Why Tim McGraw Is Perfect for ‘1883’ — and Faith Hill Is, Too!
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were surprise picks to lead the new Yellowstone spinoff 1883, but the selection proves creator Taylor Sheridan and his team are paying attention. Despite a thin acting resume for both artists — although McGraw has carried movies before — the two stand to have a great chance at making memories on Paramount+.
Think about it: One of country music's most well-known couples are about to play husband and wife on a television show that isn't afraid to stretch a PG-13 rating. The potential for an "if the wagon's a-rockin'" kinda love scene isn't why we're here, though. Sure, when it happens we'll probably talk about it until Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani give us something else to talk about, but there are plenty of real-life acting couples available for this kind of provocation.
A condensed list of McGraw acting credits includes critically-acclaimed roles in The Blind Side, Country Strong, The Shack and Friday Night Lights, a Billy Bob Thorton film that is somehow closing in on its 20-year anniversary. Cut to that movie (at about 1:30 in this clip) for evidence that McGraw is mean like a Dutton. He'll playing family patriarch James Dutton in 1883, and if John Dutton's great-grandson is anything like him, there's going to be blood and bruises.
Two years later, in 2006, Flicka was released. The somewhat sappy father-daughter story showcases the actor's cowboy credibility, as there was, in general, a lot of horseback riding and outdoorsing happening through the entire film. At one point, McGraw's character Rob McLaughlin lassos a runaway horse, but that was just a stunt double, right?
McGraw says he grew up on horseback, and, indeed, he looked pretty comfortable riding throughout the film. These days you're more likely to find him in a classic sports car than on the back of a bronco, but those skills are real. Shoutout to Hill for capturing this for her Instagram followers in June 2020:
Before we get to Faith's cowboy credibility as matriarch Margaret Dutton, a word about why this casting makes sense as a business move. Certain shows have figured out that casting country in believable ways is good for viewership. It's why Luke Bryan is on American Idol, Blake Shelton is on The Voice and both shows will always provide a heavy does of the music that made Nashville famous. Dancing With the Stars occasionally does, too, and that's about it. It's been a long time since a bankable country artist had his or her own show (although Reba McEntire keeps trying).
To be blunt: Country fans love Yellowstone. It's a show that appeals to the format's rural sensibilities, and it's a show that appeals to an older demographic. That's a demo that hasn't been getting much love lately, with content creators packing the pond with bait to attract young audiences. The hot, new thing is always "hot" and "new" (read: young), leaving those over 40 or 50 years old feeling ... well, old. Evidence that this show appeals to an older audience was collected from our internal metrics, but also from reports in publications like the Hollywood Reporter that show the coveted 25-54 year old demographic is doubling year-over-year for the Kevin Costner show and its network.
Why is this important? Because Paramount+ isn't free, and the older a person gets, the more disposable income that person might have to spend on additional streaming platforms. McGraw and Hill also appeal to that demo, and they bring a huge country audience, and there is the potential for an occasional romp in the wagon.
The question shouldn't be "Why Tim and Faith?" but "Why not Tim and Faith?"
Sam Elliott is the third of the three main characters announced to preview Season 1 of 1883, checking all the same boxes as McGraw and Hill.
Nonetheless, skepticism around Hill's casting is understandable. Thus far, she's been in just two movies: The Stepford Wives in 2004 and Dixieland in 2017. Few people know her as "Arletta" from the latter, but they recall her short, but memorable, scenes in the Nicole Kidman flick. Her character did not have a lot of depth, to say the least.
So, fans of the Yellowstone franchise are just going to have to have faith. Sheridan and his team haven't made any poor casting choices yet. We'd pay a year of Paramount+ up front if we were promised we'd see Hill do this to some prairie scoundrel: