Yellowstone Prequel 1923: Is the TV Show Inspired by a True Story?

Image Credit: James Minchin III/Paramount+

‘1923’ is a Western drama series created by Taylor Sheridan. It stars Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren as Jacob and Cara Dutton, the heads of the Duttons, a family of ranchers who face several challenges in keeping hold of their ancestral Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. However, the family is forced to deal with the consequences of Western Expansion, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and World War I on their lives and precious land. Given the show’s references to various socio-cultural and socio-economic historical events, it is natural for viewers to wonder whether the story is based on actual events.

1923: A Fictional Tale in the Yellowstone Universe

‘1923’ tells a fictional story crafted by creator Taylor Sheridan. The show is set in Sheridan’s ‘Yellowstone‘ universe that began with the titular show’s debut in 2018. ‘1923’ serves as a spin-off of the parent show. On the other hand, the series is a continuation of some narrative arcs established in the prequel ‘1883.’ The three shows in the same universe are set during different time periods but explore the story of the same family, the Duttons. However, the family does not exist in reality, and their fictional history is told through the prequel shows, including ‘1923.’

Image Credit: Emerson Miller/Paramount+

‘1923’ takes place nearly forty years after the Duttons arrive in Montana and lay the foundation of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. The show incorporates elements of real history to give the Dutton family’s story a larger-than-life feel. The series explores life in the American West post the Western expansion of the late 19th century, which is the focus of its predecessor.

On the other hand, ‘1923’ dives deep into the hardships of the Prohibition era. In the United States, the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages were prohibited from 1920 to 1933. Prohibition significantly impacted the American West, especially concerning health, crime, politics, and the economy.

Meanwhile, the series also highlights the economic instability in America in the years leading up to the Great Depression of 1929 to 1939. The series also explores the aftermath of the First World War and its devastating effects on the American lifestyle, culture, and economy. Therefore, it is safe to say that ‘1923’ explores the social, cultural, political, and economic impact of several historical events through the life of the Duttons.

In a promotional video, creator Taylor Sheridan explained the reason behind exploring such historical events through the Dutton family’s experiences. “With 1923, you’re seeing another generation of the Dutton family at a time of Prohibition, at a time where the mountain west was truly a playground for the elite from the east. So, throughout all this expansion and evolution, these legacy ranches had to fight to keep their land,” he said. Thus, from Sheridan’s words, we can deduce that the show explores the historical events that defined life in American West during the early 20th century and showcase how they affected the Dutton family’s legacy.

As with Sheridan’s other shows in the franchise, ‘1923’ is also rooted in the Western and cowboy culture. It features several scenes that depict cowboys riding horses and performing ranching activities. Creator Taylor Sheridan himself worked on a ranch allowing him to craft a realistic depiction of cowboy life in the series. Furthermore, Sheridan set up a two-week cowboy camp for the show’s cast to learn skills such as horse riding to ensure an authentic portrayal on screen.

Ultimately, ‘1923’ is not a true story but a fictional one. It adds a new chapter to the Dutton family’s long and illustrious history. Moreover, the show defines Westerism during the titular period by incorporating real-life events that affected American West during the early 19th century. It showcases the cowboy and ranching culture and the difficulties ranchers faced during the time due to Western Expansion, Prohibition, World War I, and the Great Depression. Therefore, the story is rooted in reality and gives viewers a riveting portrayal of the Dutton family getting their foothold in Montana.

Read More: Is Yellowstone’s Prequel 1883 Based on a True Story?