Taylor Sheridan Says HBO Passed On Yellowstone Because It Was “Too Middle America”

Taylor Sheridan creator of Yellowstone
Paramount Network

It’s no secret that Yellowstone is one of the top TV shows on the planet, along with the show’s spinoff series, 1883 and 1923, which broke records for the most viewed TV show in Paramount+ history.

It truly is sad that the show will be coming to an end after the second half of season five, after it was initially believed that the show would last at least six or seven seasons.

However, alleged issues in scheduling between Kevin Costner and the show has ultimately forced Yellowstone into a much quicker ending, and Costner won’t be re-joining Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone world from here on out.

Nevertheless, we still have a lot to look forward to, as we officially have a Matthew McConaughey spinoff series coming our way, and we have to be thankful for the four and half great seasons the show has given us thus far.

With that being said, what if I told you Yellowstone was almost never a show to begin with? After sitting on the shelf with HBO, it took quite a bit of shopping around and everybody and their mother passed on it.

He even went out and got Robert Redford for HBO (at their request) and they still weren’t ready to give it the green light.

The co-creator of the show recently sat down with The Hollywood Reporter, and recalled a crisis meeting with the network’s VP, where Sheridan and co-creator John Linson asked why they didn’t necessarily love the idea:

“We go to lunch in some snazzy place in West L.A. And John Linson finally asks:

‘Why don’t you want to make it?’

And the VP goes:

‘Look, it just feels so Middle America. We’re HBO, we’re avant-garde, we’re trendsetters. This feels like a step backward. And frankly, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone should be living out there (in rural Montana). It should be a park or something.’ “

Sheridan also said they didn’t like Beth Dutton’s “abrasive” character, and how viewers wouldn’t like her either:

“‘We think she’s too abrasive. We want to tone her down. Women won’t like her.’ They were wrong, because Beth says the quiet part out loud every time.

When someone’s rude to you in a restaurant, or cuts you off in the parking lot, Beth says the thing you wish you’d said.”

He then closed out that meeting:

“So I said to them, ‘OK, everybody done? Who on this call is responsible for a scripted show that you guys have on the air? Oh, you’re not? Thanks.’ And I hung up. They never called back.”

However, Sheridan admitted that HBO’s longtime executive told him this before his exit in 2016:

“When the regime changed, Lombardo called me. To his credit, he said, ‘I always believed in the show, but I could not get any support.’ His last act before they fired him was to give me the script back.”

After trying to find a company to back the show (everything from TNT to TBS), Paramount finally agreed, and I’d say it was a good decision.

The VP against the show, who Sheridan wouldn’t name, left HBO for a production deal, and after the show began to take off, he emailed Sheridan to congratulate him, but also pitched a family drama.

Sheridan responded:

“Great idea. It sounds just like ‘Yellowstone.'”

DAMN… love to see it.

But still, pretty telling to hear how HBO actually views Middle America… although, I can’t say I’m surprised.

And Sheridan did them one better… in the second season, Jamie gets tangled up with some hot shot New York City reporter who wants to try and take down John Dutton. The reporter, Sarah Nguyen, played by Michaela Conlin, starts trashing the state of Montana to Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley), and Sheridan used some of what HBO said to him to create those lines for her.

We all know what happened in the story… Jamie killed her.

And Taylor Sheridan got the last laugh…

Season 5 returns this fall… well, hopefully.

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A beer bottle on a dock