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Kevin Costner series “Yellowstone” is back as it sharpens its focus on politics

Yellowstone” is one of those riddles of the TV industry—a show with high numbers but not usually much recognition, much like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield. Last year, the phrase “Here’s to Yellowstone, the most-watched show everyone isn’t talking about” from a Vanity Fair title encapsulated this dynamic.

Even if it doesn’t result in Emmy nominations, in television, success is typically the best form of retaliation. The new season of the Paramount Network drama nevertheless strives for what seems like a little bit more significance by taking a sharper turn into politics to go along with all of the soapy events centered around Kevin Costner‘s character, John Dutton, and his expansive ranch.

Of course, Montana politics have been a part of the show from the start. However, Dutton entered the race for governor last season, which put him in a situation that “was never my plan,” as he states in his victory speech at the start of the fifth season.

Yellowstone,” which is already known as a modern western, stays true to its cowboy roots, and Dutton is honest about his concerns about big-city interests and wealthy tourists who want to use Montana and its beautiful mountains as a playground instead of a place to live.

In fact, Dutton candidly declares, “I fight for what’s right,” bringing the same reserved, square-jawed ideals to politics as he does to business and dealing with his family. I don’t really give a damn who backs it.

There’s a lot more to the series than that, of course, but Dutton’s new role as the kind of principled, no-nonsense public official that almost anyone would hope to see on the ballot regardless of policy preferences could help set the latest dramatic arc of the show apart from the influx of related spinoffs from Paramount. In addition to “1883,” which came out last year and was directed by Sam Elliott, the prequel “1932,” starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, will be released on the streaming site Paramount+ in December.

Another recent Paramount+ series, “Tulsa King,” with another seasoned actor, Sylvester Stallone, playing a New York mobster exiled to Oklahoma after escaping jail, was created by “Yellowstone” patriarch Taylor Sheridan.

In a way, “Yellowstone” and its many sequels seem to prove that, despite how much the entertainment industry evolves, some things never truly go out of style. In this case, star power, which Costner (who has done more to keep Westerns alive than any other contemporary actor) abundantly provides, and traditional soap-opera plot lines.

Who knows if you add a dash of patriotism à la “The West Wing”? Even more buzz about “Yellowstone” could result from the new season.

The fifth season of “Yellowstone” debuts on November 13 at 8 p.m. ET on the Paramount Network.