Heroes, Horses, and Real Estate at the End of the Heartland Dream

A Close Look at What Makes Yellowstone a Red-State Fable That This Blue-State Intellectual Can’t Stop Watching

heros horses 

Yellowstone is a show that makes me cringe and keeps me profoundly engaged. At times, this dreamscape of cowboy conservatism is one from which I want to wake up but one that also captivates me. A contemporary Western soap opera, Yellowstone, is the most-watched TV show in the country. To understand it and, more importantly, to grasp what has made it so enthralling to so many Americans, especially in red states, it has not been sufficient to sneer at its right-wing assumptions from the outside. I had to enter the world in which those assumptions make sense. Yellowstone, like all forms of US popular culture, reflects and shapes how Americans see social reality. In this six-part article, I shine a bright light on the political worldview that might be taken in along with the Trojan horse of "entertainment."