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The best TV shows like Yellowstone

Now in its fifth season, few shows have had the enormous success that Yellowstone has managed. In an era when no one watches the same thing anymore, Yellowstone has managed to command and hold a remarkably large audience. The series, which is in many ways a more updated, gritty, and realistic version of shows like Dallas that aired back in the 1980s, has used consistently sharp writing, a roster of great stars, and plenty of Montana vistas to worm its way into TV fan’s hearts all over the country.

If you love Yellowstone and slightly resent the fact that it’s only on for a few weeks out of the year, fear not! There are plenty of other great TV shows that have things in common with Yellowstone, and may fill the hole in your heart left by the show’s absence when every season ends. Some of these shows have similar creative teams, or are about similar things, or are set in a similar part of the country. Whatever the reason, though, each one of them has a chance of making you miss Yellowstone just a little bit less.

Deadwood (2004)

tv-ma 3 Seasons
Genre Western, Crime, Drama
Cast Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker
Created by David Milch

A modern take on the western, Deadwood grapples with many of the same power dynamics that are often at the forefront on Yellowstone, and does it against a similar backdrop. Set along the frontier in the 19th century, the series tells the story of the inhabitants of the town of Deadwood as the chaos and opportunity of frontier life give way to a more ordered and ultimately brutal civil order. The characters on Deadwood are not outright villains, but they’re not heroes either. Instead, they’re morally complicated people who sometimes do bad things for good reasons.

Ian McShane’s performance in the series as Al Swearengen stands up there with the best TV performances of all time, and the series features some of the best writing ever committed to the small screen. The show was canceled by HBO after just three seasons, but it got a movie more than a decade later that put a fitting cap on many of the show’s dangling plot threads.

DEADWOOD Official Season 1 Classic Trailer (HD) Ian Mcshane Drama Series

Justified (2010)

tv-ma 6 Seasons
Genre Crime, Drama
Cast Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Joelle Carter
Created by Graham Yost

Justified has a similar ethos to Yellowstone, following an old-fashioned US Marshal whose methods of law enforcement often put him at odds with his superiors. Justified is smart enough, though, to examine the many failings and limitations of its central character. Over the course of five seasons, Justified was consistently one of the most well-written and beautifully performed shows on television, even though it almost always flew under the radar.

Thankfully, Justified was so beloved by critics that it got to live a long and healthy life. The show’s combination of overarching arcs punctuated by more isolated episodes made it somewhat unique against the modern TV landscape, but that’s ultimately what helped it succeed. If Yellowstone is an updated version of primetime soap operas like Dallas and Dynasty, then Justified is an updated version of the old west TV shows that were so common in the earliest days of TV.

Justified Season 1 Promo / trailer

Mayor of Kingstown (2021)

Mayor of Kingstown
tv-ma 2 Seasons
Genre Drama, Crime
Cast Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest, Hugh Dillon
Created by Hugh Dillon, Taylor Sheridan

Taylor Sheridan is one of the creative forces behind Yellowstone, but that’s not the only series he’s developed. In addition to the various Yellowstone prequels and spin-off projects, which every Yellowstone fan should check out if they haven’t already, Sheridan is also the mind behind Mayor of Kingstown. The series is set in Michigan and follows a family that thrives on the business of incarceration.

The show, which stars Jeremy Renner, is ultimately about one family’s attempt to bring order and stability to a town that has been divided by systemic racism, and is only kept economically viable thanks to a thriving prison industrial complex. Like every Sheridan show, Mayor of Kingstown is not afraid of wading into controversial, hot-button topics that are very much of the moment. Kingstown is set in a very different world than Yellowstone, but both shows are united by Sheridan’s unflinching ability to tell compelling stories economically.

MAYOR OF KINGSTOWN Trailer 2 (2021)

Succession (2018)

tv-ma 4 Seasons
Genre Drama, Comedy
Cast Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, Kieran Culkin
Created by Jesse Armstrong

It may be set in a totally different world than the Montana wilderness of Yellowstone, but Succession has a lot of DNA in common with its more rural counterpart. The show, which follows the family at the head of a hugely successful entertainment and news conglomerate, is ultimately about the warring factions within that family and their attempts to usurp their father’s power. The Roys are basically more urban, bougie Duttons who also happen to be much more unambiguously terrible people.

Some of them are worse than others, and some of them are stupider than others, but all of them are compelling for one reason or another. The show’s ensemble is first-rate, and it also happens to be one of the funniest shows on television. Succession is a series about money and power, and about the terrible people who exist behind the scenes of almost every institution in American life. For them, it’s not about money anymore. All that matters is winning, even if the people you beat are your family.

Succession: Season 1 | Official Trailer | HBO

The Sopranos (1999)

The Sopranos
tv-ma 6 Seasons
Genre Drama
Cast James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Created by David Chase

One of the most famous shows ever made, it’d be hard to imagine that The Sopranos would hold up after all the hype around it. When you sit down and watch it, though, you realize it’s widely regarded as one of the best shows ever made for a reason. Following a modern day crime family as it deals with the ins and outs of being a part of the mob in the early 21st century, part of what made the show so unique was that it lacked some of the Shakespearean vibes that often characterize gangster shows.

That’s not to say that there’s a lack of drama. What The Sopranos focuses on, though, is how the events of the series impact the show’s characters, and whether there’s any way for them to atone for everything they’ve done. The Sopranos is not always an easy show to watch, but like all of the best dramas ever made, it can be almost shockingly funny. If you want an Italian, New Jersey-centric version of Yellowstone that may be even better, The Sopranos is the obvious choice.

The Sopranos | Critics Rave Trailer | HBO

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Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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