HBO Passed On ‘Yellowstone’ For Incredibly Stupid Reasons: ‘Feels So Middle America’

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HBO’s reasons for passing on “Yellowstone” are comically stupid.

Before the series as the face of the Paramount Network, HBO had the rights to Taylor Sheridan’s work, but the powerhouse network ultimately decided to pass.

Sheridan ended up shopping the western series around before landing at Paramount Network. Kevin Costner was cast as John Dutton and the rest is history. It eventually became one of the most popular shows in TV history.

HBO passed on making “Yellowstone.” (Credit: Paramount Network)

It could have been another monster hit for HBO, but the network apparently felt it wasn’t for them, in part, because it was targeted for “Middle America.”

“We go to lunch in some snazzy place in West L.A. And [Yellowstone co-creator] John Linson finally asks: ‘Why don’t you want to make it?’ And the vp goes: ‘Look, it just feels so Middle America. We’re HBO, we’re avant-garde, we’re trendsetters. This feels like a step backward. And frankly, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone should be living out there [in rural Montana]. It should be a park or something,'” Sheridan explained in a profile from The Hollywood Reporter when talking about HBO’s reluctance to make the series.

“Yellowstone” ending with season five. (Credit: Paramount Network)

“Yellowstone” turned into a huge hit.

Setting aside the drama of the show, there’s no doubt “Yellowstone” has been one of the most successful series in the history of TV.

There’s a serious argument to be made it’s the most successful series of the past decade. It absolutely dominates the ratings and resonates with regular Americans who the coasts seem to have forgotten.

The series promotes traditional values in regards to land ownership, guns, the government, family, it’s pro-life and is simply good entertainment.

Taylor Sheridan explains why HBO passed on “Yellowstone.” (Credit: Paramount Network)

“Yellowstone” features multiple abortion storylines. The storyline where the abortion was ignored ends in happiness. The storyline where the abortion was carried out ends in absolute pain and suffering. Other than “The Ranch,” I can’t think of a single series that has pushed such overtly pro-life messaging. It wasn’t in your face, but it was definitely pro-life. Good luck finding that elsewhere in Hollywood.

Is that what HBO meant when the network claimed it as a “step backward”?

HBO should regret this decision.

As Ari Gold said in “Entourage,” making a bomb doesn’t ruin your career. Passing on a monster hit does.

HBO passed on what is the most popular show on TV, and couldn’t even find a good reason for doing so. The network just allegedly claimed the network wants to be “avant-garde” and “trendsetters.”

That doesn’t even make sense. “The Last of Us” and “House of the Dragon” are the network’s two most popular series, and neither are “avant-garde.” HBO should have come up with a much better excuse for passing on “Yellowstone” than what Sheridan was told.

HBO passed on “Yellowstone.” (Credit: Paramount Network)

As for Paramount Network, the series has acted as an ATM machine for the network. Turns out producing content the middle part of the country enjoys is great for business. It’s not rocket science. It’s pretty simple, and “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan gets it better than anyone else in Hollywood.

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.


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