1923 Gives Us Too Many Duttons to Keep Track Of

Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for the first episode of 1923.

Sometimes, a universe just gets too big, and you have to accept that you’re not going to know who everyone is — and that is happening with the Yellowstone universe. Now that the latest spinoff 1923 has hit Paramount+, it’s becoming much too easy to lose track of what is going on and who is who. However, this is not your guide to that. This is my plea for a sequence of name tags on these new characters or at least a clearer idea of what happened in their lives so we can get on board more quickly — because I’m going to be very honest, I don’t really know who anyone is, except for Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford) and Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren).

In looking up the Dutton family tree (yes, that’s how bad it is for me), it is easier to understand what is happening on 1923, because if you missed 1883 (or just haven’t gotten to it yet) this show could be a bit confusing. The direct lineage goes from Faith Hill and Tim McGraw‘s James Dutton and Margaret Dutton but after their deaths, James’ brother Jacob Dutton raises their kids with his wife Clara. Those kids go on to have kids who have kids, and that’s how we get to John Dutton and the family we see on Yellowstone.

In between all those kids are a lot more Duttons that branch off, as any family tree does, but the small issue that exists within 1923 is that if you’re not paying the best attention, you might miss that these are all James and Margaret’s kids — and then you find yourself confused as to why Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) is suddenly South Africa hunting big game. Let’s talk a bit about why having this many moving parts works for the show, as well as what doesn’t work.

RELATED: ‘1923’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Reveals the Insane Price Tag Attached to ‘Yellowstone’ Spinoff

What Works About ‘1923’

Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton and Helen Mirren as Cara Dutton in 1923
Image via Paramount+

Yellowstone as a show works because we have enough knowledge of all the cast at this point built over the last five seasons that they can throw something at us from Season 1 and keep going. 1923 is taking that same approach. They want you to do your own homework with the characters, and it does fit in and flow with the way that the franchise as a whole has been introducing these characters. It works too because we’re separated throughout different storylines.

Right now, Yellowstone has frequently been in one place, and while we’re possibly heading to Texas soon with Rip and the ranchers in Season 5, that’s going to be a new venture for us. With 1923, we’re already with Spencer in Africa and in different places throughout Montana and at the ranch, but that change of pace from the normal hanging out at Yellowstone is helpful in learning about these characters and how they all differ from each other.

What Doesn’t Work About ‘1923’

Image via Paramount+

Well, to be honest, what doesn’t work is the sheer number of Duttons without any prior knowledge of these characters. Look, when it comes to big universes like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the newly forming DCU, these are faces we’ve known and loved for decades, so we can easily remember some secondary character and arc because we’ve lived with it. With a show like 1923, you’re instantly thrown in and forced to wade through the water to figure out who is who and what is what.

What the show ends up doing, in this case, is forcing you to pick a favorite and just focus your energy there. For me, I’m lucky because I’ve decided to tailor my focus to Ford’s Jacob Dutton, so I think I’ll make it out of 1923 and do so pretty well. Taking into account all the children that James and Margaret had, though, forces viewers to suss out how they’ll play into the Yellowstone we’re seeing in modern times.

What we do know, ultimately, is that we’ll get to John Dutton Jr. eventually and that the line will carry on down to Kevin Costner’s John Dutton but other than that, we don’t yet know how all these random nieces, nephews, sons, and daughters will lead into the main show. Until we do, we’ll just have to go through the motions of the ranching life at Yellowstone in 1923, back before the Great Depression and during Prohibition, with Ford and Mirren leading the charge. But seriously, though, can someone please draw us an official family tree to connect all of these shows to each other in the meantime?

#Duttons #Track

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