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Modern crime series Yellowstone pulls in millions of viewers with each episode despite having more in common with old Westerns than recent TV dramas. Showrunner and Hollywood scribe Taylor Sheridan has opened up about how the show has become more and more popular over the course of three seasons.
Writer-director Taylor Sheridan has finally revealed some of the secrets of his show Yellowstone’s success as production continues in Montana.
The first three seasons of Sheridan’s cowboy crime drama have already delivered plenty of shocks and surprises to an ever-growing audience on Paramount, and now streaming service Peacock.
Although the family feuds and violent corruption are familiar themes for modern viewers, the showrunner and his co-creator John Linson took their inspiration from classic Westerns to tell the story of the powerful Duttons.
Hollywood legend Kevin Costner leads the pack as the ruthless patriarch and powerful landowner John Dutton.
While the classic film star is certainly a mark of quality for some fans, Taylor Sheridan confirmed a lot of hard work from himself and Paramount has gone into finding Yellowstone’s audience.
Speaking to Deadline, Sheridan admitted he had to push the network into marketing the series for its intended demographic.
He first explained: “I think it’s a few different things. I know people in L.A. that are fanatics for the show who do not fit the demographic of who you think would watch the show.”
The backstabbing and political mind games deployed by the Duttons throughout the series may be a far cry from reality, but Yellowstone’s biggest fans are certainly not your average city-dweller.
Sheridan continued: “Obviously, Kevin has a big draw, but as the show started, I really pushed them to market this [differently].
“I said, look, if we’re going to make a show about space travel, then we want to market to astronauts.
“We want astronauts walking around, telling everybody this is the best show about space travel you can find.”
At its core, Yellowstone is a show about cowboys, horse riders and ranch hands and the showrunner was adamant on making the series as respectful of the lifestyle as possible.
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He added: “I said, we have to treat this the same way. I’m writing it for cowboys because if I make it authentic and believable to them, everyone else will believe the premise.”
Sheridan revealed he managed to convince Paramount to take an unconventional approach to get the word out about his new season.
In addition to standard television commercials, the marketing team attended horse shows, rodeos and state fairs to reach Yellowstone’s intended audience.
Thankfully, the gamble paid off, and the show has become Paramount’s most-watched original scripted television series.
The co-creator went on: “They thought it was ridiculous, but they did it. You know they just thought it was nuts. No one’s ever paid any attention to these people. No one’s ever given them a show.
“It’s a show for everybody, but at the same time, it’s highlighting a lifestyle and a way of life that most people don’t live, but those who do, they don’t have a show about it.”
Yellowstone’s ratings have grown exponentially over the years, drawing in over five million viewers for this year’s finale; could the fourth season beat that record?
Yellowstone will return with season 4 in 2021 on Paramount and Peacock.
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