Rutherford Falls features a telling substitute for Yellowstone
peacock Rutherford Falls gave audiences a healthy dose of comedy with its second season. More than just making people laugh, however, the show never shy away from making necessary remarks about the portrayal of Native American cultures in the media. The early Season 2 episodes poke fun at the way horror movies have treated native lore, as well as the misguided and performative apologies from people in the public light. In episode 5, “Adirondack S3”, Rutherford Falls seems to be tackling a giant of the modern television landscape by creating its own Yellowstone substitute. The series draws attention to some of the problematic aspects of this show in a tongue-in-cheek way that maintains the humor while landing on its point.
The fictional show within the show Adirondack is in its third season and beloved by each character’s parents. Even though Reagan (Jana Schmieding) describes it as “offensive,” it’s supposed to have an audience rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The team behind the fiction Adirondack reached out to the Minishonka Nation to serve as cultural consultants on a particular episode loaded with “Native American-inspired” events. Terry (Michael Greyeyes) is eager to accept and begin the process of transforming his town into a paradise for Hollywood shoots. However, the pair quickly discover that the series isn’t as keen as it seems to tackle precision. When the white Adirondack the writers fail to make any of the changes Reagan and Terry demanded, Terry bends over and encourages more “obviously offensive” and stereotypical portrayals in the hope that public outrage will be inevitable and will eventually teach Adirondack a lesson.
But Adirondack seems to be more than just a plot point for Rutherford Falls — it also looks like Paramount Network Yellowstone. Both shows are named after American Parks in a nutshell and have cultivated a large fanbase, but the similarities run deeper. Yellowstone has had its share of controversy surrounding its portrayal of Indigenous characters and plots. Initial casting decisions met with anger after actor Kelsey Asbille Cherokee identity could not be provenand viewers criticized the presentation of land struggles and the drama of the American frontier through the eyes of white protagonists.
Rutherford Falls solved his Adirondack problem when Reagan’s ex-boyfriend (Schitt’s Creekby Dustin Milligan) leaked controversial photos from the set, causing the public outcry that Terry had hoped for. While this process seemed to end well in Rutherford Fallsnothing seems to be able to stop the juggernaut from Yellowstone. The show has spawned a series of spin-offs and prequels and is currently filming its fifth season, despite a situation very similar to what is shown in Rutherford Falls. One of the last episodes of season 4 features a white protagonist in a sacred ceremony, but without the same consequences as Adirondack confronted.
Socket Yellowstone to the task seems more important than ever for Rutherford Falls‘ second season, which deals with land reclamation issues for Indigenous communities in the United States When Peacock, the network currently airing the two shows, suggested on Twitter that viewers celebrate the 4th of July by watching Yellowstone (and admiring the figures), Schmieding stepped onto the platform to express her umbrage. She replied that viewers would be better off watching a show that engages with the Land Back movement and shows Indigenous lands being returned, an idea that is being pioneered in Yellowstone but never seriously followed in favor of allowing white protagonists to reassert their family claim to the territory. Both Yellowstone and Rutherford Falls stay entwined, even beyond the show-within-the-show Adirondack.
Rutherford Falls draws attention to emissions issues such as Yellowstone in a way that remains lighthearted, especially because Terry’s intervention actually works. Adirondack can serve as a lesson in the lingering issues surrounding Indigenous representation in Hollywood – not just on screen but also behind the scenes.
Watch season 2 of Rutherford Falls, streaming now on Peacock.