Billy Oduory on Taylor Sheridan’s best TV shows, as ranked by IMDb scores…
Taylor Sheridan’s success with the Yellowstone Universe has cemented his position as one of Hollywood’s best Neo-Western writers and directors. However, Yellowstone is just one of the many amazing TV shows that Sheridan has created over the years. He spent decades acting in movies and had short cameos in TV shows, and while none of them was as big a hit as the Yellowstone Universe, his performance in some of them deserves a mention.
He has also proved to be a maestro of creating pieces on the untamed frontier with gripping sagas such as Lawmen: Bass Reeves and 1883. His masterpieces have a sense of crudeness and wildness while still feeling realistic, making them both entertaining and relatable. With so many great TV shows to his name, let’s explore the 10 best-performing TV shows of Taylor Sheridan’s career as an actor, writer, and director based on their IMDB scores…
10. The Last Cowboy – IMDB: 7.1
Featuring real-life cowboys, The Last Cowboy is Taylor Sheridan’s first reality show about the lives of cowboys who compete in the high-stakes sport of horse reining. The show delves into the little-known challenges of the sport and reveals the intensity involved, especially when its biggest-ever prize is on the line. The series brings together all types of riders, from amateurs to family dynasties, to compete in circuit races for a chance to qualify for ‘The Run For A Million,’ where the winner bags $1 million, the largest prize in the competition’s history.
The Last Cowboy is not as popular as Yellowstone or Taylor Sheridan’s other Westerns, but it is still one of the best reality shows about horse racing. It is addictive to watch, especially for equestrian-sport fans, with each episode covering the competitors on different circuits as they fight to qualify for the final competition.
9. Special Ops: Lioness – IMDB: 7.7
Starring Zoe Saldana, Laysla De Oliveira, and Morgan Freeman, Special Ops: Lioness is Taylor Sheridan’s first-ever spy thriller based on the story of a real-life team of female-only marines. The show follows Joe, a female Marine who is recruited to befriend the daughter of a terrorist in a bid to stop her father’s terrorist network. Taylor Sheridan took over the project from Thomas Brady, becoming the showrunner alongside Zoe Saldana and Nicole Kidman who also star in the show.
Special Ops: Lioness retains Sheridan’s ruggedness, intensity, and speed, and has all the action associated with his other projects. Despite being a female-focused spy thriller, the show incorporates lots of diverse characters, with all genders and nationalities that spice up the action. Although it didn’t perform as well as Sheridan’s other masterpieces, Lioness is still a great show.
8. Lawmen: Bass Reeves – IMDB: 7.8
The Yellowstone prequel 1883 was prematurely canceled after just one season, and Lawmen: Bass Reeves took its place. The show tells the story of the story of the famous 1800s US Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves (David Oyelowo) who was known as “the outlaw’s worst nightmare” on the frontier and said to be the inspiration behind the Lone Ranger. The show has all the thrill of a neo-western series, just like 1883, but from the eyes of a lawman, rather than an outlaw.
Despite covering the same time as 1883, Bass Reeves is an independent show and not linked to the Yellowstone franchise in any way. Lawmen: Bass Reeves was created by Chad Feehan and Taylor Sheridan acts as the executive producer alongside David Oyelowo who also stars in the titular role. The show was highly anticipated due to the fame of the Bass Reeves legend, although Oyelowo’s performance makes Reeves look more realistic.
7. Tulsa King – IMDB: 8.0
Starring Sylvester Stallone as Dwight ‘The General” Manifredi, Tulsa King is a crime drama about a New York Mafia capo who is banished to Tulsa, Oklahoma to start his own crime syndicate after serving 25 years in prison. The General has a lot of catching up to do, but his most important mission is to repair his broken relationship with his daughter and make right the wrongs that his former mafia boss and his capos did to him.
As expected, the combination of Stallone’s charm and Sheridan’s intricate writing makes for an interesting viewing which is why Tulsa King was renewed for a second season almost immediately. Sheridan created the show for Paramount+ and coproduces it with Terence Winter. Despite being Sylvester Stallone’s fast-ever scripted TV series, he brings the character to life with a warmth that makes Dwight Manfredi look charming and irresistible.
SEE ALSO: Tulsa King Season 2: What To Expect as Sylvester Stallone Returns to Oklahoma
6. Mayor of Kingstown – IMDB: 8.2
Based in the fictional town of Kingstown, Michigan, Mayor of Kingstown is Taylor Sheridan’s crime thriller that follows the McLusky family as they try to maintain peace in the troubled city where incarceration is the only industry. Kingstown has seven prisons within a 100-square-mile radius, which means the majority of residents are either ex-convicts, gang members, prison wardens, police officers, or other prison employees. The society is broken due to high levels of inequality, corruption, and systemic racism.
