It’s no secret that Yellowstone’slatest prequel series, 1923,was arguably the most anticipated shows of the winter.
The numbers say it all, as the show wracked up a whooping 7.4 million views during its premiere this past Sunday, shattering the record for most watched series premiere in Paramount history.
Needless to say, Sheridan has found himself a gold mine once again, as the show led by famed actors Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren as Jacob and Cara Dutton, documenting the struggles of the next generations of the Dutton family as the story takes us into the ’20s.
Following the end of World War I, ahead of the Great Depression (although Montana saw it’s own depression about 10 years before the rest of the country), in the midst of the Prohibition Era, and following the Spanish Flu… it was a time when the cultural landscape of America was shifting. Wealthy folks were thriving, and immigrants and poor folks were busting their asses to survive.
The history of the era is a lot to unpack, but Taylor Sheridan is giving it his best shot.
Although it’s easy to see this series is gonna be a success, it was no easy path in the making of this show.
Sheridan recently sat down for an interview with Deadlineto discuss the show, what we may be able to expect, and the absolutely insane production value of 1923.
He argues that that 1883 was probably the most expensive first season of a show ever:
“I’m going to tell you and you can tell by watching… I would argue that ‘1883’ was the most expensive first season of a TV show ever made.
This was much more expensive. Much more expensive. I don’t know what the ‘Game of Thrones’ budgets were, but I don’t know how they could have been more than this.”
And 1923? Even bigger.
He calls it the Lawrence Of Arabia of television shows:
“You saw six thousand sheep, three thousand cattle, and as this show keeps going, you’re in Africa. All real. You know how hard it is to move a crew around in Africa in 2022 with Covid, and all the rules and all the politics?
We were in four countries in Africa. It’s not like we went to one little preserve in South Africa. We were in four different countries. South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, which is actually part of Tanzania, so that doesn’t really count. So, three. Am I missing one?”
Taylor Sheridan’s reputation, and track record of success over the past few years, has Paramount handing him blank checks to create these monstrous television shows that really only run for one season.
Taylor has been very vocal about not telling every single detail about the Dutton family, but rather, giving little peeks into the window at different points in time. 1883 was one season long, and was always going to be one season long.
The same goes for 1923, except, he’s gonna need a little more than 10 episodes to tell the story.
Taylor admitted that he didn’t have 1923 as mapped out in his head as he did with 1883:
“This one is different than 1883 where I had the whole thing blocked out in my head. This one, I had no idea what I was going to do. I just went on a journey myself and I’m the one that made the call to the network, which is probably the greatest call they ever got.
Hey, I need to make more episodes to finish this story. I need to do this in two blocks. An eight episode block and a second eight episode block to wrap this up. I can’t wrap it up in two episodes and do the story justice. For them, it is great because they get more content. For me, I get more runway.”
But the price tag is STEEP:
“So, that’s the thing about Paramount that’s been so great for me. They’re so malleable to the storyteller, or at least to me as the storyteller. They will add episodes because I need it to tell the story.
You think about when you talk about a show that’s costing $30 million to $35 million an episode and you just asked for eight more episodes, I didn’t do very good in math in school, but I can multiply eight and three and add a bunch of zeroes and realize I just asked for 240 million dollars.”
And perhaps the most hilarious part of the entire endeavor was that Paramount executives were expecting a second season of 1883. But there was only one problem… everybody died.
Bob Bakish, the President and CEO of Paramount Global, about lost his mind when he got to the 1883 season finale. They even wanted Taylor to write a second season where Sam Elliott’s character Shea Brennan somehow survived his suicide attempt so they could do a second season.
That’s where 1923 came into the picture:
“I know they read the scripts, but they don’t read scripts, so when they read the last episode of 1883, I don’t think they digested what had just happened, even though I made it quite clear from the very beginning.
The story I heard is Bob Bakish watched it and said, ‘wait a minute, she dies! They all die? What do we do in season two?’ I said, ‘there is no season two.’ They’re like, ‘there better be a fu*king season two because we already picked it up.’ I’m sitting here going, ‘guys everyone is dead.’
They wanted to have a meeting about how Sam Elliott survived his suicide. By the very nature of the term it’s not something survivable, and who would want to see that? So, I said I’ll come up with another peek into the window and I sat there and tried to look at it.
I studied Montana’s history and the history of the world. Covid was ending, which is a very similar thing to World War I, because after World War I ended, about a half a year later the Spanish Flu arrived and it killed 100 times what our Covid-19 did.”
And 1923 was born.
A $30 million dollar per episode, monstrous endeavor that will show us the next chapter of the Dutton family. Spanning multiple continents, and multiple struggles that early Western settlers faced, it has the potential to be Taylor Sheridan’s best work to date… even better than Yellowstone.
If you’re not familiar, check out the trailer:
So without further ado… mapping out the entire Dutton family, from 1883, to today.
The Dutton Family
The original patriarch of the Dutton Family, James (Tim McGraw) was a farmer from Tennessee who took his family out west in search of a new life. The husband of Margaret Dutton and father of Elsa, John and Spencer, he chose to establish the modern day Dutton Ranch where his daughter Elsa passed away.
The original matriarch of the Dutton Family, Margaret (Faith Hill) is married to James Dutton and the mother of Elsa, John and Spencer Dutton.
Elsa (Isabel May) was the eldest child of James and Margaret Dutton. She also serves as the narrator of both 1883 and 1923. She was going to marry a cowboy named Ennis, however, he was killed on the journey West. She vowed to return to a Comanche warrior named Sam once her family reached its destination, however she was killed in an attack on the wagon train. The Dutton Ranch property was established where she died, and she was the first to be buried there.
