Taylor Sheridan Isn’t Exactly Flattered By All Those ‘Yellowstone’ Knockoffs

Taylor Sheridan brought the western back to television and proceeded to strike gold with Yellowstone. The native Texan grew up on a ranch and is a cowboy in his own right, which is what makes his series so authentic. But the same can’t be said for all of those Yellowstone knockoffs, which is why Sheridan isn’t exactly flattered by them.

Taylor Sheridan in a white button down and black jacket poses as he attends the world premiere of ‘Yellowstone’ spinoff ‘1883’ at Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Taylor Sheridan | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Taylor Sheridan knew Montana ‘very well’ when he wrote ‘Yellowstone’

Sheridan says that for him, a sense of place “is so incredibly important.” So when he wrote Yellowstone, he went to Montana to experience the location. And now he knows it “very well.”

Kevin Costner (John Dutton) says that authenticity was evident in the Yellowstone pilot script, and he was sold on the project after his first read.

“I saw that the dialogue had a fun, realistic approach to it. It was raw. It was dysfunctional,” Costner told Variety. “And it was set against the backdrop of mountains and rivers and valleys and people on horseback, which is very appealing.”

Sheridan’s producing partner David Glasser says that Sheridan is “the real deal.” And that’s part of what makes his shows so good.

“His word is his bond. Loyalty is everything, and then the handshake means something. That’s who he is. And as long as you operate in that world, it’s great. And creatively, he blows my mind every single time.”

The ‘Yellowstone’ creator isn’t exactly flattered by the knockoffs

Sheridan has cowboying in his blood. He owns and operates two ranches, and was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2021. He’s also written every episode of Yellowstone — which tells the story of rancher John Dutton and his family’s fight for their land. And he’s an actor on the series as horse trader Travis Wheatley.

The TV universe that Sheridan has built has sparked a western genre renaissance on TV. CW launched the Walker, Texas Ranger reboot starring Jared Padalecki. And Amazon just debuted Outer Range starring Josh Brolin, which is a western with a sci-fi theme.

There’s also a new pilot from NBC titled Unbroken, about three rival rancher families in California. And Fox is developing a TV version of the film Hell or High Water — which Sheridan wrote the screenplay for. But, he’s not involved in that project.

Obviously, other networks are wanting to duplicate the success of Yellowstone at the Paramount Network. But Sheridan’s not impressed, or flattered.

“So I don’t know that it’s flattering, because I don’t think they’re doing it because Yellowstone is good,” Sheridan says. “They’re doing it because 15 million people watch it. And they’re like: ‘A lot of people watch Westerns. Let’s make Westerns.’”

Taylor Sheridan was influenced by writers, not just his upbringing

Being raised on a ranch in Texas had a major influence on Sheridan. But he says he was also very influenced by writers like Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtry, and Toni Morrison when it comes to the western genre (Morrison wrote about the mid-19th century, with similar themes). He was also influenced by certain films.

“In terms of the movies that influenced me, it was watching Unforgiven when I was in my late teens or very early 20s. The same with Dances With Wolves, where you’re looking at the western genre through a whole new lens that had never been explored before.”

Sheridan believes that authenticity has been a key factor to success. However, he believes “any other artist could decide to go through and take the genre and turn it on its ear.”

“You don’t have to do what I did,” Sheridan says.

Yellowstone season 5 will premiere this summer on the Paramount Network.

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