Yellowstone’s breakthrough continues. A week after Taylor Sheridan’s series starring Kevin Costner wrapped its ratings record-breaking fourth season, Paramount Network’s Western this morning landed a SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
That is the top drama category at the SAG Awards, equivalent to Outstanding Drama Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Yellowstone will compete against another ratings phenom, Netflix’s global mega hit Squid Game, which made a strong SAG Awards debut with four nominations — including mentions for stars Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon — second only to a pair of awards juggernauts: HBO’s Succession and Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, which got five each.
This was the first time a non-English-language series has received SAG Award TV nominations. On the film side, fellow Korean production Parasite blazed the trail by winning the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture SAG Award in 2020 en route to a history-making Best Picture Oscar win.
The combined HBO/HBO Max topped the list of networks by a relatively wide margin with 14 TV nominations, followed by a close pack of three streamers: Netflix (10), Apple TV+ (nine) and Hulu (eight).
A lot has been written about Yellowstone being a show embraced by Middle America that does not appeal to “elites” enough to get awards. But the cowboy soap opera, which indeed initially caught on in smaller markets, mostly in the middle of the country where it is set, transcended its base this past season to hit it big in major cities and become a ratings powerhouse. Since Yellowstone is not available on Paramount+ due to a peculiar pre-existing streaming deal, new viewers flocked onto NBCU’s Peacock to catch up on previous seasons and join in for Season 4 on Paramount Network.
Season 4 set records multiple times with viewership levels not seen since the heyday of The Walking Dead, most recently with the finale, which drew 9.3 million total viewers in Live+Same Day (cume of 11 million on premiere night). That became the most-watched telecast on cable in more than four years, since The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere drew 11.4 million on AMC in October 2017.
Yellowstone’s only previous nomination at a major awards show is at the 2021 Emmys for Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More).
At the SAG Awards, Yellowstone also is carrying the flag for linear television as the only representative of broadcast or basic cable in the series categories. The broadcast networks, repped by This Is Us‘ Sterling K. Brown in the Actor In a Drama Series over the past couple of years, was shut out completely. Acclaimed cable series such as FX’s Pose and Reservation Dogs, did not make the list.
Yellowstone follows the Dutton family, led by John Dutton (Costner), who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States, which is under constant attack by those it borders – land developers, an Indian reservation and America’s first National Park.
In addition to Costner, the ensemble cast of Yellowstone‘s fourth season included Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie Smith, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, Finn Little, Ryan Bingham and Gil Birmingham with Will Patton.
“There’s no bigger compliment to an actor than being recognized by their peers,” Yellowstone co-creator/executive producer Sheridan said. “Congratulations to our incredibly talented cast on this wonderful and well deserved nomination.”