I love the Taylor Sheridan universe – but I wouldn’t want to live there

We watch a lot of Taylor Sheridan TV in this house.

If you’re not familiar with his name, Sheridan began his Hollywood career as an actor and then discovered he has a particular gift as a screenwriter and filmmaker.

Sheridan’s cinematic universe now spans more big-budget, current TV shows and spinoffs than perhaps any other writer or showrunner.

I was a relative late-comer to Sheridan’s first hit show, Yellowstone. I had heard about it from friends and family members but didn’t think I’d enjoy a “Western” so I didn’t jump right on it. After all, it has a reputation as a show for dads.

Then, after our fantastic family road trip out West in 2021, I changed my tune. I fell in love with the land and sky in that part of the country and wanted to see more of it. I started and soon binge-watched my way through all the seasons of Yellowstone that were available. That was my first taste of Taylor Sheridan’s magic and I was hooked.

The first spinoff post-Yellowstone, a prequel known simply as 1883, is hands down one of my favorite shows of all time. I’ve written before about how much I adore both Yellowstone and 1883. I’ve lost track of how many times Z and I have watched the heartbreaking 1883, sobbing through many of the later episodes.

Sheridan has a knack for making you fall in love with a character and then heartlessly ripping your world to shreds.

So far, my daughter and I are also enjoying 1923, Sheridan’s follow-up to 1883, although it’s certainly heartbreaking and hard to watch at times. His visions of the American West, from the 1800s through modern times, are as brutal as they are bewitching. Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren do a terrific job with the lead roles in 1923.

In recent months, hubby and I watched two other Sheridan creations, Tulsa King and Mayor of Kingstown. These two have more to do with modern times and crimes, but both are nonetheless riveting to watch. After just one episode of both shows, I think my non-TV-watching hubby was even more into them than I was.

Tulsa King, in particular, brought Sly Stallone to the small screen for the first time in an utterly charming and delightful way. I’ll be shocked if Stallone doesn’t win some awards for his turn as a mafioso thug with a knack for building friendships and community along the way.

I love the way Sheridan can craft his character-centric stories in almost any setting, from the 1800s to modern times and from the American frontier to the gritty, prison-centric Michigan town that is Jeremy Renner’s home in Mayor of Kingstown.

If I have one note for Sheridan, it’s that he is not particularly kind to women in his shows. Men take a beating too, to be sure, but women seem to be particularly brutalized and often end up dead. I’d love to see him link up with a feminist advisor to help him avoid some of the blatant misogyny that has come to be the hallmark of some of his creations.

That said, he does know how to write a strong female character – most notably Elsa in 1883 and Beth in Yellowstone. They’re both somewhat sex-crazed, but they do have independence and moxie. Cara in 1923 is also a strong female character – and perhaps less sex-crazed. So maybe Sheridan is moving in the right direction.

As a woman, I enjoy watching Sheridan’s shows and movies – but I sure wouldn’t want to live in his man-centric, women-on-the-side world. I’d love to see his writing evolve and take on a more egalitarian approach.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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