NBC Comedy ‘Rutherford Falls’ Says It’s ‘Not Worth Being Friends With White People’

Colleen Hayes / Peacock
Colleen Hayes/Peacock

Rutherford Falls, an NBC comedy now airing on the network’s streaming service Peacock, is filled with anti-white deadpanning.

The show centers on Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms), a white man who is an arrogant town leader blindly defending his ancestor who found the fictional upstate New York town in 1683. That founder, Lawrence Rutherford, founded the town by breaking a treaty with the fictional Minishonka tribe and the series follows the white townspeople as they defend their town and the local Indian groups who protest them for being, well, bad white people.

On the other side of the issue is Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes), a Native leader who owns the Indian casino in the area. He justifies his ruthless version of capitalism by insisting that it is payback to the evil whites who kept his people down and stole their lands.

In one episode, for instance, Thomas — who proudly displays a photo of himself and Michelle Obama — claims that his capitalism is different from white capitalism because his casino “distributes revenue” to the members of the tribe.

“America only champions one form of capitalism, major corporations, which I should point out pay no taxes while we do. They keep all the money for those at the top. Tribal capitalism distributes revenue, in this case casino revenue, to everyone in the tribe,” Thomas said.

“American” capitalism works the same way. Shareholders receive the benefits of the success of a company.

The Native characters in the series so dislike white people that Reagan (Jana Schmieding), who runs a Minishonkan cultural center situated inside the casino, is portrayed in one episode as the judge of student projects extolling the virtues of the tribe. Reagan finds a student film entitled Faceless Minishonka. The film speaks of the oppression that the tribe has suffered and Reagan praises the film. Until, that is, she finds out a white kid made the film. Then she sours on it.

“Yeah, but it colors my enjoyment knowing that the film was made by some white kid, albeit a seemingly woke one. I just gotta question his intent in making art about my people,” Reagan says of the student film. Then she admits that if the exact same film was made by a Minishonka student, “Standing ovation. Give him all the Oscars!”

The attacks on white people continues throughout the series until in one episode, Terry Thomas deadpans that there is no reason to even be a friend with a white person. “So much drama. This is why it’s not worth being friends with white people,” Thomas says.

The series is, of course, supposed to be a comedy and the over-the-top attitudes exhibited by all the characters is played for laughs. But the anti-white quips come thick in the NBC series with white people portrayed as “colonizers,” and thieves, and the Natives portrayed as innocent victims. The early reviews have been far from raving.

“But based on the first four episodes (the portion sent to critics), the series isn’t quite root-worthy yet. Rutherford Falls’ biggest pitfall is its saggy pacing — the pilot, which runs a (rather unfunny) half-hour, feels twice as long,” The Hollywood Reporter notes. “There’s also both too much and not enough table-setting in these early installments.”

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