Taylor Sheridan expanded his Yellowstone-verse last year with 1883, a prequel about the Dutton family moving west. Now Sheridan is back with 1923, a star-laden saga which continues the story of the Duttons and the Yellowstone Ranch. But there’s still a big gap in time between 1883 and 1923—and an even bigger one between 1923 and Yellowstone. Here’s some background on the newest spin-off and what we can expect:
- 1923 stars Hollywood legends Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren as Jacob and Cara Dutton, the current proprietors of the Yellowstone Ranch.
- This is the first time Ford and Helen Mirren have been on screen together since 1986’s The Mosquito Coast.
- 1923 is creator and producer Taylor Sheridan’s fifth series on Paramount/Paramount+, following Yellowstone, Mayor Of Kingstown, 1883, and Tulsa King. He’s like the new Shonda Rhimes, but with a distinctly Western flavor.
- The new series will cover Montana’s post-World War I era, including the Flu Pandemic, the Depression, and Prohibition.
- Historical note: The Depression hit Montana about 10 years earlier than the rest of the country, but it was also the first state to repeal Prohibition in 1926.
- 1923 debuts exclusively on Paramount+ on Sunday, December 18, with the first of eight episodes. The second episode airs on January 1, 2023, and the remaining will be released weekly.
1923 begins 40 years after the Dutton’s arrival in Montana and, according to a flashback scene in season four of Yellowstone, 30 years after patriarch James Dutton’s death in 1893. 1923 chronicles the lives of the next generation of the Dutton family.
Jacob Dutton is James Dutton’s brother, and Cara is his Irish-born wife. To put it in perspective—and amid much debate—Jacob and Cara are the great-great-great uncle and aunt of the “current” John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner. And just to let you know: There are a lot of John Duttons, so it can be a little hard to keep track. Jacob and Cara don’t have children of their own. They are parental figures to James and Margaret’s surviving children, John Sr. (who has a son, John Jr., called Jack) and Spencer, played respectively by James Badge Dale (The Departed, Iron Man 3) and Brandon Sklenar (Westworld, Vice). The heir and the spare, so to speak, are also very involved in the running of the ranch.
In the teaser trailer, there’s a voiceover by Elsa Dutton, James and Margaret’s daughter, who died in the finale of 1883. “Violence has always haunted the Dutton family … where it doesn’t follow, we hunt it down. We seek it.” Subsequent trailers detail the troubles the Dutton family faced in the early 20th century: Drought, looming poverty, cattle theft, and East Coast interlopers attempting to take their land, as the Duttons threaten, shoot, and kill to protect their property rights and defend their family. So, not much is different from what’s happening with the Yellowstone ranch now. As “our” John Dutton frequently points out, the struggle is real and ongoing.
More specifically, the biggest threat comes from Donald Whitfield, the evil East Coast transplant. Played by Timothy Dalton (The Crown, License To Kill) with mustache-twirling intensity, he owns the Stratford ranch next to the Yellowstone. But, as he tells a cohort, “I want the whole valley!” History says he will fail, but it should be interesting to find out how.
Banner Creighton, played by Patrick Flynn, last seen as Bronn in Game Of Thrones, is another antagonist. Creighton is a Scottish immigrant and leader of the local sheep farmers who clashes with Jacob and Cara over the Duttons’ methods.
Like the previous Yellowstone series, 1923 will also explore the lives of local Native Americans at the time. Aminah Nieves plays Teonna Rainwater, most likely related to Yellowstone’s Chief Thomas Rainwater. Here, she is a young girl forced to attend one of the abusive re-education boarding schools for indigenous children that were widespread in the Western territories at that time.
Other familiar faces in the cast include Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, Peacemaker), who plays local sheriff William McDowell. Sebastian Roché (Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries), Jennifer Ehle (She Said, Pride And Prejudice), and Kerry O’Malley (Snowpiercer) play the priest and nuns who run the boarding school that Teonna Rainwater attends.
Since Elsa provided the voiceover for 1883, we wonder if that appearance means she’ll be doing the same for this sequel or if the teaser trailer was a one-off.
There’s also the mystery surrounding what happened to Margaret Dutton between 1893 and 1923. When and how did Jacob and Cara take over the ranch and the care of her two sons? And where were they living before that? We’re confident that these questions will be answered in time, though.
1883 was an extremely popular show, averaging 4.9 million viewers in its first season, but why be satisfied with that? Taylor Sheridan and Paramount+ are making a calculated bet that if you didn’t sign up for the streaming service to watch Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, you will for Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, who seem like the perfect pair to portray the next generation of Dutton anti-heroes.
If you’re a fan of the Yellowstone franchise, this looks like a must-see regardless. Sheridan is often criticized for the incredibly unrealistic scenes in some of his scripts (*ahem* the Secret Service shooting pet dogs) and for his woman characters who are brilliant and sexy but only have three emotional gears—sad, angry or horny.
What’s interesting about Sheridan’s storytelling is his non-traditional approach to the Western genre. Say what you will about his perceived conservatism, but he’s not afraid to tell the brutal truth of how the West was won, built, and held, or the physical and emotional costs for everyone involved. The white settlers are constantly fighting with each other for the land and with the land for survival. The native population they stole that land from is first slaughtered, then displaced and disregarded, always. That’s how it was, and how it still is today. Rinse off the blood and repeat. We’re curious to see how this all plays out in this new Yellowstone origin story.