Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why 1883's Geography Has Fans' Heads Spinning

Like most historical dramas on television, it was always inevitable that Paramount+'s "1883" would fall victim to a few inaccuracies and anachronisms here and there. Though the time period in which the series takes place is extremely important to the story itself — indeed, the show's name is simply the year it takes place in — some aspects of history have been altered slightly to better execute a compelling TV series.

A few of the more glaring historical inaccuracies within the series include the fact that every single character in "1883" has perfect, gleaming white teeth (despite the fact that, at the time, rarely anyone in America was brushing their teeth), and the fact that Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) is clearly wearing modern-day hair extensions in some scenes. That said, most of these issues are relatively minor, and as such, it's usually possible to suspend one's disbelief a little and focus solely on the story that the series is trying to present. 

However, there is one error in the series regarding the geography of Texas that some fans found hard to ignore.

The show gets Texas geography completely wrong

The issue in question relates to the "1883" character's journey through Texas, and specifically their stop at the Red River, which forms the border between Texas and Oklahoma. While at Red River, Shea Brennan (Sam Elliot) and James Dutton (Tim McGraw) discuss how, if they keep pushing west, they'll eventually have to cross the Brazos River. But, if they instead turn east, they can find a ferry to take them across to the town of Denison. According to u/ladyofthelathe on Reddit, the geography presented on the show is completely illogical.

"The UPPER Brazos starts in Stonewall County, TX," the user explained. "That's 207 miles almost due west of Fort worth, and 120 miles south of the Red River." That means for the party to be forced to cross the Brazos River if they went west from the Red River, as Shea and James claim, they would first have to travel over 100 miles south back the way they'd just come from. So either the geography of the show has shifted radically from real life, or the group has gotten wildly lost.

Hilariously, plenty of comments on the post blamed the issue on showrunner Taylor Sheridan's writing, but asserted that this inaccuracy doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of things. "This is a Taylor Sheridan written series, just enjoy the entertainment and never even think a little more than face value," wrote u/euskoyanki. "Taylor takes creative license with many things," agreed u/BuilderTexas. Others chimed in to confirm that the displacement of the two rivers in "1883" is a blatantly egregious error, and while some were overwhelming irritated by Sheridan's poor portrayal of Texas' geography, most were willing to forgive the mistake simply because the series itself is so entertaining.