Tulsa King Reviews Are Here, See What Critics Are Saying About Sylvester Stallone’s New Crime Drama

Dwight Manfredi in Tulsa King
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Sylvester Stallone is well-known for his work on the big screen, having starred in classic franchises like Rocky and Rambo. So while it’s unexpected to see the 76-year-old actor leading a television series for the first time, it does make sense that the project is Taylor Sheridan’s creation Tulsa King. The Yellowstone creator is set to bring a new drama to Paramount+, with Stallone starring as Dwight “The General” Manfredi and leading an impressive cast of acting vets. Critics were able to screen the first two episodes ahead of Tulsa King’s November 13 premiere, and the reviews are in to give us a better idea of what to expect.

Tulsa King will see The General being released from prison after a 25-year sentence and swiftly shipped off to Oklahoma, where he has to hire a crew in order to establish a new criminal empire. Let’s see what the critics have to say about Sly Stallone’s foray into television. Alex Maidy of JoBlo rates Tulsa King an “Amazing” 9 out of 10, calling the series Taylor Sheridan’s best project to date. The first two episodes are funnier than the critic expected with a great performance from its star. More from the review: 

Tulsa King is off to a solid start with two episodes that establish Dwight Manfredi as one of the more interesting characters on television as well as one of Sylvester Stallone’s best performances in years. This series is equal parts funny and entertaining and never treats the New York or Tulsa characters as cliches or stereotypes. Taylor Sheridan and Terence Winter deliver a series that is as layered as The Sopranos, as richly dramatic as Yellowstone, and somehow the funniest crime series in recent memory. This show is a winner on all levels and worth every bit of the hype surrounding it.

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times agrees with the above assessment, calling the Paramount+ series “instantly engrossing, darkly funny and dramatically impactful.” The critic says the actor and material are a perfect match, rating the premiere episodes 3.5 out of 4 stars: 

With the prolific and greatly talented Taylor Sheridan writing the pilot and the Emmy-winning Terence Winter taking the reins as showrunner, Tulsa King is a classic fish-out-of- water story that plays to Stallone’s strengths. Stallone has played myriad tough guys, soldiers, cops and criminals over his 50-year career. But he’s never played a mob boss — until now. The result is the perfect marriage of actor and material, with Stallone relying on his trademark formula of charisma, intimidating physicality and clever dialogue uttered in a low, often self-deprecating growl.

Clint Worthington of RogerEbert.com calls the series “charming,” saying that Sylvester Stallone seems at home in his debut TV role as a man alienated by his circumstances. The critic says: 

That’s Dwight, and that’s also Stallone: Television, it seems, is his Tulsa, and the big-screen legend consciously bristles in his new confines. But the 76-year-old shows no signs of slowing down, and on the small screen he seems, if anything, even larger than he did before. Under Winter and Sheridan’s pen, Tulsa King is both mafia dramedy and Western, Sly sitting somewhere between Chili Palmer and John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards in The Searchers.

Not all the critics are so taken with Tulsa King, however. Darren Franich of EW grades the first episodes a C+, calling it a “ridiculous drama.” The critic wonders if Sylvester Stallone’s character is going to eventually become deeper than the “boomer bull in a millennial china shop.” More from this critic: 

You sense an urge to star-polish Dwight's rough edges. Tulsa King's showrunner is Terence Winter, who worked on The Sopranos before creating Boardwalk Empire. One of those was a masterpiece about an awful man's moral downfall, and the other was a gorgeous vulgar goof. I had high hopes for Boardwalk Goes West, but Tulsa's a bit of a diet beverage.

USA TODAY (opens in new tab)’s Kelly Lawler rates the first two offerings 1 star out of 4, saying the series’ issues begin with its concept, and if Sylvester Stallone is the king of something, it’s not Tulsa. The critic continues: 

The crime drama, about an old gangster forced to move from New York to Oklahoma by his bosses, is a mess, with moments so poorly written they're cringeworthy. It's part half-hearted Western, part fish-out-of-water comedy and part mob-movie knockoff, with bad wigs and worse accents. It's all a bit embarrassing, to be honest.

Critics’ inability to come to a consensus on the new Paramount+ series is reflected in its Rotten Tomatoes score, which stands at 56% from 18 critics’ ratings. It’s clear that some are very excited about what Sly Stallone is bringing to the small screen, so if you want to check out Tulsa King, you can stream the first two episodes with a Paramount+ subscription beginning Sunday, November 13. The first two episodes will also air Sundays on the Paramount Network, following Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone. Check out our 2022 TV schedule to see what else is premiering soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.