Yellowstone Fans React to Summer Higgins in Episode 5

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Yellowstone’s fifth episode was really … something. Sex. Dramatic dinner talk. Spontaneous fist fights. Like with a fantastic train wreck and the finest telenovela, one feels guilty watching so closely.

Fans’ reactions to the episode—which saw Summer Higgins and her left-leaning neo-vegan worldview clash and then soften against America’s ranching heartland—were similarly confused, angered, and somewhat betrayed. Many feel Yellowstone‘s writing remains on autopilot after some early series brilliance.

The target of criticism this week is the Summer storyline, which represents what feels particularly grating about the show lately: it’s preachiness. On a post Episode 5 Reddit discussion thread, one user posed the dilemma: “I’m trying to wrap my head around what we are supposed to enjoy about the Summer storyline.” Us too.

Replies to the thread see the enjoyment as some political schadenfreude: we’re meant to experience joy simply watching our heroes beat the crap—literally and argumentatively—out of the show’s token environmentalist. Or, as one user put it: “Owning the libs and propping up Queen Karen, Beth Dutton. That’s why city slicker Jamie bad, rural hero John blameless.”

That sentiment was repeated by others who see Summer as an example of the show’s characterization of liberals; much of the series’ “villains” are California land developers and coastal elites. (Each season also seems to feature the motif of Beth berating some smug Ivy leaguer at a bar.) The series is using these scenes to have one version of America beat up on another—is how some Redditors perceive the writing.

The Summer storyline also feels particularly stupid because Summer herself is presented as an easy target. Her ideology is a strawman—an easily refutable version of a more complex argument. One can feel her character moving toward some dumb come-to-Jesus moment whereby she renounces her liberal ideology after discovering the True American Way of Life.

Also, she’s just annoying. So there’s that.

Everyone’s main issue, however, seems to be less about the content of these political “gotchas” and more about the fact that they exist at all. One Redditor noted the change in the series during recent seasons. “I don’t have to be in total ideological/political alignment with the media I consume in order to enjoy it on some level. I’ve always had these critiques, really, but I still thought the first two seasons were enjoyable in a soap opera/melodrama way. Now I think it’s going downhill.”

We tend to agree. Give us more Yeehaw Cowboy Shit. And less Vegan at the Dinner Table crap. We’re not watching this show to heal a political divide. We just want the train wreck.

preview for Yellowstone: Season 5 Official Trailer (Paramount Network)

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