Nostalgia for Sylvester Stallone has never run dry since the ’80s and ’90s when the megastar was at the peak of his powers. While he may not always garner the same hype as he used to during the prime of his early Rocky and Rambo days, he certainly has always found a way to remain relevant with audiences throughout the 2000s so far.
With his latest show, Tulsa King, Stallone has divided opinions among fans of the show and critics who, more often than not, seem to write it off as a little ridiculous. Despite their opinions, for now, the show remains a hit with audiences and has been confirmed for a second season.
As we delve into a look at the show from both, its critical consensus and the fun aspects of why fans seem to love it so much, make up your own mind on whether this show is good fun or simply just a ridiculous concept trying to be something it’s not.
The Plot of Tulsa King
The opening episode of Tulsa King seems as first glance to be an intriguing one. It follows the efforts of a New York Mafia Captain known as Dwight “The General” Manfredi after his release from prison. Manfredi is banished to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he must make arrangements to further the mob’s criminal enterprises there.
Finding it a strange place where he is unknown, he commences recruitment efforts to build up his own crew and take the area. He initially finds this easy, as he realizes the town’s medical marijuana dispensary is a soft target. Quickly establishing himself as a serial tough guy who is unafraid to use violence and intimidation to run the town, Manfredi quickly exerts his control.
As the show goes on, Manfredi encounters an eclectic mix of other antagonists to scrap with and gets into his fair share of messes. Despite this, his calm, confident style usually keeps him ahead and in charge. Given his stye, poise, and background, the new setting and Manfredi’s previous world are so contrasting as to be almost bizarre, but at times, also seems to add to the show’s charming appeal.
A new series by Taylor Sheridan of Yellowstone and its spinoffs’ fame, Sheridan seems to have delivered another solid TV series set for a franchising, but not everyone is convinced that it earns it popularity. If anything, the show is sometimes seen as subversive in a way as it coaxes audiences into rooting for a violent criminal.
Critical Consensus of Tulsa King
The show currently has a 78% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, but comes in with an impressive 91% audience approval score. The typical consensus among critics seems to revolve around the ridiculousness of the concept in the sense that its mafia elements, and the setting, are too much at odds to be taken seriously as a proper mob show.
On the other hand, most critics are appreciative of Stallone’s charm and appeal in the show, often citing his performance as a kind of glue that holds all its somewhat scattered elements together.
Joshua Alston, writing for Variety, had this to say about Tulsa King, and Stallone’s role in it:
Stallone is a particular kind of performer, with his post-“Rocky” filmography split between setpiece-heavy action franchises and failed experiments to evolve beyond playing soldiers of fortune like “Rambo.” Until he landed a Golden Globe for his supporting role in “Creed,” Stallone’s basic competence as a performer was a matter of fierce debate. He’s no one’s favorite actor. In “Tulsa King,” Stallone inhabits a role clearly conceived with him in mind, and it makes all the difference. “Tulsa King” is a clumsy misfire, but when the show works, it works precisely because of Stallone’s charming, if characteristically mannered, performance.
Tulsa King Is a Hit with Audiences
No matter how divided critics may be and how much many of them deem the show a little shoddy, it seems that audiences, and Stallone himself, do not share their opinions. The popularity of the show so far among viewers has kept it moving forward with no fusses or frills necessary, and Stallone wants it to last multiple seasons.
It’s not entirely certain how much of the audience reaction is down to it being a good, fun show, or simply a ridiculous one that is heaved atop the iconic action star’s broad shoulders made up of fan nostalgia, and carried with him into the vortex of his personal popularity among audiences.
If you’re a fan of Stallone, this is by no means a jibe at the veteran actor. Anyone who is a fan of Stallone’s usually knows that he is perfectly capable of injecting charm, a strong presence, and his one-dimensional but lovable style of acting into projects he works on – with no one usually caring if they’re objectively bad or not. When he’s the star of a show, it seems that there’s an expectation that he augments the attractiveness of anything he works on with his own magnetic aura.