With the same swiftness they used to handle Kevin Spacey, Netflix has fired Danny Masterson from its show The Ranch after just *looks at notes, squints* nine months, four accusers, a comment from a source describing evidence as “overwhelming,” reports of a Scientology cover-up, one open letter from a victim and one very awkward children’s soccer game. I feel comfortable assuming it’s that last one that made the difference.
Netflix released a statement to HuffPo’s Yashar Ali saying, “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.” Masterson will still appear in the episodes that launch December 15, just for the information of the 13 people who were looking forward to that.
Despite the significantly lower profile of Masterson and The Ranch in comparison to Kevin Spacey and House of Cards, the complete lack of action by Netflix up to this point raises more questions than answers. For one, it only serves to confirm the suspicion Spacey’s immediate firing was mostly for show, as the show was already set to end. It also indicates Scientology serving some role here, perhaps through terrifying legal consequences, perhaps due to some powers-that-be serving as members of the organization, perhaps some other nebulous third thing. But ultimately what Netflix has shown is that money is more important than victims—money is why they’ll fire one, money is why they’ll keep another. With 2017’s Toyotathon of sexual predators, most of us have developed a healthy cynicism to the responses of these networks. Netflix’s shall we say interesting choices in determining worthiness of action is a great reason to stay cynical.