“Yellowstone” is a masterfully crafted slow burn, yet drama-packed, TV series with three series available on XYZ that highlights and attempts to capture the clash, and sometimes collaboration, between ranchers, Native American communities, and big businesses trying to develop the land of rural Montana.
John Dutton (Kevin Costner), a rancher that owns the massive Yellowstone ranch in Montana, fights every day of his life alongside his family to protect his ranch and his legacy from those trying to take it away from him. Chairman Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) of the Broken Rock Reservation seeks to restore the land to the way it used to be before white settlers took it from its native people. Throughout the show, varying outside business people attempt to turn the Montana valley into tourist sites, bringing the city people into the valley, and causing the way of life that Dutton and Rainwater both fight to preserve, though historically for different reasons, to die out.
The leaders in “Yellowstone” are always being posed with new and fearsome threats, forcing them to make tough decisions that if made incorrectly could cause the devastation of their goal. As these leaders continually fight for what they believe in, every decision allows the viewer to contemplate whether or not they would make the same choice or a different one, which makes the show incredibly engaging, educational and enjoyable to watch in groups.
Additionally, the dynamic between the Native American community, the ranchers and business, and government organizations depict and shed light on the struggle of inequity and what it is like to live on a reservation for many Native American communities not only in Montana but throughout the United States.
As well as the incredibly designed plot and very deliberate script, the scenery of Montana and the relationship between land, animals, and humans is a central theme of this show in which the animal plays an extremely important role symbolically and literally for the Dutton family and ranchers like them as well as the Native American community.
In the end, “Yellowstone” is a show that tells a story that everyone, especially people from the city who have not been exposed to rural America, should watch, listen to and think about. TV is often a gateway to broader societal discussions, and this show has sparked discussion on Native American representation and oppression in America and, specifically, in the media. Although one of the main characters who were Native American in the show was actually Chinese-European, the majority of the characters who were Native American in the show were representing their own culture which is an important step in the right direction, but more representation not only in terms of who is acting but the topic itself is really needed. Though “Yellowstone” as an artwork will be tough to beat, more big-budget, well-advertised TV shows should also share the story of Native American communities, and these shows should be watched, celebrated, and talked about. “Yellowstone” is a must-see.