It was a big week for Lainey Wilson. On Wednesday, the country music star won a pair of the most coveted CMA Awards—New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year—and on Sunday, she made her acting debut in the Season 5 debut of Yellowstone. You know, justthe most-watched show on TV.
Wilson’s character in Yellowstone is, like her, a singer. Her music was previously featured in the show, and, like Ryan Bingham (who plays Walker) she’ll also be playing her own original music in the series. But how did she get here?
“I met [series co-creator and executive producer] Taylor Sheridan after he put one of my songs in the show,” the singer, who recently released her new album Bell Bottom Country, said in an interview with the New York Post. “He invited me out to Vegas to play a horse-riding competition. And we really kind of bonded over horses.”
Lainey Wilson played Abby in the Yellowstone Season 5 premiere.
At the tail end of the Yellowstone premiere episode that took a little time jump and showed John Dutton (Kevin Costner) winning an election and becoming the Governor of Montana, we catch up with a party celebrating his victory. At this party, we find old Yellowstone pals Shane Smith and the Saints performing (another banger, this time titled “Dance the Night Away”) while a number of fun happenings play out on screen.
While the bunkhouse boys (and Teeter) mess around with their lassos, we see one lady, Abby (Wilson) eyeing them down, giving a particular bit of attention to Ryan. Beth walks over, and as they chat we we get a clear idea of their philosophies. Abby (who, like the woman portraying her, is a performer) vows to never date a cowboy, because she’ll never be the most important thing to them; she will always be second in the pecking order behind the Cowboy Life. Beth scoffs her nose at this idea in typical Beth fashion; she’s biased (as Rip dramatically sits in the field looking on), but prefers someone who’s got a full life and something to share with her.
This may have ignited something in Abby, who doesn’t need much flirting from Ryan when he finally walks over to give in to his charms. It’s admittedly a very cute moment as he asks her for a dance, and then lassos her to insist that she join him (The Shane Smith song still playing helps bring it all together too).
There’s always a lot going on in Yellowstone, but is it totally out there to say that the show is at it’s best when it’s embracing these music moments (Shane Smith) and guest stars (Lainey Wilson)? Sure, we’re here for the Western stuff, of course—but the fun stuff is a much needed balance.
Evan is the culture editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE. He loves weird movies, watches too much TV, and listens to music more often than he doesn’t.