What’s the latest on Taylor Sheridan’s western prequel?
As one of the relatively rare series to enjoy a full season of streaming success before then winning over audiences anew on linear TV, Taylor Sheridan’s 1883 has been an unquestionable hit for Paramount+ and its cable sibling Paramount Network. Alongside western legend Sam Elliott, stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill excelled at bringing Paradise Valley settlers James and Margaret Dutton to life for the Yellowstone prequel, and many fans agree that one season of the country-crossing saga just isn’t enough. But is 1883 Season 2 in the cards at all for McGraw and Hill?
At the moment, that answer would be no, with 1883 currently only existing as a one-and-done series within Taylor Sheridan’s expanding fictional universe. But there are a few caveats that arguably justify fans keeping hopes and dreams alive for the Dutton progenitors to make a return to the small screen in one form or another.
The Bass Reeves Spinoff Was 1883’s Second Season At One Point
In September 2021, Paramount+ announced that David Oyolewo would bring his talents to streaming for a drama focusing on frontier legend Bass Reeves, as spearheaded by Taylor Sheridan. The next big update came in May 2022, as CinemaBlend reported the project was revealed to officially exist within the Yellowstone universe as a spinoff follow-up titled (albeit temporarily) as 1883: The Bass Reeves Story. Production took place across the early months of 2023, and eventually wrapped in June, but not before its existence was again restructured to be the first chapter of an anthology series, now with the title Lawmen: Bass Reeves.
Considering the Lawmen switcheroo only happened after the initial wave of Yellowstone rumors about Kevin Costner chaos had spread, one can assume that the season was filmed with the mindset of it being an 1883 offshoot. And if it was, it’s obviously possible that Sheridan’s writing and direction included one or more direct Dutton-centric references. Could that mean a cameo or two from Tim McGraw and/or Faith Hill?
“Could,” absolutely, especially if the series takes place around the point when 1883 ended, with James & Co. (sans one family member) settling down in Paradise Valley, despite the tribal warning that tables would turn generations down the line. Especially if Cole Hauser’s bit role turns out to be legit. And I would never deny how awesome it’d be to see James Dutton riding alongside Bass Reeves for some crime-stopping action, not to mention other characters from 1883. But even if such surprises were written out and filmed, the branding pivot away from prequel ties could mean any potential connections would get severed, so as not to confuse viewers.
Yellowstone’s Unplanned End With Season 5 Could Have Changed Things
Paramount Network confirmed in May that Kevin Costner would be exiting the role of John Dutton, and that Yellowstone’s fifth season would be its final one. But while that kerfuffle might have killed other TV franchises, Paramount made the ballsy move of ordering up a direct sequel series in the same announcement, with Matthew McConaughey suspected to be taking on a leading role. This change in tide came in the weeks after the switch away from 1883: A Bass Reeves Story
, and while there aren’t any indications that the two are directly related, someone prone to theorizing could hypothesize that Sheridan and others are aiming to bring Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s characters back for a proper Season 2 of 1883.
Even though viewers technically already witnessed James Dutton meeting his maker in Yellowstone’s fourth season, that took place far enough down the timeline that there’s still a lot of story to be told during those interim years. Plus, 1883 kicked off with the fatal injury of a lead character who didn’t die until the end of the season, so it’s not like this series is pretending that life is guaranteed for anyone.
Tim McGraw And Faith Hill Rumored To Be Upset Over No Season 2
This is admitteldy the most tenuous of the three reasons to stay hopeful, since the conjecture is based on second-hand rumors, albeit ones that could justifiably change minds if they were proven true. In any case, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were said to have taken issue with 1883 only being planned as a limited series, and they allegedly feel as if more seasons are deserved, especially in light of the show’s ratings success on Paramount Network.
Around the time it initially aired, Tim McGraw stated that the first season crossed the country and hit upon all the storytelling elements expected of a western epic, and that he couldn’t foresee a follow-up season improving upon what was already there. Which obviously could have been 100% authentic and honest at the time, only to possibly change down the line after the show’s fanbase grew and he recognized how big of a sub-fandom he’d gained just from 1883. (With the same idea for Faith Hill.) Maybe what previously seemed like an unnecessary idea spiraled out into a desire to get back on the saddle, both literally and metaphorically, as James Dutton.
Of course, the decision comes down not to the fans who tune in and spread the word, but to the execs at Paramount+ and workhorse Taylor Sheridan, who may just realistically not have enough time in his life to crank out another season in the 1883-adjacent timeline. Plus, the currently ongoing WGA writers strike and SAG-AFTRA writers strike aren’t allowing for any forward progress on any of the aforementioned projects, so we’ll have to wait until those have been settled before learning about any possible changes to the lineup of upcoming Yellowstone series.
The first seasons of 1883 and 1923 are available to stream in full with a Paramount+ subscription, and we can only hope that the back half of Yellowstone’s fifth season will come together at some point soon.