Yellowstone Prequel 1923 Really Earned Its TV-MA Rating
The series does not shy away from the rugged side of ranch life.
Now that Season 1 of 1923 is over, viewers who haven’t hitched their wagon to the Dutton family’s train can rest easy knowing that they can binge a whole season in a weekend without having to wait for the next episode. But what age is 1923 appropriate for? Can you watch with your children? With teenagers? Here’s what you need to know about the series before tuning in...
Warning: Spoilers for Season 1 of 1923 ahead!
1923 is the second prequel to the hit series Yellowstone.
Anyone who got swept up in the range dramas of Yellowstone knows that the Dutton family is not one you want to mess with, and 1883 and 1923 show us that that’s pretty much always been the case. 1883, a 10-part miniseries that premiered in Dec. 2021, starred Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Sam Elliot. It told the story of how the Duttons came to Montana and established the Yellowstone Ranch. In an interesting twist, we still don’t exactly know how the characters in 1923 are related to the characters on Yellowstone, but there sure are a lot of fan theories, and we’re excited to find out.
1923 takes place 40 years after 1883.
Yellowstone Ranch is now in the capable hands of Jacob and Cara Dutton (played by Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren), who came to the ranch in 1894 after the death of Jacob’s brother, John, and sister-in-law, Margaret. Jacob and Cara raised their nephew, also named John, who now works alongside them with his wife Emma, and newly engaged son, Jack. But while the family is loving and, initially, happy, Yellowstone land is being threatened by sheep ranchers who can’t seem to stay on their own property...
Spencer, John’s brother who was also raised by Jacob and Cara, can’t help: he’s off in Africa where he works as a (begrudgingly famous) hunter, haunted by inner demons instilled in him while serving in World War I. There he meets Alexandra, with whom he begins a passionate love affair.
The series also follows Teonna Rainwater, a Crow teenager being “educated” (read: abused in every way possible) at a residential school run by the Catholic church.
1923 is not a show for sensitive souls.
When it comes to “adult themes,” 1923 is not shy, from course language, to nudity, to mature, often disturbing themes, the series does not hold back. But it’s the brutal violence that will surely be most jarring for young and sensitive viewers. Any scene that takes place in the residential school is brutal, especially since the myriad, neverending abuses suffered by the Native captives of the “school” are based in historical fact. Even those who don’t shy away from gore may find it difficult to watch.
Common Sense Media recommends 1923 for viewers 15 and older. Parents on the site set the bar a bit higher at 18 (though the chief complaint among said reviews is nudity and sex scenes, which are far less graphic than scenes of abuse and rarely rise above something one might see in a PG-13 movie, though there are exceptions).
As always, every family has their own sense of what’s right for their kids, but in general, we at Romper wouldn’t recommend children below high school age watching this one – 15 feels about right.
Season 2 of 1923 has already been announced.
Which is a good thing because there’s a lot of ground left to cover in the various stories 1923 is telling. When Season 1 ends, the Yellowstone Ranch is in peril as a dangerous, sadistic businessman holds the deed over the heads of the Duttons; Spencer and Alex are separated after a duel at sea gone awry; Jack and his fiancée Elizabeth suffer together through a miscarriage; and Teonna and her father are on the run from the law and are heading into Comanche territory for refuge. And not to mention, as previously stated, we still don’t quite know how all of this will influence the events of Yellowstone. We don’t know when Season 2 of 1923 will be out, but we can’t wait.