‘Yellowstone’ Review: Kevin Costner Leads a First-Rate Cast in This Compelling Drama

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Yellowstone TV Show Review

Dave Annable, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, and Kevin Costner star in ‘Yellowstone’ (Photo Credit: Paramount Network)

Paramount Network’s set to premiere Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner on June 20, 2018 at 9pm ET/PT. The network’s latest entry into scripted series has a Dallas vibe to it and features characters just as dysfunctional and conflicted as J.R. and his brood.

Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves) plays the patriarch of the wealthy Dutton ranching family, owners of the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. The Duttons are embroiled in land disputes with the government, Native Americans, and outside interlopers looking to develop rural Montana into a high-end tourist destination. These disputes drive the first few episodes’ storylines, providing a backdrop to introduce the family at the heart of the one-hour drama.

Widower John Dutton (Costner) rules the massive ranch with an iron fist. Two of his three sons – Jamie (Wes Bentley) and Lee (Dave Annable) – are actively involved in either the actual running of the ranch or in defending it from political and legal attacks. His other son, Kayce (Luke Grimes), has freed himself from his father’s grasp, marrying a Native American and living on the reservation that borders the Dutton ranch.


Beth (Kelly Reilly) is the sole female in this male-dominated ranching world. Beth is a ruthless straight-talker, unbound by the constraints that tamper the actions of either lawyer Jamie or the more kindhearted Lee. She’s casually cruel and unapologetic.

Power, greed, entitlement…in so many ways Yellowstone resembles previous primetime series set in the world of influential wealthy families. However, the tone is different as is the approach to creating the protagonists and antagonists. There’s much more grey area in Yellowstone, and the characters are not confined to any particular box.

Yellowstone was created by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Taylor Sheridan who writes and directs the show’s first season. The very beat-specific style of Yellowstone is also evident in Sheridan’s scripts for Hell or High Water and Wind River. Sheridan is able to create multi-layered characters without resorting to intrusive exposition to reveal what makes the central players tick.

Yellowstone’s visually impressive and features a first-rate cast led by Oscar winner Kevin Costner. Bentley, Grimes, Annable, and Reilly are terrific as the Dutton siblings, and Danny Huston and Gil Birmingham deliver standout performances as the senior Dutton’s primary foes. Birmingham worked with Sheridan on both Hell or High Water and Wind River, and with Yellowstone Sheridan provides Birmingham another complex character to sink his teeth into. Cole Hauser also plays a major supporting role as Rip Wheeler, one of John Dutton’s right-hand men who’s unfailingly loyal and merciless when enforcing John’s instructions.

Taylor Sheridan has created a compelling primetime drama filled with intriguing characters. After screening three episodes, I find the interactions between Dutton family members far more interesting than the multiple battles the family wage against outside forces attempting to erode their stronghold on the Montana landscape. That could change moving forward as the supporting characters and their motivations become better defined.

GRADE: B+

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