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Should You Watch Yellowstone Before 1883 To Fully Enjoy It?

Since its 2018 debut, the Paramount Network's neo-Western drama, "Yellowstone," has emerged as a bonafide hit. Now, even as Season 4 of "Yellowstone" continues to shock and enthrall viewers, the fictional franchise that was co-created by Taylor Sheridan is about to get a little bit bigger with the launch of its first spin-off series.

The spin-off is titled "1883" and finds Sheridan and co. going the prequel route, telling a story that explores exactly how the Dutton clan came to own the coveted Montana land they spend the bulk of their time and energy defending on "Yellowstone." As any "Yellowstone" fan can attest, the ongoing defense of the Dutton family ranch by John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his allies has cost them blood, bullets, and so much more. The trailer for "1883," meanwhile, harrowingly teases just what it cost John's ancestors to claim the land in the first place.

The good news is that "Yellowstone" fans are soon going to learn how James Dutton (Tim McGraw) really procured his piece of the American dream, with "1883" set to make its Paramount+ debut on December 19. That said, a lot of viewers are wondering right now about whether or not they'll need to complete their "Yellowstone" binge in order to fully enjoy "1883."

Here's what those fans should know.

Viewers should be able to enjoy 1883 without watching Yellowstone

Considering the fact that the debut of "1883" is just around the corner, there's obviously not a lot of time for casual "Yellowstone" viewers to catch up with every episode of the flagship series before the prequel makes its Paramount+ debut. The good news for the folks out there who are interested in watching "1883," but have yet to catch up on "Yellowstone," is that they should be more than able to enjoy the new show even if they're not well-steeped in its parent series' lore.

That's largely because "1883" is a fairly self-contained tale set more than a century before the events of "Yellowstone," so there's clearly not going to be many opportunities for cameos from members of the original show. That said, watching "Yellowstone" in its entirety can only enhance someone's appreciation of the spin-off, as it'll help them understand exactly who the main players in "1883" are. Similarly, knowing what the Duttons' ancestors had to do to secure their land should only offer even more insight into exactly why John and his allies are so hell-bent on keeping it in "Yellowstone."

To their credit, both "Yellowstone" and "1883" bring their own unique flavor to the Western genre. While viewers, thankfully, don't need to watch one in order to enjoy the other, having knowledge of both shows certainly won't hurt the experience of watching either of them.