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‘The Ranch’ Part 3 Sneaks a Pro-Choice Argument Into a Superficially Conservative Season

Review: Ashton Kutcher and Sam Elliott step aside so Debra Winger can explain a man's role in the abortion debate — none.

The Ranch Season 2 Elisha Cuthbert Ashton Kutcher

Greg Gayne/Netflix

The Ranch” is a deceptive series. At its onset, the Netflix multi-cam comedy feels like a natural follow-up for Ashton Kutcher post-“Two-and-a-Half Men.” There’s a laugh track, a dozen of crude sex jokes per episode (minimum), and a simple, repetitious structure where most of the comedy stems from grown men acting like children — and then being called out for it by the series’ female characters.

Those who stuck with it for more than a few episodes (because they were bored, dead, or masochistic) discovered the comedy’s hidden secret: It’s a tragedy, and not for Kutcher’s disgraced former quarterback, forced to move home after squandering his talent by drinking and womanizing. It’s about his father, Beau, played by Sam Elliott. We’ve chronicled his struggles in the past, and they do continue (to a lesser degree) in Part 3, the latest block of episodes released on Netflix.

READ MORE: ‘The Ranch’ Review: Season 1, Part 2 Buries An Epic American Tragedy

But the seemingly redundant, overtly conservative comedy has at least one more intriguing trick up its surprisingly long sleeve. While the story shifts more heavily to Kutcher’s Colt Bennett, it’s in order to teach him a lesson about women’s rights. In doing so, “The Ranch” — a show that openly mocks people for buying Toyota trucks and voting for Hillary — makes a startlingly effective pro-choice argument. Even though it doesn’t finish the job, Part 3 goes further than its target audience would be comfortable with.

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “The Ranch” Season 3 (Part 3).]

Picking up with Part 2’s biggest cliffhanger, Colt’s ex-girlfriend, Heather (Kelli Goss), tells him she’s pregnant. The news arrives just as Colt reunites with the love of his life, Abby (Elisha Cuthbert), and was preparing to propose to her. But now he’s got a baby to think about: How’s he supposed to be a father for a baby born to a woman who’s not his future wife? What’s a good ol’ boy to do?

The Ranch Season 3 Part 3 Episode 10 Debra Winger

Honestly, it’s a bit of a surprise that “The Ranch” even considers abortion as an option. It isn’t brought up until 18 minutes into the premiere, but it does come up. Rooster (Danny Masterson), Colt’s brother, is the first to introduce it  — while at church with Colt, kneeling next to a statue of Jesus Christ — and he doesn’t even treat abortion like that a big deal.

Rooster: “Is she going to keep it?”

Colt: “Of course she is.”

R: “I’m just saying there’s always the option.”

C: “No, there’s not. That ain’t happening. And don’t talk about you-know-what in front of You-Know-Who.”

R: “Oh, right: the world’s most famous unplanned pregnancy. I’m sure He’ll be fine with it.”

That Rooster’s first question is whether or not Heather is considering an abortion and last remark is a joke about Jesus being cool with the conversation is telling on its own. Ears perk up. Backs straighten. Attention is given. And while Colt pigheadedly dismisses the idea outright, their discourse sets up what’s to come.

READ MORE: ‘The Mist’ Review: Stephen King TV Adaptation Crosses the Wrong Lines for the Wrong Reasons

At the end of the premiere, Heather tells Colt she doesn’t want to keep the baby. The episode ends on her announcement (an expectedly somber note), but the next half-hour picks up where we left off — and Colt does not react well.

“You haven’t thought this through,” are the first words out of his mouth. She talks about how hard it’s been to see her mother and sister raise kids on their own and asks him if he loves her. While he tries to fake it, she says she doesn’t love him — go Heather! — and that right there is enough reason not to go through with this. He gives her the whole “we have to make sacrifices” speech, gets angry, stops making any lick of sense, and then lowers the boom.

“This is wrong,” Colt says. “You can’t just take the easy way out.”

Continue reading for why Part 3 is Maggie’s season more than the other ranchers.

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Comments

Lonny

“So when the kid comes, it’s my responsibility, but whether or not it comes, I don’t get a say?” Colt asks.

“Yes, Colt,” she says. “That’s exactly right.” ///// Isn’t it kind of backwards to depict that freedom of choice for women can only be accomplished if men are shut out of the conversation of whether they want the child or not? That can also cause, and has caused many counts of entrapment. It’s not a good message. I thought the whole point of legalizing abortion was to leave politics out of personal choices. This is the exact same mentality but with the genders reversed.

Sam McGowan

If the message is “pro choice,” I’m an idiot. It’s actually anti-abortion. Heather is planning to get one but after she gets to the clinic, she realizes she can’t go through with it and kill her child.

Rebecca

This article is what’s wrong with today’s society. Heaven forbid someone be conservative and a show be conservative. So it’s ok to bash Trump and a few Hillary and Prius jokes are going to far. I’m pro-choice because it’s really none of my business what someone else’s does with their body. I didn’t take the episode as prochoice. I took it as a father to be wanting to take responsibility and he didn’t have a choice. You can’t say equal rights and not give them when it suits you.