John Dutton (Audie Rick in 1883, James Badge Dale in 1923) is the son of James and Margaret Dutton, brother to Elsa and Spencer. He was just a young boy during the events of 1883, however in 1923, he works alongside his uncle Jacob on the Dutton Ranch. He is married to Emma Dutton, and they have at least one son, Jack.
Claire (Dawn Olivieri) is James Dutton’s sister, who joins the journey west with her daughter Mary Abel. A widow, she kills herself once her daughter is killed on the trail.
Jacob (Harrison Ford) is the brother of James Dutton, who becomes the leader of the family once James passes away. He and his wife, Cara Dutton, work to run the ranch with their nephews, John and Spencer, and John’s son Jack.
Cara (Helen Mirren) is the wife of Jacob Dutton. A hard-nosed Irish immigrant, she becomes the matriarch of the Dutton family in 1923, following the passing of Margaret and James.
Spencer (Brandon Sklenar) is the second son of James and Margaret Dutton. Born after the Duttons settled in Montana (and the death of his sister, Elsa), Spencer is a WWI vet who spends time hunting in Africa before returning back to Montana to work the ranch.
Emma (Marley Shelton) is the wife of John Dutton Sr. and the mother of Jack Dutton.
Jack (Darren Mann) works on the Dutton Ranch alongside his father, John Dutton Sr. and great-uncle, Jacob Dutton. He is engaged to Elizabeth Strafford, the daughter of another notable rancher.
With the hints that Elizabeth may already be pregnant, my suspicion is that Jack may be the father of John Dutton II since the “II” title is generally used when the child is named after another relative, not the father. This is just a guess, but my hunch is that John Dutton won’t survive 1923, and Jack will name his first born son after his late father… John Dutton II. The other option is that John or spencer have another son who then goes on to father John II.
Elizabeth (Michelle Randolph) is Jack’s fiancée. The two end up postponing their wedding briefly, but are planning on marrying very soon. There is also a suspicion that she might already be pregnant.
John Dutton III
The modern day leader of the Dutton family and the current Governor of Montana. He is the father of Lee Dutton, Beth Dutton and Kayce Dutton, and the adoptive father of Jamie Dutton.
Evelyn (Gretchen Mol) is the wife of John Dutton III who passed away in a horseback riding accident when her children were young. She is the mother of Lee, Beth and Kayce Dutton.
Lee (Dave Annable) is the oldest son of John and Evelyn Dutton. The heir to the Dutton Ranch, Lee was killed by Robert Long (Monica’s brother) after an argument broke out over stolen cattle.
Beth (Kelly Reilly) is the daughter of John Dutton III and wife of Rip Wheeler, her father’s ranch foreman and right-hand man. Unable to have children of her own, her and Rip have taken in teenage Carter.
Rip (Cole Hauser) is the Yellowstone foreman and right-hand man of John Dutton III. He came to the Dutton Ranch as an orphaned teenager after he killed his own father (who killed his mother and brother). Teenage sweethearts, he eventually marries John’s daughter, Beth Dutton.
Kayce (Luke Grimes) is the youngest of the Dutton siblings, and a former Navy SEAL. He’s married to Monica Dutton and the father of Tate Dutton and John Dutton IV (deceased).
Monica (Kelsea Asbille) was raised on the Broken Rock Reservation. She is married to Kayce Dutton and the mother of Tate Dutton and John Dutton IV.
Tate (Brecken Merrill) is the oldest son of Kayce and Monica Dutton, the eldest of the 7th generation of Duttons.
John Dutton IV
John Dutton IV is the second son of Kayce and Monica Dutton, who tragically only lived a few hours following complications from an early birth and a car accident.
Jamie (Wes Bentley) is the adopted son of John Dutton III and the black sheep of the Dutton family.
Christina is Jamie’s ex assistant and the mother of his child.
James Dutton Jr.
The son of Jamie Dutton and his ex-girlfriend Christina, Jamie finds out he has a son after the birth.
1923 is available to stream… NOW.
In that 1893 flashback from Yellowstone Season 4, we see that James has two sons with him, John Sr. (who will be a major character in 1923) and Spencer… Generation Two.
They should be in their forties or so by the time 1923 rolls around and will have children of their own (Generation Three), and John Sr. and Spencer might even have young grandchildren (people got married pretty young back then), so that’s Generation Four.
Now, here’s where it get’s interesting… John Dutton III (born sometime in the 1950s) of Yellowstone would be Generation Five, which means Kayce, Jamie (adopted), the late Lee Dutton, and Beth Dutton would all be Generation Six, and young Tate would be Generation 7.
And that’s exactly what Tim McGraw himself has confirmed.
Tim says he plays the great-great-grandfather of John Dutton in the bonus Blu-ray content:
“I play John Dutton’s great-great-grandfather. Our family is the first to discover Yellowstone and settle it. And in doing that, we are the first to really defend it and fight people off, and try to establish it and then survive.
J.D.’s the patriarch of the family. He’s the guy that had the balls, I guess, to set out and take his family across the country and head up to Montana, and sorta settle this unknown land, this untamed land up there, and turn it into something.”
Of course, which generation of Dutton has implications for the show because in the Season Finale of 1883, Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) is on the verge of death and her father, James Dutton (Tim McGraw) needs to find a place to bury her because wherever they bury her body is where the Dutton family is going to settle.
So Spotted Eagle, a Crow elder, recommends a spot called the Paradise Valley.
But, there’s a catch… the Duttons can’t have it forever.
“Yes, Paradise. Good name. But you know this: that in seven generations, my people will rise up and take it back from you.”
To which James says:
“In seven generations, you can have it.”
Doesn’t bode well for the Dutton family in Yellowstone Season 5, does it?