A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Yellowstone is a Western miniseries about a Montana ranch owner trying to maintain his way of life. There are lots of guns and rifles, animals and people are shot dead (bloody wounds are sometimes visible), and men are branded with a hot iron. Depictions of sexuality include simulated sex acts and partial nudity (partial breasts, buttocks). Like the classic Westerns it's influenced by, this series also has lots of cursing, drinking, and smoking, and lots of corrupt behavior.
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What's the story?
YELLOWSTONE is a dramatic miniseries about John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his fight to preserve his way of life on a ranch in Montana. Dutton controls everything that happens on Yellowstone Ranch, and does everything he can to control what happens around it. When developers like Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) attempt to modernize the area, Dutton relies on his insider connections with town, city, and state officials, and enlists the help of son Jamie (Wes Bentley), the family lawyer, and his ruthless daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly). Meanwhile, he worries that his oldest son, Lee (David Annable), is incapable of fully managing the ranch, especially now that the tension between their family and the nearby reservation, headed up by tribal governor Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham), is escalating. The growing conflict is also putting the patriarch's youngest son, Cory (Luke Grimes), his Native American wife, Monica (Kelsey Asbille), and their son in a very difficult position. What follows is a series of events that will either lead to the continued success of the ranch, or to its eventual downfall.
Is it any good?
This mildly entertaining series intertwines traditional Wild West conflicts and contemporary themes to create a complicated modern story set against a rugged backdrop. Ranchers feud with the Native American community over land and cattle, locals struggle to keep urban expansion at bay, and folks take the law into their own hands to settle disputes -- and then there are the personal struggles the individual Dutton children have in their own lives, including the predictable issues they have with their father.
There's constant turmoil, but Yellowstone doesn't offer a clear picture of whose side the audience should be taking. John Dutton is only fairly likable, and is stopped by little when protecting his own interests. His children aren't particularly amiable or ethical, nor are many of the other characters. Viewers who tune in may find the family drama interesting enough, but if you're looking for a good contemporary spin on a classic Western, this isn't it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about power. What are some different ways people exercise power and settle disputes throughout the series? Are the tactics used to resolve conflicts appropriate, even if people believe it is for a nobler cause?
Yellowstone is heavily influenced by classic Hollywood Westerns. Do you think it's a Western itself? Or is it a dramatic series that happens to have cowboys and Native Americans in it? What's the difference?
For kids who love Westerns
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