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Yellowstone's Taylor Sheridan Thinks Breaking Story Norms Is Why Critics Haven't Warmed Up To The Show

Taylor Sheridan's Paramount Network drama "Yellowstone" follows the Dutton family, owners of a massive ranch in Montana who fight every foe that tries to take their land away from them. While primarily a neo-Western, the show has gained immense popularity from its ability to blend genres. While dramatic and violent, the show also isn't afraid to lean into soapy twists or even romance, as Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) and Rip Wheeler's (Cole Hauser) steady and loving courtship (and eventual marriage) has become a huge draw for audiences.

Sheridan's formula has clearly worked, for "Yellowstone's" ratings have grown with nearly every season. Its Season 5 premiere bested the Season 4 premiere (via Variety), meanwhile the Season 4 premiere had already grown from the previous season (via Deadline).

Yet, one thing that has eluded "Yellowstone" is critical recognition. Despite the show being a massive hit, it isn't written about as much as other shows, especially ones that are industry darlings. Despite receiving a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Drama Ensemble in 2022, the show did not manage to capitalize on the awards momentum for the Emmys, where many believe the show and its performances were snubbed. This has not bothered the cast, as they believe that reaching a large audience has been more important.

Regardless, Sheridan recently shared his thoughts on this, suggesting that the reasons why critics haven't embraced the show also may be the reasons why it is so popular with audiences.

Taylor Sheridan believes critics haven't taken to Yellowstone because of his unconventional storytelling

"Yellowstone's" success has allowed Taylor Sheridan to expand its universe with two prequels, "1883" and "1923." Speaking with The New York Times about the "Yellowstone" universe, he commented on why he believes the show that started it all hasn't become a critical darling, despite its immense popularity and the passion its viewers have for the storylines. "I think one of the reasons the critics haven't responded to 'Yellowstone' is that I'm breaking a lot of story rules. I'll jump the plot ahead for no reason whatsoever except that I wanted to and it's entertaining," he said. Sheridan added, "The people who get it eat it up, and the people that try to look at it with a critical eye see a mess."

It's this blend of genres that he loves about the show, including how it can move "from being campy to melodramatic to intensely dramatic to violent." According to Sheridan, this meshes together the way old Westerns were made with how the new ones are done. He admits however that this "infuriates and confounds some people who study storytelling," baffling them as to why the show has built such a large audience.

But none of this bothers Sheridan, who sees "Yellowstone" as a love letter to a certain way of life, made for people who also appreciate it. "I don't care if critics hate it and I don't care if they like it ... I'm not making it for them; I'm making it for people who live that life," he said.