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Chase Williams runs his family’s ranch, the Williams Ranch.
Courtesy of Show of Force
Chase Williams runs his family’s ranch, the Williams Ranch.

Premieres Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV / PBS App + Encore Wednesday, May 24 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2

The cowboy is the quintessential American — fiercely independent, brave, and laconic. On this episode, we examine the myths and realities of this archetype, which remains as potent as ever in the 21st century.


About the Series:

In this new eight-episode documentary series, David Rubenstein explores America’s 400-year history through a close examination of iconic national symbols: indelible artifacts, places, and archetypes. Each episode tells the story of an American symbol to reveal its origins, significance and the arc of its resonance.

Episode subjects include the Hollywood Sign, Fenway Park, American cowboys, Gadsden Flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”), American Bald Eagle, Stone Mountain, Statue of Liberty, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Rubenstein invites historical experts and community members to examine myriad ways the American public engages with these subjects.

Rubenstein’s quest for a deeper understanding of these symbols takes him on a journey to an array of regions and communities, from Boston to San Francisco and New York to Oklahoma City. He conducts interviews with historians and history makers from the worlds of sports, politics, entertainment, and academia, including David “Big Papi” Ortiz (former Red Sox player) and Lake Iolani Stevens (Women’s Ranch Bronc Champion); Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Sylvester Stallone (actor, screenwriter, and filmmaker) and Melissa Rivers (writer, host, and producer); Hasan Kwame Jeffries (associate professor of history at The Ohio State University) and Michael Boulware Moore (former chief executive officer of the International African American Museum).

ICONIC AMERICA: Behind the Scenes


Watch On Your Schedule:

With the PBS App, stream your favorite PBS shows, create the perfect watchlist, connect with your local station, and more — anywhere you watch.

Episode1 "Fenway Park" is available to stream on demand

Episode 2 "The Hollywood Sign" is available to stream on demand

Episode 3 "The Gadsden Flag" is available to stream on demand


A production of Show of Force, DMR Productions, and WETA Washington, D.C. David M. Rubenstein is the host and executive producer. Maro Chermayeff, Jeff Dupre, Joshua Bennett and Sam Pollard are executive producers for Show of Force. John F. Wilson is executive producer for WETA. Bill Gardner is the executive in charge for PBS. Christopher Ullman is producer for DMR Productions. Jonathan Scheinberg, Prisca Pointdujour, Sam Lacroix, Alexandra Nikolchev, Sally Rosenthal, Matthew Horovitz, Lizzie Mulvey and Ken Levis are producers for Show of Force. Kate Kelly is producer for WETA. Rick Van Meter is supervising producer. Allison Hanna is archival producer. Gary Lionelli is composer of the original score.