Season 5 of Yellowstone has been some of the most bonkers television I’ve seen in a while. Some episodes feature poignant commentary about reproductive rights, and then some weeks we just see Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) beating the bejesus out of a woman in a bar fight. Sunrise, sunset. But in Episode 7, which aired Sunday night, Yellowstone offered up something that stunned me like 5,000 head of cattle appearing out of thin air: a tender lesbian kiss.
To set up the scene: The Dutton family (and its ranch hands) all take a trip to the fair in town to blow off a little steam. John Dutton (Kevin Costner) has become governor this season, which seems like an important job, but he’s mostly avoided doing anything related to said job and thus is free to join this fun trip to the fair. When his love interest, played by Piper Perabo, tells him that he shouldn’t kiss her in public because of the optics, John says, “My press advisor’s behind me, making out.”
Boom! Cut to new cast member Clara (Lilli Kay) giving us full inverse Brokeback Mountain realness under the stars with a cowboy hat-clad lady whose cheekbones could cut glass. You love to see it. Queer women! On the range! Where the deer and the antelope play!
Clara’s not the first queer woman we’ve seen on Yellowstone; Beth has mentioned her past threesomes several times. There’s also Sarah Nguyen, the journalist from back in Season 1 who got axed in Season 2 after digging up some dirt on the Dutton family. But that’s kind of the ongoing problem with queer people on TV, right? Their queerness is either just alluded to, or they get killed off. So seeing Clara make out with a woman on this of all shows is legitimately surprising and meaningful.
To be clear, this is hardly the first time two women have kissed on television; we’re not giving Yellowstone a trophy for being pioneers or anything. But if you’re a regular viewer or have even heard about the show in passing, you know that Yellowstone has a reputation for being one of the “toughest, straightest” shows on TV—“Republican-adjacent,” as I’ve written here before. There’s a real “hold my spit cup” aesthetic going on in this program, especially considering that a woman beat the hell out of another woman for being vegan.
That makes the kiss all the more shocking. This Yellowstone lesbian moment was neither super steamy, nor did it move the plot forward. It didn’t exist as some kind of sexy thing… it just kind of happened, and then it was over, and everyone continued to enjoy their time at the fair. All the good people of Montana sat around them, parked on their blankets, unbothered as two women exchanged some quick fairground smooches. Not a phone in sight—just people enjoying this carefully curated country band tasked to soundtrack this particular scene at the Montana State Fair.
And ironically enough, on the other side of the screen, the response wasn’t too different either. If you look up “Yellowstone and kiss” on Twitter, there’s one guy talking about how Yellowstone was always bound to go woke…and that’s it. Nothing much on Facebook either. And as silly as it sounds, that might be as shocking as the kiss itself.
It’s Yellowstone’s answer to that whole conservative refrain: I just wish gay people didn’t make such a big deal about it. Welp, here you go! Who ordered two lesbians, doing every day couple things, blah-ssez-faire style? The moment lasts all of maybe five seconds, and yet, it’s an interesting litmus test of where we as a country with queer people on TV. Clara and this unnamed cowwoman are just chasing that American dream of getting laid at the fair. I tip my hat to that.