How was ‘Yellowstone’, America’s most popular show, totally ignored by the Emmys?
Yellowstone is america most watched television series, and its co-creator Taylor Sheridan quickly became one of Hollywood’s most prolific showrunners, with at least eight series in production or development. He has a big deal with Paramount and a constellation of stars on his shows. But none of that helped with Emmy nominations this year, where Yellowstone was completely overshadowed, while its recent spin-off, 1883, only scored three technical nods.
Television executives often claim to want programming that appeals to a wide audience. “But at the same time,” says a longtime TV writer-producer, “you see what they present as award-worthy – and those are things that appeal to the coastal elite, for the most part. ” Take Succession. He led this year’s nomination tally with 25 and, as Yellowstone, he delights in melodrama and bitter family struggles. “But a soap opera set in the big-money world of a publishing empire seems fancy and a ranch in Central America doesn’t,” the writer-producer continues. “There is both a conscious and unconscious bias against the horse and cowboy arena.”
Yellowstone boasts splendid cinematography, a stellar cast, and a passionate fandom captivated by the series’ brutal power struggles and its nostalgia for a vanishing way of life, not to mention a gritty brand of American masculinity that refuses to bow to outside authority. VF vaunted Yellowstonethe story lines as “reminiscence of Successionpower seizes, The Godfathermob mentality, and dallasit’s bitchy quarrels, except with cattle. Soon in its fifth season, the drama stars Kevin Costner like John Dutton, the patriarch of a Montana ranch, and Kelly Reilly like his daughter, Beth, a sharp-tongued corporate raider with a self-destructive streak. Yellowstone prequel 1883, a limited series about settlers on the frontier, features married country music legends hill of faith and Tim McGraw like Dutton’s ancestors. These stars may actually cause some of the disconnect, as one Emmy voter suggests: “I think it’s partly a demographic issue. The fact that 1883 a Faith Hill and Tim McGraw means it speaks a bit to a country audience. It’s hugely popular, but not in the right places for the Emmys.
Sheridan’s dramas also lack some of the satirical or comedic dark elements that many Emmy nominees this year incorporate; same stranger things is peppered with retro references to popular culture. “I think the seriousness of Yellowstone may alienate some [Hollywood] people,” says the writer-producer. “It’s not cynical, which is probably why millions of people like it. It tells a good story, it doesn’t make fun of itself, and it’s beautiful to watch. But for some reason it doesn’t feel premium and high enough [to win awards]. Cynicism is synonymous with quality.
David Glasser, an executive producer and CEO of 101 Studios, which produces Sheridan’s shows, says he often meets people who assume Yellowstone Has Already Won Emmys: “When I Tell People He’s Only Ever Gotten One Nomination, They Really Can’t Believe It.” His main reaction to this year’s nominations is disappointment from the people behind Yellowstone and 1883. “These are not easy shows to do,” he says. “For 1883, when we said we were going to haul 30 wagons and 300 people across America, we did. With the exception of a tornado, there were no special effects. We started with 108 degrees in July and ended up in minus 5 on top of a mountain in Montana. So if he doesn’t get that recognition, we feel sorry for our crew, our cast, and the team that put this together.
Emmy voters watching Yellowstone may not find it to their liking, but even forgetting those who didn’t bother to give it a chance, there are probably plenty more who never figured out how to watch it at all.
YellowstoneThe home of is Paramount Network, a linear cable channel that has no other scripted originals to entice viewers. “I think it’s tough if you’re on a linear channel and not a ‘prestigious’ channel like FX or AMC,” a TV insider points out. To make things even more complicated, YellowstoneThe back seasons of are available on Peacock rather than Paramount+, where other Sheridan shows like 1883 and Mayor of Kingstown flow.
Peacock and Paramount+ are both relatively rookie streamers, and both have fallen behind in the Emmy race this year — they’ve received 14 combined nominations, which is as many as the Succession single actors. “There is a hierarchy of streamers, you know? We kind of assume that whatever is good will be on HBO, Apple or Hulu,” the Emmy voter says. Or as the writer-producer puts it: “Some Emmy voters immediately weed out subconscious points of your stuff if you’re from somewhere less prestigious. Something that’s on Peacock and Paramount+, people won’t have the same visceral reaction than with a Netflix thing. Emmy voters should be more sophisticated and not be swayed by factors like that. But I still think they are.