ChatGPT vs Me: Yellowstone and the inevitable march of progress

Since Yellowstone is a show about a man standing firm in the face of progress, I thought I would let this blog post take a similar theme. Below you’ll find my human-written post and two posts written by ChatGPT. What do you think: Is The Wandering Lostie at risk of losing out to the robots?

I binged Yellowstone so I can have a chance to hold a conversation with my parents over the holidays. They—like a large swath of America—are obsessed with the western drama. I gave it a raised eyebrow when it premiered. Kevin Costner on a horse is worth a try. But early reviews were not good. I wrote it off as a lame attempt to plug a famous movie star into a trashy TV show. 

Then mom and dad would not shut up about it. They needed the clothes. (Surprisingly hard to find back then. Now you can shop by character.) They discovered other people who watched and talked about it with them in person. This must have been what it was like to live in the J.R. Ewing era. And somehow they found it without the kids having to tell them what channel is Paramount Network. That’s when you know a show is popular.

When I found out my Comcast internet package includes Peacock Premium, I figured this is the right time to catch up. Wait, what? You just said it’s on Paramount Network but you’re catching up on Peacock? Yep. Because of a massive oopsie, Paramount Network’s biggest show streams on Peacock. The business of Hollywood is a spaghetti mess, and selling the rights to Yellowstone might bring more money than Paramount would earn from new and recurring subscribers.  But as all streamers desperately search for profitability, the execs at Paramount can’t be thrilled about their smash hit streaming somewhere else. As a brand marketer I’m dying inside over it. Their excuse is Paramount+ didn’t exist when Yellowstone premiered. Remember CBS All Access? It already included other Paramount/CBS/Viacom content. Seems like a no-brainer to me. I digress. 

I sat down for episode one expecting to see cheap, shallow television. I was wrong to assume. (Cheap in the narrative sense, not financially. One look at the sweeping ranch setting tells you this show costs money.) Yellowstone doesn’t try to explore characters like Breaking Bad or weave complexity like Lost. No one is going to come full circle on or end the show a different person than they began it. They’re all caught in a loop of anger and unhappiness.

Instead it blends universal themes other modern shows succeeded with:

Messed up kids and a bad dad. Yellowstone is Succession on a ranch. Jamie, Kayce and Beth Dutton are Kendall, Shiv and Roman Roy. Children of an bad father they can never please. None of them are happy. Jamie always thinks he’s one act of paternal service away from the approval his father will never give him. Beth stopped maturing the moment her mother died. Kayce is a real man with emotions struggling to live in a culture of Stetson men. Now that I think about it, Beth and Kendall would make a great couple. Hideous human beings deserve each other. 

Detestable characters like these (except for Kayce, who you could hang with and not feel dirty about it) can only succeed if the acting is too damn good to ignore. Both shows deliver. These six actors perform at the peak of their craft.

The inevitable march of progress. 

“I want everything that John Dutton has. I want the Yellowstone.” — Thomas Rainwater, Chief of the Broken Rock Reservation. 

“I don’t know how to kill cattle. You stupid fuckinging redneck. I’ll tell you what I do know how to do. I know how to crush empires. And I will crush your father’s.” — Dan Jenkins, California real estate developer, to Kayce Dutton.

“I am the opposite of progress. I am the wall it bashes against. And I will not be the one who breaks.” – John Dutton, owner of Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.

This is Downton Abbey on a ranch. Robert Crawley isn’t the stubborn bastard John Dutton is, but they both face the reality that their families’ way of life is incompatible with where the outside world is going. The Earl of Grantham does his best to make the transition easy. John Dutton would rather die (and damn near has). He may beat back Dan Jenkins, but there will always be another Malcom Beck. Another Market Equities. Progress never relents. I think we’ll know which Dutton inherits the ranch by the end of this show. Maybe it’s him, maybe it’s her. Maybe it’s grandson Tate. John’s loss of what family truly means makes certain they will be the one who breaks.

Money and power. Wealth is subdued on Yellowstone. The Duttons are extremely comfortable, and I think it’s smart for the show to not give them an opulent Roy-like lifestyle. John Dutton eating caviar would feel off. 

They are, however, rich in power. Political nepotism is not a concern here. John controls the Montana Livestock Association, which Jamie and Kayce both commissioned and everyone just kinda went along with it (his dead son, Lee, was also an agent). When Montana’s Attorney General wanted to step aside, there was no real debate about Jamie Dutton being next (until John changed his mind, which got ugly). Governor Lynelle Perry (who John is fucking) had no problems shepherding John to be her replacement. 

