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Not A Fan Of Yellowstone? Here's Why You'd Love Tulsa King

Writer/director and cameoing cowboy Taylor Sheridan is getting so many green lights from Paramount, they'll be chiseling his face into their mountainside. With three different eras of the Dutton family being explored in "Yellowstone," "1883," and "1923," the star writer, whose career shot to new levels after "Sicario" and "Wind River," is still riding high with his cowboy-cornered dynasty. While it might all be a bit daunting for those that don't know their Rip Wheelers from their Shea Brennans, all three shows carry a different tone to each other, with "Yellowstone" leading the pack as it continues its fifth season. Regardless of the hype around this massive TV franchise, some that aren't fans of the Western genre might struggle to dig their Stetsons into "Yellowstone," let alone its spin-offs.

That's alright, as that's not the only Sheridan-penned story available. Another show has just finished its first season, which impressively takes everything audiences might not click with in "Yellowstone" and turns it on its head. Like Kevin Costner sitting at the head of the Dutton dining table, it's a series with a big screen icon leading the charge, but doing so in a schlocky, unapologetic fashion. Taking itself nowhere near as seriously as Sheridan's other shows that dance on the line of ridiculousness, this one crowns itself as a weekly dose of escapism that's not afraid to poke fun at itself. It's the Sylvester Stallone-starring "Tulsa King," and it might be in line for the televisual throne.

Tulsa King is in the wrong era in the right way

Making its debut last year, "Tulsa King" sees Sylvester Stallone as Dwight "The General" Manfredi, a Mafia Captain who, after 25 years in prison, is quietly pushed out of the business and sent to Tulsa, Oklahoma to set up shop there. Feeling understandably shunned but set on making something with what's given to him, The General heads out to the Sooner State to make his own empire with the scraps he's been given. What follows is a classic fish-out-of-water tale that takes a swing at the likes of "Lillyhammer" and "My Cousin Vinny," as Stallone is the sharp suit-wearing Capo who wouldn't be caught dead in a cowboy hat but is willing to punch anyone who looks at him wrong in one.

So begins a perfect balance of Sheridan's wild western plot points merging with co-writer Terrence Winter (of "The Sopranos")'s handling of criminal capers. With biker gangs, weed farms, and affairs with the law, there's never a dull moment for Manfredi, even before his old work colleagues come calling. The great thing about it all, unlike "Yellowstone," is that the chain of events in "Tulsa King" is handled with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, resting on Stallone's still-enormous shoulders and charm to make some of its most ludicrous moments tolerable. It's the kind of territory his career thrived on in his golden era, something that the Costner-starring drama often struggles to maintain.

Sylvester Stallone is a better fit in Tulsa King than Kevin Costner is in Yellowstone

Award-worthy turns or not, there's something about Kevin Costner as John Dutton that sometimes doesn't quite stick when things go bad. In the event of him having to get his hands dirty, he's as sinister as much as he is a legendary Montanan outlaw. However, Costner has never really had it in him to be truly bad. There's always a code or an air of decency, making him almost (ahem) untouchable. For any other Dutton family member, or Cole Hauser's cold-blooded enforcer Rip Wheeler, it's believable watching these men do bad things, but that isn't the case with Costner. The man can do no wrong, even when he is. However, it's a very different story for Stallone on the other bruised and busted hand.

After having a career comprised of Rocky Balboa, John Rambo, and a host of other action heroes, it's almost compulsory for Stallone to stand toe-to-toe with someone before putting them through a wall. It's also no surprise when he's just a genuinely charming guy, talking to Tulsa locals in a fashion not too dissimilar to the Italian Stallion. Being the likable lug hasn't left Stallone, and he carries it in his new show just as easily, both before and after he turns threatening, which is something to look forward to whenever the "Tulsa King" returns.

Tulsa King has ended on a stronger first season than Yellowstone

Often, a statement gets thrown about with certain TV shows that could immediately put a potential viewer off it. "It gets better after Season X. Stick with it." No show fits the bill better than "Yellowstone." The first season unraveled with dinosaur bone discoveries, meth lab explosions, and bear attacks following failed rescue missions. It was absolutely bonkers and yet still skirted over by the stone-faced cast that was a part of it all. It suffered critically as a result, with its debut season earning only a Rotten Tomatoes score of 55%. Sure, it may have picked up since. Still, it says a lot that, comparatively," Tulsa King" rocked up with a score of 78% on the site and was greenlit for a second season before the first one had barely got going.

Stallone is praised for applying his charm to a character totally out of his depth, but one consistent highlight for viewers was the comedic chops the show also has available. Watching the still imposing Sly get high off his own supply (say that two times fast) or teach his motley crew how to handle themselves is the sort of thing that might make its appearance in "Yellowstone," but there it does so with a stoic perspective that "Tulsa King" doesn't plan on replicating. 

In the end, if you don't like the Dutton's dark and brooding family going to work on outsiders and sometimes themselves, then Stallone's show is the lighter watch worth spending time with, and that second season can't come quick enough. Long live the king.