If there’s one thing that Paramount+ executives don’t regret, it’s having said yes to the Yellowstone project. The Kevin Costner-led series not only ended up becoming one of the streaming platform’s tentpole series – with viewership numbers reaching new records every season – but also spawned the creation of spin-offs that have become incredibly popular. But one person underestimated the Yellowstone-verse potential: Its own creator. In an interview with Deadline, director and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan reveals that he made a huge mistake with one of the spin-offs, 1883.
The “mistake” is not a problem for viewers in terms of plot twists, because by the end of 1883’s tenth and final episode audiences were treated to a shocking finale in which all major characters died. In the interview, however, Sheridan reveals that writing and filming that ending compromised the entire future of the series. What happened was, Sheridan thought 1883 was a one-off, while Paramount+ was already counting on Season 2.
“[W]hen 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 [CEO of Paramount Global] watched it and said, ‘Wait a minute, she dies! They all die? What do we do in Season 2?’ I said, ‘There is no Season 2.’ They’re like, ‘There better be a fucking Season 2 because we already picked it up.’ I’m sitting here going, ‘Guys, everyone is dead.’”
1923 was born from the ashes of 1883
With a Season 2 order and no story to tell, Sheridan reveals that he went back to study Montana’s History in order to find something, and realized that after the 1883 timeline there was a lot more content to tie in with major historical events like the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu. And the more he searched, the more he realized he could let go of 1883 and tell other stories in the same universe — which resulted in the other spin-off show 1923:
“I studied Montana’s history and the History of the world. […] And they kept going, ‘When are we going to get a script?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. Everyone is dead. I don’t know how to write the next season of this damn thing ,’ but I kept hunting History, and I kept finding things. It’s the one great thing about the Dutton family; you can skip generations and put them in all these unique situations, and it has nothing to do with ‘Yellowstone’, nothing to do with ‘1883’ and yet it’s tethered completely to them, but they’re all standalones. That’s what I find so intriguing about it.”
1883 is a prequel to Yellowstone and follows the Dutton family as they embark on a journey through the Great Plains. It is a stark retelling of Western expansion, and an intense study of one family fleeing poverty to seek a better future in America’s promised land – Montana. The series’ ensemble and star-studded cast features Academy Award nominee Sam Elliott, Grammy Award winners Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton, Isabel May, LaMonica Garrett, Marc Rissmann, Audie Rick, Eric Nelsen, and James Landry Hébert.
You can stream all episodes of 1883 on Paramount+ now. Check out the trailer for the series below: