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Yellowstone Makes It Difficult To Root For Anyone (Except For Jimmy)

Five seasons in, the grip that the Dutton family has on fans doesn't look to be slipping from fans any time soon. "Yellowstone" is still the crowning family jewel in Taylor Sheridan's saga, which now stretches across decades — which makes it all the clearer when history seems to be repeating itself. One common thread is that the characters ... well, they're just not great people, are they? We get it. Everyone loves an antihero, and shades of gray are the new black. But as the cast goes about their dirty business, haven't we reached a point where we should have somebody to root for?

You won't find that in the Dutton crowd. All except one person, that is. 

Since the beginning, between the murders, corruption, and the near-criminal number of cattle shots that Sheridan loves to show, one character has always shown promise. Even though he might be branded with the Dutton seal of approval, Jimmy Hurdstram (Jefferson White) didn't really stick to it, and was better off as a result. The former stable hand managed to avoid the dark paths so many other characters had found themselves on, and in doing so, ended up riding off into the sunset. So, what was it that made Jimmy so much more likable than the rest of the "Yellowstone" inhabitants, and what could they learn from him going forward? 

Jimmy played the cards he was dealt and became a winner on Yellowstone

While he might never have sat at the Dutton dinner table, Jimmy's story was as compelling as any other in Sheridan's hit TV show. Picked up by Rip (Cole Hauser) and torn a new one as soon as he came into employment of the Yellowstone ranch, Jimmy started from the bottom and worked his way up. Even so, the potential future that his new boss had laid out for him was one to understandably be fearful of. "These guys, they just work here, Jimmy," Rip warned his new recruit in the show's first season. "You'll see a thousand come and go. But not us. We die here." 

Such a conversation felt better suited for "The Sopranos," with Jimmy almost on the verge of being the Christopher Moltisanti of the Dutton dynasty — that is, the punching bag and never the protege. Thankfully, as time passed, he ended up being neither, and now, the show is all the better for it. While there was a brief bump with his past that was quickly resolved by Rip and the rest of his buddies at the ranch, Jimmy stuck to a straight and narrow path and became someone audiences actually want to see succeed. He was a break from the chaos and the conflict that the show couldn't go a week without. 

Eventually, Jimmy went from a drug addict, to a rodeo star, to a trained and tamed addition to the Four-Sixers, getting to a point no hand with a Y-brand had managed — and then, he was actually allowed to leave it behind. In doing so, though, his departure showed just how little good there was in "Yellowstone" without Hurdstram's underdog present, and just how nasty the rest of the characters are.

The Duttons are the bad guys and that can make Yellowstone a hard watch

The core players of "Yellowstone" are great at what they do, and it's enjoyable to see them at work... it's just what they're good at isn't very nice. In any other story, big screen or small, John Dutton would be the villain of the piece. Heck, he's the kind of guy Kevin Costner has faced off with plenty of times in his previous films: the crotchety old land tycoon, who wants everything to go his way, with a mentality that has trickled down to his kids. Beth feeds off the chaos she causes (Kelly Reilly's words, not ours). Jamie (Wes Bentley) is the weasel trying to keep himself in the clear. Rip is the strong, brutish type that kills his problems rather than deals with them peacefully. Who is left? Kayce (Luke Grimes)? The prodigal son might not be the most corrupt of the bunch, but he's certainly the most boring.

Because of these morally questionable choices, though, it makes it hard for the audience to find characters really worth supporting. For a family so fond of their home turf and their allegedly peaceful life in the country, the Dutton clan rarely tries to live a quiet existence since they're so busy antagonizing others. Perhaps, though, the next chapter of Sheridan's story could see some characters getting the kind of redemption that Jimmy found.

Kevin Costner's exit could change the Dutton Dynasty ... for the better

Like the Royce rabble in "Succession," it might take a death in the family to change some Dutton children and their other halves. It's safe to say that even though top figureheads deny the issue, there's a chance that Kevin Costner could be leaving the show and replaced by Matthew McConaughey as a new character

The most obvious exit path, given John Dutton's dominance over the show at this time, would be his death — something that would leave ripples through every other part of the series. The toppling of the emperor off his throne could see characters put things in perspective, change their goals, and see that there's more to life than land and being a livestock agent. It'd be the kind of revelation Jimmy had when he realized there was life beyond the big yellow Y ... something that homegrown and devoted daughter Beth could stand to discover, herself. After all, having started a family and settled down with her childhood sweetheart, there's no reason Beth can't finally get a view of the bigger picture and accept there's more to a family than the name it carries. 

This kind of route could lead the fan favorite (and self-proclaimed tornado) to settle down and get the happy ending she deserves, just like Jimmy did. This would be good news for Rip: given that he follows her in almost everything she does, the same could happen for him. It'd make a nice change from branding employees, for a change.