No one in fictional Montana seems to care about this, and that’s just as well. I don’t think this show would be very good at telling political stories. It does enough to establish that John fortified his thus far impenetrable wall with as much political power as he could tolerate. Season five shows him as a miserably bad governor, and I hope they don’t spend too much time making that a problem for him. His challenges should come from outside, not inside. 

Parents. Progress. Power. They’ve driven a lot of great television. They have another hit on their hands with Yellowstone. And this year I’ll have something to talk to my parents about on Sunday nights. 

—————-

ChatGPT Prompt 1: Write me a blog post comparing Yellowstone to Succession and Downton Abbey.

Yellowstone, Succession, and Downton Abbey are three popular TV shows that have captivated audiences around the world. While they may seem very different at first glance, they all share some common themes and elements that make them interesting and engaging to watch.

First, let’s take a look at Yellowstone. This show follows the lives of the Dutton family, who own and operate the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. Set in the beautiful and rugged landscape of Montana, Yellowstone showcases the struggles and triumphs of the Dutton family as they fight to protect their land and legacy from outside forces.

Succession, on the other hand, is a show about a wealthy and powerful family who own a global media and entertainment conglomerate. The show explores the cutthroat world of corporate politics and the dysfunctional relationships within the family as they fight for control of the company.

Finally, there’s Downton Abbey, which is set in the early 1900s and follows the lives of the Crawley family and their servants in a fictional English country estate. The show explores the societal changes and challenges that the family faces as they try to maintain their traditional way of life in a rapidly modernizing world.

Despite their differences in setting and time period, all three shows share some common themes. First and foremost, they all focus on the dynamics within wealthy and powerful families. The Duttons, Roys, and Crawleys are all dealing with their own internal struggles and conflicts as they fight to protect their interests and maintain their positions at the top.

Additionally, all three shows explore the challenges that come with trying to hold onto power and wealth in a rapidly changing world. The Duttons must grapple with the encroachment of outsiders on their land, the Roys must navigate the cutthroat world of corporate politics, and the Crawleys must adapt to the shifting societal norms of the early 20th century.

Finally, all three shows feature complex and well-developed characters who are struggling to find their place in the world. The Duttons, Roys, and Crawleys are all dealing with their own personal issues and flaws, and the show does a great job of exploring their motivations and desires.

In conclusion, while Yellowstone, Succession, and Downton Abbey may seem very different at first glance, they all share some common themes and elements that make them engaging and interesting to watch. Whether you’re a fan of the beautiful Montana landscape, the cutthroat world of corporate politics, or the opulent world of English country estates, these shows have something for everyone.

ChatGPT Prompt 2: Write a blog post about how you overcame your initial reservations to enjoy watching Yellowstone. In the post, identify other televisions shows with similar themes and compare them to Yellowstone.

When I first heard about Yellowstone, I was hesitant to watch it. The premise of the show – a family fighting to protect their land and way of life in the face of outside pressures – didn’t seem all that interesting to me. I was also put off by the fact that it was a modern-day Western, a genre that I had never been particularly drawn to. But, after hearing some positive buzz about the show, I decided to give it a try. And I’m glad I did, because Yellowstone ended up becoming one of my favorite shows.

One of the things that I love about Yellowstone is the way it portrays the struggles of the Dutton family. They are constantly facing challenges – from hostile neighboring landowners and greedy developers to environmental activists and government bureaucrats – and are forced to make tough decisions in order to protect their land and their way of life. The show does an excellent job of portraying the complex issues that the Duttons deal with, and it forces the viewer to think about the difficult choices that people have to make in order to survive in a rapidly changing world.

As I continued to watch Yellowstone, I began to see similarities between it and other shows that I enjoy. For example, the family dynamics on the show are reminiscent of those on shows like This Is Us and Friday Night Lights, where the characters are forced to overcome obstacles and work together in order to achieve their goals. The themes of family, loyalty, and perseverance are also present in shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, where the main characters are caught up in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Despite these similarities, however, Yellowstone stands out as a unique and compelling show. The beautiful cinematography, strong performances, and well-written story all come together to create a show that is both engaging and thought-provoking. If you’re someone who enjoys shows that tackle complex themes and feature richly drawn characters, then I highly recommend giving Yellowstone a try. You may find, like I did, that it quickly becomes one of your favorite shows.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s