Tulsa King Review Intro
Where to stream it? Paramount+
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Andrea Savage, Max Casella, Martin Starr, Domenik Lombardozzi, Vincent Piazza, Jay Will, Garrett Hedlund, A.C. Peterson, Dana Delany
Created by: Taylor Sheridan
The first two episodes were screened in advance for this review.
From Rocky to Rambo, Sylvester Stallone has cemented his place as one of the true action stars of Hollywood history. Now that we are well into the era of Peak TV, the Italian Stallion himself has come to Paramount+ with his first ever starring role in a scripted television project.
Despite being labeled as a “crime drama,” Tulsa King is a gangster story that is at times comedic and certainly less dark than one might expect- at least judging by the first two episodes.
It’s created by Taylor Sheridan, the actor-turned-director best known for creating the wildly popular show Yellowstone. For fans of the growing Yellowstone universe of shows or Sheridan’s other recent creation, Mayor of Kingstown, Tulsa King is must-see TV.
A Fish Out of Water
The show follows Dwight “The General” Manfredi (Stallone), a mafia capo who is finally out of prison after 25 years. His boss sends him to an unlikely locale- Tulsa, Oklahoma, to establish a new criminal enterprise.
Dwight must deal with the culture shock of a new world where smartphones are the norm, no one takes cash, and cannabis can be purchased legally. Much of the humor from the show’s first two episodes stems from this adjustment.
Once in Tulsa, he enlists a driver, Tyson (Jay Will), as his partner and enters into a business arrangement… of sorts… with the owner of a marijuana dispensary.
The camaraderie between Dwight and his newfound business associates is particularly entertaining. Despite being an actor whose filmography has at time developed a certain reputation with critics, Stallone carries the show with the necessary levels of humanity and grit.
Intriguing details about Dwight’s past are teased in the first two episodes and we are introduced to some characters that are sure to create complications for him as the season progresses.
A Promising Start
Some elements of Tulsa King might seem a bit goofy. Dwight’s eagerness to punch people out at any moment’s notice rivals only the characters from the Grand Theft Auto video game series.
Plus some of his ignorance at the world he left behind in prison seems farfetched. I mean- surely someone told him a little about smartphones?
This show isn’t the next Sopranos, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a bit larger-than-life but never too schlocky- at least so far.
As someone from the Midwest, I appreciate seeing locales that aren’t portrayed as often on camera and Tulsa makes for a unique landscape. The second episode in particular draws some very specific inspiration from a Tulsa landmark that makes the Oklahoma setting feel intentional.
Final Thoughts: Tulsa King Review
Although it has a premise involving crime and gangsters, Tulsa King was a lot more fun and humorous than I would have guessed. This show is here to have a damn good time and I suspect Taylor Sheridan has another hit on his hands.
Stallone’s still got it and he’s here to put Tulsa on the map!