The Ranch returns for the second part of Season 2 on Dec. 15, but could the series be ending soon after? It was announced by the show's official Twitter this summer that a third season of The Ranch would air in 2018, but sexual misconduct allegations raised the possibility that The Ranch may be cancelled. The Colorado-set comedy about the dysfunctional Bennett family has aired 40 episodes on the streaming network since its debut in 2016. And along with a statement announcing the show's plan to write Masterson out of the show, Netflix indicated that it is moving forward in the production of new episodes that will air next year. Bustle has reached out to Netflix for further comment.
Masterson has been accused by four women of rape, allegedly occurring in the early '00s. According to The Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office have been investigating the claims against the actor for almost a year. (He maintains his innocence and has not been charged.) In early December, a Netflix spokesperson released a statement to HuffPo announcing that Masterson would not be a part of The Ranch going forward. It reads:
“As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of ′The Ranch.′ Yesterday was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him."
The actor, who played Rooster Bennett, older brother to Ashton Kutcher's Colt Bennett, denies all accusations. Masterson's representative Jenni Weinman shared the following statement with Bustle:
"I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to write my character off of The Ranch. From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused. I understand and look forward to clearing my name once and for all. In the meantime, I want to express my gratitude to the cast and crew that I’ve worked so closely with over the past three seasons. I wish them nothing but success. I am also so thankful to the fans that have supported me and continue to do so."
The accusations leveled against Masterson received additional coverage when a Netflix executive allegedly told one of Masterson's accusers that Netflix did not believe her, or her fellow accusers. Another statement to The Huffington Post confirmed the accuser's account of her conversation with Andy Yeatman, then director of global kids content. It reads:
"While he was coaching a youth soccer match today, Mr. Yeatman ― a Netflix kids’ programming executive ― was approached by a stranger who did not identify herself or explain her connection to Danny Masterson. Mr. Yeatman’s comments were careless, uninformed and do not represent the views of the company. Further, he would have no insights into decision making on The Ranch. We are aware of the allegations against Danny Masterson and we are following the current investigation, and will respond if developments occur."
Amidst all of this, The Ranch is still set to continue. However, writing Rooster Bennett out of the series still leaves a majority of the central cast intact. The questions now is how will Bennett be removed from the show? Will the show play Bennett's departure for laughs similarly to Charlie Sheen's removal from Two And a Half Men? Will the exit match the severity of the accusations against Masterson? Or will the show simply cast out a line or two about his absence?
While Masterson was a major presence on-camera for The Ranch, he also served for two seasons as an Executive Producer. It's unclear whether he will remain in that role, and Bustle has reached out to Netflix for comment. The Season 2 episodes that will feature his character will still be viewable on Netflix, and Deadline reported that Master will also appear in the Season 3 episodes that he'd already filmed by the time he was terminated.
While the show's future beyond Season 3 is unclear, the controversy surrounding Masterson's involvement with The Ranch will likely leave a lasting impact on the series.