Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
All families have problems, except my own, of course (I love you all). What better place to air out all your issues than on TV? The Addams Family, All In The Family, Family Matters, Modern Family… countless sitcoms have been based around conflicts within the family unit. But let's face it… drama is where it's at these days. Just ask the Roys or Sopranos.
November has arrived, and two of TV’s finest family dramas have brought their angst with them. Both families are led by a strong leader unwilling to leave the past. Both leaders are government employees, one new at his job and one who has done it for a lifetime. Their eldest sons have been ignored and passed over, their daughters are emotional messes figuring out their lives, and everyone is out to get them as they live in the public eye. Get ready for not one, but two Season 5s premiering this week!
The Crown returns this Wednesday on Netflix, and Yellowstone is back Sunday night at 8:00 PM ET on the Paramount Network. We've got royalty on both sides of the pond, so let's break down these families piece by piece.
Head of the Table: Imelda Staunton takes on the mighty role of Queen Elizabeth II, leading an all-new crew of actors playing the royal family and its associates. The queen has given her life for her country at great expense. Her marriage, family, and social standing have taken many hits. But everyone, and I mean everyone, looks to her royal highness for guidance, wisdom, and above all... approval.
Exchange the crown for a cowboy hat, and things are no different in the mountains of Montana. John Dutton is the head of his family who constantly sacrifices to keep his land and dignity at any price. This season, John moves into government not by choice, but by necessity. His progeny are difficult to manage, but all eventually bow to his whim.
The First Sons: Prince Charles wanted the throne, but he also desired a different life companion. The Prince of Wales always appeared awkward in public and wrapped around his mom's little finger. When his wife out-shined him in public, he couldn't compete. He sought his mother's approval his entire life and was consistently overshadowed. Serious mommy issues.
Jamie Dutton fights a similar battle. All he wants is his father's respect and an occasional hug. Jamie resents his father, and the feeling is mutual. And now John is entering Jamie's political realm. He was supposed to be the political star, but he’s been usurped by his father who always casts a shadow. Serious daddy issues.
The Princesses: Princess Anne got lost in the Royal shuffle, but she was willing to play by the rules and find her own path. The throne would never be hers and managing relationships within the family proved to be a tough task. Anne gets overlooked but is stronger than most members of her clan. She just struggles with staying sane in her crazy world.
Things are a bit different with Beth Dutton, who doesn't take any crap from anybody. She is tough as nails and commands her father's respect. Beth is driven, determined and a true difference maker regardless of any consequences. Beth loves a good fight and often is the one stirring things up. She's everything Jamie could never be to her father.
The Beautiful Ones: Lady Diana Spencer rescued the monarchy from irrelevance. Charles was miserable, but Di had a smile that conquered the world. The suffering shown behind the scenes makes her plight all the more painful to watch. This monarchy was not what she signed up for, but she is determined to make the best of it.
Kayce Dutton just wants to be a cowboy, but things aren't that easy in his part of Montana. His rocky relationship with his Native American wife and son has been difficult to manage. Kayce finds himself in jobs that he had no intention of taking on. He resents his father but loves the land he lives on. The future of the ranch is in Kayce's hands, and he knows it.
The Destiny: Many historical dramas fail to overcome the most difficult hurdle facing them — we all know what happens. That's what makes the storytelling in The Crown so impressive. Charles is going to pout. Diana is going to take that fateful ride. The Queen is going to survive until 2022. But it doesn't matter because the characters are so rich.
All we know about this upcoming season of Yellowstone is that John Dutton is about to take office. His dealings, shady or otherwise, don't differ all that much from the political realm. But now he's directly in the public eye and will have to maneuver around crafty politicians. Jamie and Beth are destined to be in his cabinet, and the platform of protecting Montana will be a struggle in modern times.
The final parallel to draw between these programs is that they are excellent shows that pull no punches. They feature top notch writing, excellent acting, beautiful cinematography, and intense lessons in mortality and morality. In other words, great television. Welcome back.
Here’s what else is worth watching on TV this week:
Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals (HBO)
Wednesday, November 9
NFL Films beautifully recaptures NFL training camp magic during the regular season going behind the scenes with one of the most talented teams playing in a tough division. Take a closer look at how these athletes and coaches get through the grind of any given Sunday week after week. Watch trailer.
Tulsa King (Paramount+)
Sunday, November 13
Sylvester Stallone tries to follow in Kevin Costner's footsteps jumping to the small screen in yet another Taylor Sheridan vehicle. Sly plays a New York mafia captain who gets out of prison and is sent to run things in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire) is the show runner, and the cast is stacked in drama best served up by the man who has built contemporary Paramount television. Watch trailer.
The English (Prime Video)
Friday, November 11
Emily Blunt stars in a rough and tumble turn of the 19th century Wyoming western — BBC style. Watch trailer.
THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
The Calling (Peacock) – This eight-episode David E. Kelley crime series follows a NYPD detective who follows his instincts and spirits that he senses. Thursday.
Mammals (Prime Video) – James Corden is a decorated chef whose marriage falls apart in this dark British comedy. Friday.
Mythic Quest (Apple TV+) – Season 3 of the video game company comedy deals with defections and new rivalries. Friday.
Rogue Heroes (Epix) – The creator of Peaky Blinders tells the story of the creation of Britain's Special Air Service. Sunday at 9:00 ET.
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick: Homeland (Showtime) — A Marine captain (Damian Lewis) returns home following eight years of captivity in Iraq, and CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is convinced he's up to no good. Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) provides government help in this intelligent drama which keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Warrior (HBO Max)
Oz (HBO Max)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (Netflix)
It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video)
The Office (UK) (Hulu)
The Prisoner (Prime Video)
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
The Great (Hulu)
Magic City (Peacock)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
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Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.
TOPICS: The Crown, Netflix, Paramount Network, Yellowstone