Kiss & Tell

Flyover Favorite “Yellowstone” Featured a Lesbian Kiss and Republicans are Losing It

Yellowstone, a show that has quickly become a flagship series for Paramount+, recently featured its first onscreen lesbian kiss. While Yellowstone has earned labels like “conservative prestige television” for its Old West nostalgia and many, many guns, the kiss (and the series creator) suggest that the show’s politics are more complicated than they might seem.

Yellowstone follows the Dutton family, who own the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch—the largest of its kind in Montana. The series chronicles their ensuing conflicts with the bordering Broken Rock Indian Reservation, land developers and the titular national park.

The recently aired seventh episode of the fifth season has the Duttons attending the Montana State Fair. Patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) has just been made governor, and he spends most of his time at the fair with his environmental advisor and love interest, Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo). When Higgins suggests that it would look bad if the governor was seen consorting with one of his advisors in public, he responds, “My press advisor’s behind me, making out.”

The camera cuts to said press advisor Clara (Lilli Kay), who is indeed making out with an unnamed blonde woman, both of them sitting on a picnic blanket and decked out in cowboy attire. What could easily have come across as the kind of girl-on-girl fodder geared towards straight male viewers is, in actuality, a surprisingly tender moment.

Regardless, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kiss has drawn unsurprising claims that the cowboy drama has “gone woke.” The kiss has nothing to do with the story—it’s just there—but as we know, even brief acknowledgments that queer people exist are somehow an attack on conservatives. Other fans, meanwhile, have pointed out that it’s not that unusual for a project helmed by series creator Taylor Sheridan.

Sheridan himself has disputed the idea that the show caters to the right. “They refer to it as ‘the conservative show’ or ‘the Republican show’ or ‘the red-state Game of Thrones,’ ” he told The Atlantic ahead of the season five premiere. “And I just sit back laughing.

“I’m like, ‘Really?’ The show’s talking about the displacement of Native Americans and the way Native American women were treated and about corporate greed and the gentrification of the West, and land-grabbing. That’s a red-state show?”

Maybe it’s not too surprising that some right-wing viewers have missed the point that the behavior Sheridan describes is…bad, actually. Meanwhile, queer women are out there smooching, unbothered. While the kiss was certainly not groundbreaking in any way, it is a rare moment of queer love on a show that has a reputation for conservative leanings.

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