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.