The Adult Western: The Flourishing
With the coming of the adult Western, American video audiences experienced a break with the past. While children continued to view this new type of program, here was a prime-time cowboy action designed principally for grown-ups. No longer would the central characters of TV Westerns be those flawlessly moral, one-dimensional types spawned by B film tradition. Brave and tough they would remain, but heroes in the newer series were sketched with more believability and depth of character.
Certainly, there were varieties of adultness in these adult Westerns. Some were more mature than others in terms of characterization and thematic emphasis. Some even featured youngsters in supporting roles. However, where the juvenile Western stressed the frontier as a theater for two-fisted action, the adult Western envisioned the American wilderness as a stage primarily for the unfolding of human drama.