Yellowstone is known for its over-the-top plot lines and complicated family drama, but the show’s cast and crew has also been involved in plenty of offscreen controversy over the years.
Since the Paramount Network series premiered in June 2018, actors along with cocreator Taylor Sheridan have fended off criticism that the show is written with a conservative audience in mind. “They refer to it as ‘the conservative show’ or ‘the Republican show’ or ‘the red-state Game of Thrones,’” the Oscar nominee told The Atlantic in November 2022. “And I just sit back laughing. I’m like, ‘Really?’”
The Sons of Anarchy alum went on to claim that the family drama has tackled plenty of controversial topics over the years without resorting to cliches. “The show’s talking about the displacement of Native Americans and the way Native American women were treated and about corporate greed and the gentrification of the West, and land-grabbing,” Sheridan said. “That’s a red-state show?”
Yellowstone lead actor Kevin Costner, meanwhile, has faced criticism from conservative viewers for his personal political opinions. After he wore a shirt supporting former Congresswoman Liz Cheney‘s 2022 re-election bid, he clapped back at fans who claimed they would stop watching the show because he took a stance on the campaign. Cheney, who lost her primary election to Harriet Hageman, has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump.
“I was clear that she probably wasn’t going to win her election. But I wanted to let her know, as a citizen, how much I appreciated her brave, clear-headed stance,” the Oscar winner told USA Today in November 2022. “I didn’t really care how the cookie crumbles, that people that liked me now don’t like me. That’s OK.”
Cheney is a Republican, but Costner has also shown his support for Democratic candidates. In December 2019, the Dances With Wolves director endorsed Pete Buttigieg for the 2020 presidential nomination. “When Pete speaks of unity, it’s the kind of unity I’ve been waiting and hoping to hear about,” Costner said of the Secretary of Transportation at the time. “The strength he describes isn’t the kind that limits compassion in the name of America.”
Though some viewers have threatened to stop watching Yellowstone for one reason or another, the series remains one of the most popular shows currently on the air. The season 5 premiere in November 2022 drew 12.1 million viewers, making it the most popular scripted series of the 2022-23 TV season. “We’ve been able to create a show that didn’t start out being popular, but did it on its own terms,” Costner said of the show’s massive success at the time in an interview with the Associated Press.
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Keep scrolling for a look back at Yellowstone‘s biggest offscreen drama: