TV Review: 1923

I watched and thoroughly enjoyed 1883 a few weeks ago, so it felt only natural to move from that right on to 1923. It’s basically the second season of the show, although it jumps ahead forty years. Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren star as the latest Dutton family members, now trying to shepherd the family through turbulent times as their now-successful ranch faces pressure from new threats. It’s not nearly as much as a western, though it still has strong western tropes. (Just mixed with more of a 1920s vibe.)

Did it hold up to the earlier show?

Well, in some ways yes, and in some ways no.

At its heart, it’s a strong show. The conflicts are really solid, and the characters are well executed. If it weren’t for one (big) plot line, I’d be recommending it right next to 1883. But in this case, the show dips into areas that are just too unsavory for me to give a thumbs up.

This might not be a hang up for some people, but it’s a pet peeve of mine for sure. Specifically, Timothy Dalton plays the role of an evil banker. A man wholly focused on himself. He doesn’t care what he has to do to other people to get his way. Fine. Every show needs a big bad guy. But in an effort to show us just how much of a big bad guy he is, the writers show us (repeatedly) that’s he’s a sexual sadist. Casually depicting violence on women just for the sake of establishing that someone’s a nasty person is something I think we can just do without. (Game of Thrones did the same thing with Joffrey. We get it. He was awful. We don’t need to see him killing women for sport for us to get that point.) It’s not like those scenes have anything else to do with the show.

So I can’t really recommend it to anyone in good faith. If I give a show a thumbs up, I have to be able to stand by the recommendation. If this trope sounds like something you’d be fine with (or you want to just skip the scenes each time they come up (it’s very easy to see them coming), then the show would probably be dandy. But as is, if you enjoyed 1883, I’d be hesitant to jump into 1923 without knowing what you’re getting into first.


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