Duane

You little arrogant shits don’t seem to understand that you are the reason that Donald Trump is President. “The Ranch” depicts the vast majority of the people in this country who are tired of Establishment bullshit. Obama promised hope and change and all he did was give health insurance companies more people to fleece. Then, you thought it would be fine to cheat Bernie Sanders, so that your queen could be the nominee. Well, guess what? Most of the country knows that Hillary belongs in prison. “The Ranch” is the best TV show I’ve seen in years. Like “The Middle”, it portrays real Americans. Every other show makes it look like all Americans are rich. We’re not.

Mike

Bias much? God forbid an ” overtly conservative comedy ” about Ranchers out in Colorado that offers a different viewpoint than you. Like Duane said, articles and attitudes like this of the ” tolerant ” left are exactly why Trump is the president in the first place.

Kwarco

But why is the extreme alcoholism ok? Just me? Every character on the show is a raging drunk – but we focus on political affiliation? Unreal.

Jay Spliffs

I grew up in a very conservative family so this show reminds me very slightly of growing up on a farm. Not sure why people buy Toyota trucks, they got a point. And as far as abortion I’m a big fan of it. But you used way too many words here to make your point.

Old School

I like the show. It does show pretty much the average American that is no longer rich thanks to both political parties and ideologies making decisions for the average American while our “elected” officials are now getting away with murder – literally. I really sick of hearing about Abortion rights. It’s simple. Sure, it takes two to tangle and yes, there is always the risk of pregnancy even with contraception as my conservative Father told me at 14, “You get a girl pregnant, you had BETTER Man up and do the right thing! Don’t come crawling back to me!” Cole Tried and apparently a choice was made by the woman which is the way it always should be only. In all the years I have had to listen to the neo-conservative “Christian” hypocrites who had plenty of unmarried sex during the 60’s and 70’s before they got old and then started to slam their anti-abortion guilt on the new generations trying to repeal Roe v/s Wade; while being used by the politicians as a misdirection for their passing laws of deregulation and tax breaks for the wealthy in disguise of “Right Wing Christians”; NO ONE has ever brought up the very reason Roe V/S Wade began. A young girl died due to a backwoods, unlicensed doctor which was very, very common as my parents told me about working in a Hospital during the 50’s and the horrors they saw when a young girl was butchered by a non-licensed doctor and died on the ER Table due to bleeding out or Septic Shock only for my parents to witness the horrified parents learn the news of the death of their daughter who had no idea their young girl was probably date raped or “forced” into sex by an overly aggressive teenage boy who couldn’t control himself and pregnancy happened as a poor 14-16 year old girl (yea, go ahead and call her a slut, I dare you!). Second point, when a man can suddenly carry a child instead of the woman and give birth, then HE can make the final decision! This is between her and her faith and her future! No one can force that on her based on superficial evidence or some random quote being misread by the bible from a bunch of heavy drinking, hard partying hypocrites that suddenly are old and want to get into heaven or the young self-rightous “Born Again” women who barely have read the bible and understand what medical technology means but they will surely run to the doctor when they need a new therapy to save their lives. 1) We live on an vastly overcrowded planet. 2) Are the right-wingers going to adopt a baby born due to anti-abortion laws to a 14 year old African American girl from poverty? or a baby infected with HIV? No, I didn’t think so. The ultra right Trumpets have the absolute nerve to say they are pro-life when they gladly will destroy universal health care, medicare and reroute the money to the ultra wealthy of 788 Billion dollars in tax cuts only for the ultra wealthy while millions will die in America alone. Thanks to funding cut from Planned Parenthood which btw (ONLY 3% of their services for women’s health is for contraception or abortion) have been completely cut in many third-world nations such as Africa and now, thanks to their fake morality, HIV and unplanned pregnancy that will probably result in death or a young life that will die of malnutrition due to warlords or evil governments. Let’s put it this way. I grew up in a conservative “Christian” home. My mother became a raging alcoholic and beat me as well as verbally and sexually assaulted me. If I was given the “Choice” before I was born to be aborted or be born into a world where either a God of Grace will save me despite my many faults or a God of Hellfire or Brimstone will judge me and send me to Hell for something I did wrong as I NEVER asked to be born to take the DAMNED test of Damnation of my soul meanwhile, dealing with extreme depression and hyper anxiety due to my past, I would have GLADLY chosen – “ABORT ME NOW!” – I think the show addressed the topic in a sensitive and serious manner from all angles and did it well. Cole Surprised me. He manned up when most boys won’t. Another pressure we put on young girls. How about we leave it up to the choice of the Supreme Court that I assure you during their fateful decision of Roe V/S Wade was rather conservative then, but given the evidence and all of the truths, made the only choice they could. Leave it up to the woman to choose and the choice will be between her and God as it is NO easy Choice for anyone ever! A woman, however, should ALWAYS have the choice, not the government of hypocrites and not a bunch of uneducated opinions. Read your history books to find out more.

Jonny

Geez, Travers, it’s a “cop-out” for a young woman to choose to keep her unborn baby rather than offer it up to be sliced and diced on the altar of Selfish Convenience? This is why most Americans are getting disgusted with Hollywood, where Progressivism is God and any other line of thought is sneered at or outright silenced.

Sam James

So Travers you think this is ‘superficially conservative’? What a made up headline that means…nothing. What would that be anyway? Also, to say the decision to opt out of an abortion is a “cop out”, is really a cop-out for you not to realize that people have a choice—not to have an abortion! You wouldn’t be here if that “cop-out” wasn’t taken by your mother! Don’t be another jerk writer who readers can see through your political agenda. You really don’t want to add this review of yours to your resume. It is woefully lacking any journalistic integrity.

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