‘1883’: Why Paramount Ordered More Episodes Instead of Renewing the Series

by Leanne Stahulak

Last week, Paramount and Taylor Sheridan announced several projects that affect the growing “Yellowstone” and “1883” universe.

“1883” was the first spin-off show to be developed by Paramount. It launched this past December and has done extremely well for the streaming service. That’s partially why Paramount ordered more episodes of the prequel series. But, that’s not the same as renewing it for Season 2.

The difference, per Pajiba, has to do with both creative and financial decisions. From a financial standpoint, ordering more episodes of Season 1 costs less than renewing the show for Season 2. Actors don’t have to adjust their pay/contract, and other costs normally associated with renewing a season are cut.

Ordering more episodes of Season 1 likely has to do with expanding on the popularity of “1883” so far. But it also works from a creative point of view.

Based on what we saw in Episode 9, we can assume that the Duttons will soon land in Montana and make their home there. James Dutton promised Margaret that they’d find a peaceful place for Elsa to die and then build their home around her grave.

Perhaps that’s how the series was originally supposed to end. A one-and-done trip to show how the Duttons made it to Montana and began their ranching empire.

But with more “1883” episodes ordered, now Sheridan can dive into how that ranching empire began. Who the Duttons had to fight to keep what they found, how they built this incredible home that the modern-day Duttons enjoy. There’s a little bit more story to be squeezed out from the Duttons, but perhaps it’s just not enough for a full 10-episode season.

More ‘1883’ Episodes Can Help Connect It to ‘Yellowstone’ and ‘1932’

During “Yellowstone” Season 4, fans saw a few flashback scenes featuring “1883” stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. New episodes of “1883” could expand on those flashbacks and provide a bit more context to how the original Dutton founders relate to the modern-day family.

It can also really help fans relate to John Dutton as he struggles to hold onto the land that James founded. Now, we understand first hand what James and Margaret went through the create this new home for their family. We can appreciate why John is fighting so hard to win a losing battle. Because his ancestors fought for the same thing generations ago.

Speaking of generations of Duttons, perhaps more episodes of “1883” can also help set up “1932” later on. Paramount announced the second “Yellowstone” prequel series last week. It’s supposed to follow a new generation of Duttons as they experience the Great Depression and Prohibition.

More episodes of “1883” can establish John Dutton Sr., who’s currently five years old, and show him as he grows up more. Perhaps that will make it easier to understand his character in “1932” then.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what Taylor Sheridan does with the space to flesh out “1883” even more.