Skip to content


Your cart is empty


Get the latest Ink & Cinema articles and showcase announcements. (Be sure to check your email to confirm your subscription.)

Article: Billy the Kid (TV Notes)

Billy the Kid TV Series - Image from Television Show

Billy the Kid (TV Notes)

Billy the Kid, the 2022 television series, offers a fresh and compelling take on the life of one of America's most infamous outlaws, William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Created by Michael Hirst, known for his work on historical dramas like Vikings and The Tudors, the series blends historical accuracy with dramatic storytelling to bring the legend of Billy the Kid to life.

The show traces Billy's life from his humble beginnings as Henry McCarty, a boy growing up in an impoverished Irish immigrant family from New York to the American frontier. It explores his early experiences, including the tragic death of his mother and his subsequent descent into a life of crime. As Henry transforms into Billy the Kid, the series delves into the socio-political landscape of the American West during the late 19th century, marked by lawlessness, corruption, and intense racial and social tensions.

Throughout the series, Billy is portrayed as a complex character — a charming and charismatic young man who is also troubled and driven by a sense of justice, albeit through often violent means. His interactions with historical figures such as Pat Garrett and Jesse Evans are central to the narrative, highlighting the blurred lines between outlaws and lawmen in the Wild West.

The series also examines Billy's romantic entanglements and friendships, shedding light on the personal aspects of his life that are often overshadowed by his notorious exploits. His relationship with his gang members (as well as the hinted at real-life tumultuous romance with Mexican-American outlaw Paulita Maxwell, represented in the show as the fictional literary character Dulcinea Del Tobosco) are depicted with emotional depth, adding layers to his character.

Billy the Kid stands out for its commitment to historical detail and its nuanced portrayal of its titular character. The series benefits from Michael Hirst's expertise in creating richly detailed historical narratives that are both entertaining and educational.

The acting, particularly the performance of Tom Blyth as Billy, is a highlight of the series. Blyth captures the youthful exuberance, charm, and underlying darkness of Billy the Kid, bringing a fresh and engaging perspective to the legendary figure. His portrayal is supported by a strong ensemble cast that includes Eileen O'Higgins, Daniel Webber, Brendan Fletcher, and Alex Roe, among others, each bringing depth to their respective roles.

Visually, the series excels in its depiction of the American frontier. The cinematography captures the stark beauty and harsh realities of the landscape, effectively immersing viewers in the time period. The production design, costumes, and attention to period detail further enhance the authenticity of the setting.

The narrative structure of Billy the Kid balances action and drama with character development, providing a comprehensive view of Billy's life and the broader historical context. The series does not shy away from the brutal and violent aspects of the era but also emphasizes the personal and emotional journeys of the characters.

One of the strengths of the series is its ability to humanize Billy the Kid. While he is depicted as an outlaw, the series also portrays his vulnerability, his desire for justice, and his struggles with his identity and circumstances. This multifaceted portrayal invites viewers to empathize with Billy, even as they witness his descent into criminality.

SUMMARY: Billy the Kid is a well-crafted and engaging historical drama that offers a fresh perspective on the life of one of America's most iconic outlaws. With its strong performances, meticulous attention to historical detail, and balanced narrative, the series is a must-watch for fans of historical dramas and Westerns. It succeeds in both entertaining and enlightening viewers about the complex realities of the American frontier and the enigmatic figure of Billy the Kid.

Watch on MGM+ or Get the TV Series: Digital Series (AppleTV)