A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Ranch is a old-school-style sitcom about a family that lives on a Colorado ranch. Expect frequent cursing ("s--t," "hell," "damn," "f--k"; characters ask each other "what the hell?" or say proudly that their family is "f--ked up"). They also insult each other frequently, picking on each other's choice of profession, taste in fashion or dates, personality, and past mistakes. Vulgar expressions include "boobies," "pissing," and "balls." Characters generally have a beer in their hands while on-screen, and one character owns a bar; scenes are frequently set there with everyone drinking beer or whiskey. A divorced husband and wife are still sexually involved; characters joke about their sex life. Two 30-ish men are single and interested in dating; jokes frequently target the sexual success of one of them, with references to casual, no-strings sex. A man picks a woman up at a bar, and they are seen kissing in bed in their underwear (no nudity). One character threatens to beat up another; they shove and insult each other.
What's the story?
When Colt (Ashton Kutcher) ages out of his middling pro football career, he goes back to THE RANCH, the Colorado farm where he grew up and the rest of his family still lives. Alas, he soon discovers, all is not well there: His harsh, mocking father, Beau (Sam Elliot), is terminally disappointed in him; his older brother, Rooster (Danny Masterson), has been doing double duty to help keep the failing ranch going; and while his mother, Maggie (Debra Winger), has divorced Beau and moved on, she's still enmeshed with the family, the family business, and even her ex. But Colt hopes that by sticking around he can help his family make a go of it while atoning for past misdeeds. And family are the people who have to take you in when you have nowhere else to go -- right?
Is it any good?
In an era when network sitcoms are a dying breed, it's curious that Netflix would choose to make a throwback, multicamera comedy that resembles network output, right down to the laugh track. The Ranch seems like it may have been green-lighted on sheer star power alone: After all, Kutcher and Masterson starred together on one of the most popular sitcoms of the late '90s/early 2000s, so perhaps Netflix hoped their appeal might translate to binge-watching. Alas, though the cast is appealing, the jokes and foibles just aren't fresh enough to wring a lot of laughs from its audience, who probably won't be able to shake the feeling that we've seen these characters and heard these jokes before.
Family members who mock each other but are there when the chips are down was last intriguing sometime in the All in the Family era, while a joke about animals giving birth was the standout thigh-slapper in City Slickers, which was quite popular -- back in 1991. Of course, on this non-network show, the characters feel free to curse, drink, and make jokes about sex, but that's not enough to make the proceedings feel fresh, no matter how fervently the laugh track insists. This type of thing was about all that was available, sitcom-wise, back in the 1990s, but with a vast variety of much-funnier choices now, only the nostalgic should tune in.
Talk to your kids about ...
What role does drinking play in this show? How does it affect the characters who do it? Are consequences shown?
What messages does this show send about sex and relationships? How much sexual content in media is appropriate for kids?
Characters on sitcoms frequently treat each other with mockery and disdain. Is that the way people act in real life? Why is it considered funny on TV shows if it wouldn't be funny in real life?
Themes & Topics
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