has been a massive success as a modern Western television series, spawning spin-off shows that range in quality. After the tremendous success of the first series, the franchise has expanded into two prequels. The world of was created by Taylor Sheridan, a writer and producer who's been churning out shows for Paramount+, including even more planned spin-offs for his Western universe. Sheridan has developed a reputation as one of the industry's most engaging writers, known for creating gritty, complex characters and exploring real-world social and political issues. The franchise is crafted to offer a mix of classical Western genre ideas with soap opera drama.
, exploring the nature of land and power in the United States, with the prequel shows and examining the occupation and development of that land. The franchise has released seven TV seasons so far, introducing audiences to a world of cowboys, family drama, and political intrigue. Taylor Sheridan has repopularized the previously dormant Western genre in a way that's relevant to the polarizing landscape of 21st-century America. Granted, the quality of Yellowstone franchise shows differs, allowing for a deeper dive into a ranking.
is the second prequel series introduced in the franchise, following the story of the Dutton family during the Prohibition and Great Depression eras. , expertly played by Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford. The prospect of those great castings alone is enough to win viewers over to , and the first season manages to hold its own with its storytelling. While has encouraging potential, season 1 isn't particularly special, with similar story beats to , following the Dutton family contending with rivals seeking after the ranch.
In one season, fails to capture the lightning-in-a-bottle entertainment of lone season or the wider intrigue of . resides somewhere between the two, with the possibility of telling an extensive story that remains more consistent than , as it did have a more effective first installment than the original series. However, after only one season, is the weakest show. It's still a testament to Taylor Sheridan's abilities that the franchise can continue to find new, intriguing voices in different eras, and it will be exciting to see how the series pans out.
is the first prequel to , exploring the Dutton family's rigorous journey north toward their future in Montana. With Tim McGraw and Faith Hill leading the series and Sam Elliott in a supporting role, expectedly offers some of the strongest performances in the franchise. The series also stars the young actress Isabel May in the prominent role of Elsa. Through one season, sees the universe with its highest stakes made immediately apparent as the family finds itself on a perilous frontiersman path, detailing how the Duttons came to claim ownership of the Yellowstone Ranch land.
Elsa is a particular standout, offering the series a fresh perspective. Instead of conflict of power and political intrigue, Elsa offers a unique scope on the Western genre from the viewpoint of a teenage girl. Her spirited and adventurous nature forges a perfect contrast to the horror of frontier America, an idea neatly tied together by .
While is a captivating singular piece of television, it isn't as great as at its peak. The miniseries format doesn't allow the level of exploration into characters and ideas that has over time. offers adventure, excitement, and consistent violence and action, but it lacks the natural development and examination that has, relying too heavily on Elsa's narration to guide the story in its limited run time. Even when considered as a miniseries, ending feels abrupt. There is certainly more story to tell in this era of the Dutton family.
While the original seriescertainly has its low points, it also has the . In five seasons, has been able to explore its characters and the thematic ideas of the franchise in the most depth. Set around Kevin Costner's John Dutton and the modern-era ownership of the Yellowstone ranch, the series offers a great mix of unique personalities and dynamics, over-arching storylines, and thematic exploration.
season 1 isn't the smoothest start to the series, with a slow-paced zigzagging narrative that often felt over the top. However, the prestige performances and vast beauty of the Montana landscape are enough to carry the show to its second season, where it begins to hit its stride. seasons 2 and 3 see the Dutton family and ranch face off against a series of threats to their control, from the violent and vicious Beck Brothers to the behemoth Market Equities corporation. These varying antagonists begin to complicate matters as although the Duttons own more land than anyone deserves, it's clear that there are worse people out there.
follows in the footsteps of shows like or , following a morally complex lead who seems to be building toward his demise. John Dutton would be easy to write off as a bad man, being that he's a wealthy landowner and essentially a criminal. As the series delves deeper into his motives, it becomes clear that he isn't purely evil but rather a man who wants to defend the natural world against modernity. The character is the central question of , creating a framework for thought-provoking television that neither of the prequels has matched.
While the recent seasons of may have audiences feeling dismayed over the decline in quality, the show's ending could prove to make the show's low points worthwhile. A satisfying conclusion could solidify as a great TV series, but it's fair to say that even during its most ridiculous points, has always been entertaining. The series has so many great characters, from the unique personalities of the Dutton family to the humorous and exciting ensemble of supporting ranchers in the bunkhouse. Viewers have grown heavily attached to the inhabitants of the Dutton Ranch, which can be attributed to 's meaningful overarching narrative.