'Yellowstone': John Dutton's reluctance to let daughter Beth lead the ranch shows how gender trumps talent
Paramount Network's flagship show 'Yellowstone' is a story about legacy and inheritance.
John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner, own the largest contiguous ranch in America. The ranch, however, is constantly under threat from land developers, the neighbouring Native American reservation, and America's first national park.
As the sixth generation patriarch of the Dutton family, John is in a race against time to not only ensure that that the ranch is safe from external powers but also pass on the Dutton legacy.
John has four children: three sons and a daughter.
His oldest son Lee (played by Dave Annable) is killed at the beginning of the series.
At that time, Lee was the ranch's head of security and, in John's eyes, his successor.
However, things go downhill after Lee's demise as the looming threats around the Dutton ranch begin creeping in on the family and their property.
It now boils down to Wes Bentley's Jamie Dutton and Luke Grimes' Kayce Dutton.
Jamie's political aspirations clash with John's fierce passion to protect his ranch. In fact, he disagrees on a lot of things with Jamie, to an extent that there is even an altercation between them. In the second season, John takes concrete steps towards keeping Jamie out of the Dutton family.
On the other hand, there is Kayce, who struggles with issues of his own. For the longest time, Kayce had chosen to stay away from the Dutton ranch, becoming a US Navy Seal. Upon returning, he chooses to stay with his Native American wife Monica Dutton and their son. Kayce has shows disregard for his father's methods and ways several times. This was exactly what pushed him away from John in the first place.
That leaves us with Beth, played by Kelly Reilly.
The most efficient of the Dutton children, Beth is suddenly thrown into the spotlight following the untimely death of her mother. She is tasked with the impossible—"holding together a family of broken men as they attempt to surmount impossible odds".
Even when the war is raging all around her, Beth is unrelenting in her duties and her dedication to John, who loves her back equally.
She has time and again proven her mettle to lead the ranch and has done everything in her might to protect the family and the Dutton legacy.
She is fierce and not one to back down, having learnt this from the best—her father. The fire for the Dutton legacy that thrives in Beth's heart is absent when it comes to her brothers.
Yet, time and again, we see John struggling to make the decision of entrusting the ranch to Beth.
At this point, it feels like Beth is a lot more his corporate henchman than a possible heir. She is also nicknamed Hatchet Man by many who know her. While all the work goes into protecting the 'Dutton' land, so much of the work is done by Beth alone.
This is a classic case of a patriarch overlooking a completely capable and dedicated daughter when it comes to passing on his legacy.
We have seen this trope on 'Game of Thrones' as well. Lord Tywin Lannister (played by Charles Dance) is a brutal man. Of all his three children, it is only Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) who has inherited his admirable qualities: a firm hand and brutality.
Her twin, Ser Jaime Lannister (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), on the other hand, has always been the golden boy loved by all in the family.
Her younger brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage), whom she hates, was never meant for the throne or a position of power.
Cersei never got what she rightly deserved. The very famous dialogue between the father and daughter—"Your legacy is a lie"—reiterates the point that Cersei was never a choice for Tywin despite her being more than deserving.
If Cersei was to have the support of her father as the successor of the Lannister clan, they wouldn't have crumpled the way it did.
Beth, just like Cersei, is powerful and smart. She has proved time and again—despite her dysfunctionalities—that she deserves to head Yellowstone.
So why does John Dutton hesitate?