as a red-state show. “People perceive all my stuff as red state, and it’s the most ridiculous thing,” Sheridan said at the time. “If you truly look at this show or Wind River or Sicario, these are pretty wildly progressive notions. The people who are calling it a red-state show have probably never watched it.”

Sheridan told the Times then that he was “apolitical publicly” and didn’t want to preach to his audience. “But I’m not just going to show you one side,” he added. “I’m going to show you all sides. I happen to think a Native American trying to buy back the land that was stolen from his people, like Gil Birmingham’s tribal-leader character is doing on the show, is historically pretty progressive. And it’s not a fantasy. That is happening.”

Over the years, media pundits have noted conservative leanings in Yellowstone’s storylines. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Brad Newsome said the show “is in effect Trumpism in entertainment form.” Meghan McCain wrote a Daily Mail opinion celebrating that Yellowstone “isn’t woke” and “doesn’t portray the elitist perspective of coastal television writers and where they think America should be going.” And TV Guide’s Liam Mathews declared Yellowstone “a conservative show.”

Other commentators say the show’s politics are harder to define. Forbes’ Howard Homonoff says the show is “hardly a right-wing polemic,” as it “forces you to look at political battles from a variety of perspectives.” And The New York Times’ Tressie McMillan Cottom said it’s “too easy to call [Yellowstone] a conservative show” as the series “thinks it is at war with progress when it is really at war with itself.” And Texas Monthly’s Chris Vognar observes that the show “complicates its politics with progressive elements.”

And Sheridan’s interviewer for The Atlantic, writer Sridhar Pappu, observes that Yellowstone’s ideology includes “anti-capitalist [and] anti-modernist populism, pro-rancher libertarianism, conservative environmentalism … and a sympathetic, pro–Native American revolt of the oppressed.”

“The series isn’t a sop to conservative values, or at least it’s not only that,” Pappu concludes. “What Sheridan is up to is slyer, or maybe just more muddled.”

Yellowstone, Season 5 Premiere, Sunday, November 13, 8/7c, Paramount Network

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