Earlier this year Netflix debuted the sitcom The Ranch starring Ashton Kutcher. The premise of the show is that Kutcher is a former semi-pro football player that returns home to help run the family business. The show has been very popular on Netflix and has already been renewed for a second season.
Image courtesy of Netflix.com
Although I’m not a big fan of the show, I found it interesting that Kutcher hopes to redefine the traditional sitcom through The Ranch. Kutcher noted that Netflix allows a show to have a certain sense of freedom that network shows do not allow for. I can understand this in that I noticed The Ranch has a lot of provocative language and often scenes of brief nudity. These elements of the show are something you generally do not see on early evening network sitcoms.
The main reasoning for Kutcher being able to redefine the traditional sitcom is the creative freedom Kutcher has as a producer for a Netflix show. He is not required to adhere to certain set, lighting, and time restrictions like cable network sitcom shows. I agree that this is absolutely beneficial for a sitcom because there is a greater potential for creating something that does not fit the mold of a traditional sitcom.
However, I struggled to understand how a show like The Ranch redefines the traditional sitcom. I agree with Kutcher’s notion that creating a sitcom on Netflix can allow for a redefinition of the traditional sitcom but I am not sure that this show does just that. I think it is great that producers are allowed to take creative control on Netflix shows but The Ranch just does not seem to be a redefined sitcom for me. To me, this show seems very much like a traditional sitcom.
Maybe I am biased because I did not really enjoy the show but to me The Ranch seemed like a very conservative comedy that, at times, reinforced stereotypes. However, I think it is important that Kutcher acknowledged Netflix is setting the stage to allow for greater amounts of creative freedom on sitcoms.