Netflix is betting on that, too. And judging from the available viewership data, that bet is paying off. Like its equally successful channel-mate Fuller House, which gets a clever shout-out in one of these new Ranch episodes, The Ranch is a show that hooks you with the promise of comfort, ease, and nostalgia. These aren't shows you have to "invest" in or read articles unpacking theories about the next morning. They work best as something to watch when you're cooking dinner -- or, if you're like the characters in The Ranch, when you're adding beer to your pancakes. Or pouring beer in your Cheerios. Or spiking your coffee with Muscle Milk. (Yes, these things all happen in the first couple episodes.)
What separates The Ranch from Fuller House is the level of professionalism and craft on display. Kutcher and Masterson, who play brothers named Colt and Rooster, may not be the most versatile actors, but they know how to sell the hell out of jokes about driving trucks, drinking whiskey, and having sex with sheep. That's one thing The Ranch has on all the other sitcoms out there: no other comedy makes as many jokes about having sex with animals. Not even BoJack Horseman.
More important, Kutcher and Masterson know how to sit in the little pockets of drama the show creates and even end the occasional scene without a punch line, giving the show a melancholy touch. Similarly, legendary character actor Sam Elliott, who plays the boys' cranky father Beau, brings a weary gravitas to all his scenes. He makes out-of-touch-old-man jokes like, "What the fuck is Adele?" and "What the fuck is Tinder?" sing. The character's anger and resentment feel lived-in. His pathos feels earned.