Taylor Sheridan cowrites the show whose writing and cinematography have a lot in common with Yellowstone. The show is co-created by Hugh Dillon who also stars as Ian Fergusson, a detective in the Kingstown Police Department. Jeremy Renner plays the titular character of “The Mayor” who is a mediator between gangs, prison guards, and cops to keep the peace.
5. 1923 – IMDB: 8.4
1923 is the second spinoff of Yellowstone, following the Dutton family four decades after they settled on the Yellowstone Ranch in Montana after the events in 1883. James Dutton’s brother Jacob and his wife Cara struggle to keep hold of the ranch against seemingly impossible financial and political odds in the face of the Great Depression. Donald Whitfield, a mining tycoon is also hellbent on taking the ranch from the Duttons, and the whole family, including James Dutton’s only surviving son, Spencer, do everything possible to keep the family legacy.
Featuring a stellar cast, including Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton and Helen Mirren as Cara Dutton, 1923 packs the excellence of Taylor Sheridan’s masterpiece. Like Yellowstone, 1923 features intense action and drama extending to the Broken Rock Indian Reservation where animosity against the Duttons already exists. 1923 also builds a closer base to Yellowstone than 1883 while retaining all the entertainment of the Wild West.
4. Veronica Mars – IMDB: 8.4
Set in the fictional affluent town of Neptune, California, where there is no middle class, Veronica Mars is a mystery thriller about the titular character who becomes a private investigator after the murder of her best friend. Veronica is just a teenager in high school when her friend is killed and her father, Keith Mars, who was also the sheriff, gets voted out of office forcing him to start a new career as a private investigator. Veronica then becomes her father’s assistant, helping him solve some of the darkest mysteries in their town.
Taylor Sheridan appears in five episodes as Danny Boyd, the pompous member of one of the wealthiest crime families in Neptune. The character doesn’t have a significant impact on the show, but it marked one of the longest appearances on TV for Sheridan before he shifted his focus to writing.
3. Sons of Anarchy – IMDB: 8.6
Sons of Anarchy is Kurt Sutter’s crime drama about a biker gang called the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO), which aired on FX between 2008 and 2014. The show follows Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller, (whose father led the gang before his death) through his life as the vice president and later president of the gang, as he coordinates the gang’s legal and criminal activities. Taylor Sheridan played Deputy Chief David Hale, an upstanding police officer who intends to bring down the gang which is revealed to be in bed with the local police chief.
The show was inspired by the real-life Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, with some club members starring in guest roles. Sheridan appeared in 21 episodes of the show’s first three seasons before his exit after what was later revealed to be a disagreement over pay. His exit from Sons of Anarchy propelled him to follow his career as a creator, although his performance in the show was also one of the best in his entire acting career.
2. 1883 – IMDB: 8.7
1883 was the first spinoff of Taylor Sheridan’s hit show Yellowstone, following the first Duttons on the perilous Oregon Trail before they settled in Montana. The family patriarch, James Dutton, is a true cowboy determined to make it as a rancher against all odds. His ambition is shared by his daughter Elsa, who narrates the story, as she proves herself as a real cowgirl on the trail. James Dutton faces endless perils on the journey across the frontier, including fighting off bandits, to get his family and cattle to Yellowstone.
The miniseries ended prematurely, after just one season, which means fans don’t get to see James Dutton and his family journey across the rest of the trail. However, it has all the features of a true western masterpiece, with more hands-on cowboys in action than Yellowstone. Like Yellowstone, 1883 was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan and was released to a positive reception on Paramount.
1. Yellowstone – IMDB: 8.7
This is the Taylor Sheridan masterpiece famed for reviving America’s interest in cable television after amassing record viewership numbers on Paramount. The series follows John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and his family as they struggle to keep their fictional Yellowstone Ranch in Montana’s Yellowstone Valley in the face of a huge political wave for modernization in the region fueled by powerful property developers. The Duttons also face animosity from the neighboring Broken Rock Indian Reservation led by their chief, Thomas Rainwater, who believes the ranch belongs to his people.
Despite existing in modern times, the Yellowstone ranch feels like the Old West, and the war between modernization and preservation is entertaining to watch. The series revived Taylor Sheridan’s career, and, although it is bound to wrap up after its fifth installment, its success has created a whole Universe that has given birth to more westerns covering the under-explored American ranching culture. Although Kevin Costner’s lead character is a big attraction, the show’s large supporting cast including the cowboys and cowgirls in the bunkhouse have become fan favorites over the show’s five seasons.
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