Netflix Going After Yellowstone With Dark Western Series

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

American Primeval

It may not be Tupac vs. Biggie, but a beef of sorts is shaping up in the world of contemporary Western series. That’s right: Netflix is poised to challenge Paramount’s reigning champ, Yellowstone—the number one show on stateside TV—with its gritty take on the American frontier, aptly titled American Primeval.

Netflix officially revealed its new series at its Next on Netflix gathering. Attendees were granted first-look access to the show and others slated for 2024; obviously, this title’s announcement—with its implied competition with Yellowstone—generated buzz. 

American Primeval is described as a raw exploration of the birth of the American West, entailing a narrative enriched by adventure, brutal conflict, and picturesque beauty.

The streaming giant also unveiled a minimal sneak peek of the series on YouTube, alongside glimpses of their other forthcoming 2024 titles. The six-episode series should plunge streamers into the American frontier’s dark, tumultuous early days. 

Dominating the TV landscape for its five seasons, Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone is a Neo-Western saga to rule them all—meaning American Primeval couldn’t have stiffer competition. Its gripping portrayal of ranching, power struggles, and the unflinching spirit of the American frontier has captivated audiences. In fact, the premier episode of its fifth season shattered records—attracting 12 million viewers across the US in November 2022.

Yellowstone Continues To Grow 

Yellowstone 1923

While Yellowstone’s end draws near, its legacy as a franchise continues via various spinoffs. These include 1923 (a prequel starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren) and 6666 (a series dealing with the famous, real-life Four Sixes Ranch in Texas). Other related projects are also in development. 

It may seem like an insurmountable wall of Western content, but Netflix, the most dominant streaming platform, remains undaunted. With American Primeval, the company that brought us “Netflix and chill” seeks to lasso, like a bucking steer, at least a slice of Yellowstone’s enormous—and enormously loyal—fanbase. 

Netflix’s American Primeval is described as a raw exploration of the birth of the American West, entailing a narrative enriched by adventure, brutal conflict, and picturesque beauty. Early reactions to the show’s teased footage have been positive and excitable, with many anticipating the Netflix series will outshine and overshadow Yellowstone in terms of intensity and violence. 

Representing a stark, unvarnished portrayal of the struggle for power and survival in the lawless, untamed American West, American Primeval features Taylor Kitsch, Jai Courtney, and Kyle Bradley Davis as leads—indicating Netflix’s dedication to achieving a high-caliber production. 

For their part, the streaming giant describes the narrative as a story of “violent collisions of cultures, religions, and communities.”

Its executive producer and director, Pete Berg, voiced similar excitement, expressing his eagerness to deliver a “dynamic, intense, and heart-pounding survival tale” to audiences. 

To hear him tell it, the series should volunteer an immersive and thrilling experience, depicting the upheavals and sacrifices faced by those who went West, rivaling Yellowstone and its various spin-offs.

Yellowstone’s Obstacles

Even without a project like American Primeval coming for its head, Yellowstone has faced obstacles of late.

Notably, behind-the-scenes challenges since the premiere of the fifth season, concerning an ongoing feud between the show’s chief creator, Sheridan, and its star, the ranch patriarch Kevin Costner. Their bad blood is so pronounced that rumor has it Costner may not even stick around long enough to finish the series. 

All of which sets American Primeval up perfectly. Look out for the dark Western and other intriguing titles on Netflix in 2024.