The newest Netflix original series, The Ranch, debuted on April Fool’s Day. The show brings together Ashton Kutcher, Debra Winger, Danny Masterson, and Sam Elliot for a comedic exploration of blue collar family life in a Colorado ranching community. The story revolves around Colt Bennet (Kutcher), the former star high school quarterback, as he returns home to his family’s ranch to figure out life after a long tenure on the semi-professional football circuit. Bennet returns home to a dry, hardworking, conservative father (Elliot, naturally), a disgruntled older brother (Masterson), and a bar tending mother (Winger) that moved out of the family house. In short, the series chronicle’s Colt Bennet’s efforts to reintegrate himself into the town and family he so enthusiastically left after high school. Viewers, of course, will experience a few tropes along the way. Firstly, the Bennet ranch is bordering on financial collapse. Secondly, Colt Bennet does try to reconnect with this former high school sweetheart who is now a teacher. Thirdly, rural and ranching shenanigans abound. Finally, stale laugh tracks play chorus to this interesting new venture put forward by Netflix.
All that aside, The Ranch is pleasant and funny enough. Masterson and Kutcher perform well, playing up their normal traits with western drawls attached. Elliot and Winger add strength to the show, balancing out Masterson’s and Kutcher’s slapstick, roughhouse shenanigans with dry and cutting dialogue. Even though it’s shot in studio, the rural, western setting does offer viewers some reprieve from the bombardment of suburban sitcoms. The liberty allotted to the actors gives their dialogue more punch than cable, but the themes they visit are sitcom favorites: money, sex, love, and family.