A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the latest Yellowstone episode this week features something other than Kevin Costner brooding and Kelly Reilly snarling: A lesbian kiss!
At the county fair, the Duttons and the ranch hands sit around listening to country music while Costner’s character, John Dutton, flirts with his current love interest, the environmentalist Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo). As Jezebel reports, when she protests that it won’t look good for them to kiss publicly, he laughs.
“My press advisor’s behind me, making out,” he says, looking behind him at Clara Brewer (Season Five newcomer Lilli Kay), who’s canoodling with an unidentified, cowboyish blonde lady.
Maybe this is what had co-creator Taylor Sheridan so amused about his show being described as right-wing last month.
“They refer to it as ‘the conservative show’ or ‘the Republican show,'” he told The Hollywood Reporter, or even the “red-state Game of Thrones.”
Sheridan’s reaction? “And I just sit back laughing. I’m like, ‘Really?’”
The show, now in its fifth season, has so far managed to have it both ways, garnering a massive following for its heavily Western-nostalgic perspective, while occasionally tipping its ten-gallon hat at more nuanced plot points. As Sheridan elaborated, “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.”
But sexuality-wise, Yellowstone has also made it pretty clear it’s interested in playing it straight—even the pink-haired, butch cowgirl Teeter (Jennifer Landon) turned out to be horny for a dude, which makes this revelation about Clara all the more interesting.
Let’s hope the same pro-gay awakening has happened offscreen for Luke Grimes, who plays John Dutton’s son Kayce. Nearly a decade ago, Grimes quit a role on HBO’s True Blood, with Buzzfeed reporting it was because he didn’t like a storyline that had his character becoming romantically involved with another man (the late Nelsan Ellis’s character, Lafayette).
And then there’s Sam Elliott, who’s on the Yellowstone prequel, 1883, and who stirred up ire when he dinged Jane Campion’s Western Power of the Dog on a podcast earlier this year. “They’re all running around in chaps and no shirts. There’s all these allusions to homosexuality throughout the fucking movie,” he told WTF podcast host Marc Maron, comparing the film’s cowboys to Chippendales dancers. Elliott has since, to be fair, apologized: “I wasn’t very articulate about it. I didn’t articulate it very well. And I said some things that hurt people and I feel terrible about that.”
The Clara clinch has been hailed as the show’s first gay kiss, though surely it isn’t the first lesbian encounter a character’s had: After all, Beth has talked loudly and proudly—to her dad, no less!—about having at least one threesome in her past.
And Jezebel points out that “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.”
Maybe next time it’ll even last longer than a few seconds!
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