What to Expect Watching Elkhorn

Get Ready for the Elkhorn Experience

What picture comes to mind when you think of Theodore Roosevelt? The stodgy 26th president of the United States? The colossal mustachioed stone portrait sculpted into the granite facade of Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota? Some kind of a mash-up between Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt—actually, T.R.’s fifth cousin? Well, prepare yourself for a fresh look at the man who had it all, hailing from an influential, high-society New York family.

Meet Theodore Roosevelt as a young man on the verge of discovering himself and honing all the qualities he will need when his future self enters the tumultuous (and often corrupt) New York and national political scenes.

Meet Theodore Roosevelt, the Cowboy

In Elkhorn, we enter his life when, at age 25, he arrives in the lawless Wild West, in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory in 1884. The respected Roosevelt name might be able to pull strings on New York’s fancy Fifth Avenue, but here in the harsh mountainous country, it means nothing—except to draw mockery and suspicion from the rough frontiersmen, and the scrutiny of a soon-to-be rival. T.R. had traveled the world to many exotic places, including the Badlands previously, but nothing could have prepared this small, asthmatic young man for actually surviving day-to-day life in the unforgiving landscape, where justice was often dispensed with a spur-of-the-moment trigger finger. Indeed, his Harvard degree wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on out on the frontier.

So, why would T.R. leave his comfortable, privileged life at a time when he was on a direct trajectory to a successful political career? Because even all the money in the Roosevelt family coffers couldn’t keep tragedy at bay. On the same night, in the family’s 57th St. townhome in New York City, T.R. suffers two devastating losses. In one room, his beloved mother succumbs to typhoid fever. Several hours later, on a different floor of the house, his wife, having given birth to their daughter two days earlier, dies from undiagnosed kidney failure. About that night, T.R. wrote in his diary, “The light has gone out of my life.”

As you watch Elkhorn, you will ride along with T.R. on his adventures. You’ll experience physical fistfights and psychological gameplay. You’ll watch the future president struggle, pick himself up and carry on, learn, grow, survive, and thrive. He may have ridden horses on the family’s Long Island estate, but riding in the Badlands, being a cowboy changes him—mind, body, and soul. It makes him a man. During those years, he wrote and published extensively about his time as a cowboy on the frontier.

He said, [A cowboy] possesses, “few of the emasculated, milk-and-water moralities admired by the pseudo-philanthropists; but he does possess, to a very high degree, the stern, manly qualities that are invaluable to a nation.”