‘Yellowstone’ Season 1: 9 Things New Fans Need to Know (No Spoilers)
There's finally a free way to watch Yellowstone. Season 1 of the Western drama is set to begin on CBS, which is great news for those who longed to watch, but didn't want to spend money on another streaming provider or cable television.
The first season of Yellowstone aired throughout summer 2018 on Paramount Network. The audience was impressive, but not yet massive as the show earned rave reviews for the acting, plot and authenticity.
Three-and-a-half additional seasons followed, but a pause in production (details below) created a programming void on CBS that the network's parent company was happy to fill with what has become one of the top-rated shows on all of television.
If you're watching for the very first time, here are the nuts and bolts of the show, with no spoilers.
What Is Yellowstone About?
Yellowstone follows John Dutton and his family as they try to preserve their sprawling Yellowstone cattle ranch in Montana. It's constantly under attack — sometimes literally — from developers, the government and wildlife activists who hope to carve out a slice for their own personal gain. Native Americans also long to reclaim land they feel is their birthright.
The Dutton way often works outside the law. The family isn't afraid to intimidate or even murder its adversaries, which sets up a fascinating moral conflict. Sometimes, the villains aren't the bad guys.
Interpersonal relationships between John Dutton and his children and others working on the ranch also drive the drama. Beth Dutton is the show's most controversial character — it's because of her that the Dutton Rules podcast described Yellowstone as not just a soap opera on steroids, but a soap opera in a 'roid rage.
Yellowstone Season 1 Primary Cast and Characters:
John Dutton (played by Kevin Costner) is the main character and patriarch of the family. He has four grown children, but at the start of the season their mother's identity and whereabouts are unknown.
Lee Dutton (Dave Annable) is the oldest of the four and the presumptive heir to the ranch. In addition to working on the ranch, he's part of a law enforcement agency called the Montana Livestock Association. Think of them as F.B.I. for animal and farming affairs.
Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) is second-oldest. He's a lawyer who works in the Montana District Attorney's office, but also represents the family's affairs. Jamie is smart and rational, but often seen as weak and incompetent by members of his family.
Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) is the only Dutton daughter. She's single, but has something of an on-again, off-again relationship with Rip Wheeler, one of the bunkhouse boys. At the onset of Season 1 she lives in Utah and works as a kind of muscleman for for an investment firm called Schwartz and Meyer. Beth is an unforgiving and aggressive negotiator, but forever loyal to her father.
Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) is the youngest Dutton and the only son who doesn't live on the ranch. Instead, he lives on the Broken Rock Reservation with his wife Monica Long (Kelsey Asbille) and their young son Tate Dutton (Brecken Merrill). Kayce doesn't engage with his family affair's at the start of the show and is something of a black sheep, although it's not clear until much later if that's of his own making or by design.
Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) is John Dutton's muscle man and the leader of the bunkhouse. He's strong and ruthless when he needs to be, but also clear-headed about the job and his role.
Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) is the newly-elected CEO of the Broken Rock Reservation, the Indian reservation that neighbors the Yellowstone Ranch. He wants the land back and is willing to stir the pot to get it.
Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) is a land developer with Paradise Valley, a group looking to build a residential community next to the Dutton property.
Yellowstone on CBS: Air Date and Times:
Yellowstone Season 1 premieres on CBS on Sept. 17 at 8:30PM ET, or after 60 Minutes. A two-hour premiere will mostly likely feature the Ep. 1, which is more than 90 minutes long before commercials. Ep. 2 will follow the next Sunday.
Season 1 includes nine episodes, and most are a traditional 40 to 50 minutes long. How many episodes air on any given Sunday depends on if CBS is carrying one or two NFL games that day. It's also not a given that Season 2 will air on CBS.
This could truly be a stop-gap that the network will abandon as soon as possible. The good news there is ...
Why Is Yellowstone on CBS?
CBS is going to be without new scripted dramas for awhile. The Hollywood writers and Screen Actor's Guild strikes halted production on all television shows and movies. This means that even when the strike is settled, it will be several weeks or even months before production resumes and new content is delivered.
Yellowstone could prove to be too valuable to CBS to punt on. It was the No. 1 non-streaming scripted show in America last season, and that was on Paramount Network. It's not hard to imagine just as many people tuning in to CBS for the very first time as there are fans enjoying the re-watch.
S1E1 nabbed a shade under three million viewers, compared to nearly 10 million for S5E1. Did all of those seven million people in between go back to catch up with streaming reruns? That's not likely. A regular audience that nears what new episodes on Paramount were drawing would top nearly every other show on television.
What About Yellowstone Season 5 and Season 6?
The strikes aren't necessarily bad news for the future of Yellowstone. Earlier this year, fans learned that Kevin Costner was leaving the show, and that Season 5 Part 2 (originally set for this summer) would be the final season.
Since then, we've learned that disputes between Costner, Paramount and Taylor Sheridan are mostly about time and money — two things that are forever negotiable if all sides are willing to compromise. Costner's divorce and an expensive movie called Horizon aren't doing his bank account any favors. We're just saying that even though everyone says Season 5 Pt. 2 (timetable TBD) is it, there's a path to more.