There is a group of sad rich white men on television who are all trying to do one thing: Fight back against their dad. Whether it is an act of revenge or trying to get their fathers to respect them, they all have daddy issues, and they struggle to admit that. Wes Bentley‘s Jamie Dutton on Yellowstone is right up there among some of the fan-favorite characters of this particular genre — and yes, there are enough of them in popular television these days that this could easily be considered a genre all on its own.
It started, in a way, back with Season 1 of Westworld in 2016. Westworld brought us the character of Logan Delos, played by Ben Barnes, and led to a love for Tom Pelphrey‘s Ward Meachum on Netflix’s Iron Fist. They both were so sad that their daddy didn’t love them unconditionally and it became their entire drive in life. From there, Jeremy Strong‘s Kendall Roy on Succession alternated between desperately seeking his father Logan’s (Brian Cox) approval and looking for any way to become better than him — and now, we can add Jamie Dutton to the list of men who have so much going for them, but who refuse to let their relationship with their father go.
Jamie Dutton’s Situation on ‘Yellowstone’ Is Complicated
With Jamie, however, the trope is a bit more complicated than the typical rich white sad boy, because his relationship with Kevin Costner‘s John Dutton is constantly torn apart by his siblings and family secrets that John never wanted to share with Jamie in the first place. From the first moment that we meet Jamie in Yellowstone, it is clear that he is willing to do whatever is necessary to win his father’s affection — even if it means ruining his own values in the process. Now that we’re into Season 5 of the series, we’ve seen that the tide is turning when it comes to Jamie’s feelings about John.
Where Jamie most significantly differs from previous sad rich boys like Ward, Logan, and Kendall is that extra layer of turmoil from finding out that he was adopted in Season 3. Kendall, Ward, and Logan all have to unpack the hatred that they have for that part of themselves that is their father — and while Jamie was going through that too in Yellowstone‘s first three seasons, once he learned about the truth about his real parents it completely changed his approach in his relationship to John.
Ultimately, the Duttons weren’t right to withhold the truth from Jamie, but what their lie did was provide Jamie the option to meet his birth father, Garrett Randall (Will Patton), and discover the reality of his origins — and when he did, he came face to face with a man who had murdered his wife, Jamie’s mother, because of a drug addiction. That reveal thrusts Jamie even further into this idea of “daddy issues” that he’s had from the start of the show — and adds an extra layer of complication to Jamie’s thinking about himself as a part of the Dutton family. He had his own hatred of the burden placed on his shoulders prior to that, but learning the truth about his biological father also leads to Jamie doing a lot of self-reflection.
Jamie Is Still a Dutton — For Better or Worse
From what we’ve seen of John and Jamie’s relationship, John didn’t necessarily treat Jamie any different than he did his own biological sons, Lee (Dave Annable) and Kayce (Luke Grimes). Next to his brothers, however, Jamie went on to become a lawyer, to build a career that is still beneficial to John in some way. But that extra layer of knowing his true origins has changed the nature of Jamie’s relationship with John, maybe for good. Now, he’s focused more on taking down John than helping him — and while this isn’t new for their dynamic, it is fascinating to watch unfold throughout the season. Prior to finding out that he was adopted, Jamie was already on the outs with his family and eventually fought his way back into their good graces, only to sort of take himself out again. All of this just leads to him being the perfect kind of character to join the club of sad boys.
You could easily dismiss these kinds of characters, and you’d be right to do so. They’re incredibly wealthy men with everything they could possibly want but the one thing they can’t have is what is breaking them. They don’t have that warm and fuzzy relationship with their father that they so desperately crave, and it has made their entire lives a disaster. Characters like Jamie and Ward Meachum then try and protect their own kids from the same cycle (Kendall Roy has kids but is… bad at being a father), but it’s not necessarily enough to repair their relationships with their own dads. We don’t know what Jamie and John’s relationship is going to be like in the future and with the shifts it has already gone through, it could easily be something that we see change drastically again. For now, Jamie is carving out a plan to get back at his father — the consequences of which are going to be fascinating to continue to see play out over the rest of Yellowstone.
- Yellowstone‘s Jamie Dutton and other sad rich white men on TV have unresolved daddy issues, which drive their actions and shape their identities.
- Jamie’s relationship with his father John is complicated by family secrets and his siblings’ interference, but learning about his adoption adds a new layer of turmoil.
- Despite Jamie’s efforts to win his father’s affection, the revelation about his biological father leads him to question his place in the Dutton family and focus on taking John down.