Roush Review: ‘Rutherford Falls’ a Fun Place to Visit

Rutherford Falls - Ed Helms Jana Schmieding
Colleen Hayes/Peacock

Rutherford Falls

Matt's Rating: rating: 4.0 stars

“This isn’t a great time for people who love statues,” the mayor of fictional Rutherford Falls tells the small Northeastern town’s first-family descendant, Nathan Rutherford (The Office’s Ed Helms at his most endearingly befuddled). But does Nathan, a perky local-history buff, listen? If he did, there wouldn’t be much of a show.

Peacock’s Rutherford Falls, dropping its entire first season for a rib-tickling binge, is a gentle but knowing satire about cultural appropriation. It’s also a progressive step forward in indigenous representation on screen and behind the scenes. Series co-creator and executive producer Sierra Teller Ornelas (Navajo) oversees a writing room including five Native-American writers.

The series kicks into gear early, depicting Nathan’s public disgrace after he oversteps while defending his ancestor and town founder’s statue, now a traffic liability. A stranger to nuance, and an unknowing menace to the mega-corporation that also bears the family name, Nathan can’t understand why so few share his enthusiasms — including members of his own dismissive family, but mostly the Native Americans who got a raw deal in the town charter.

Case in point: While Nathan pompously leads tours through his family’s spacious Heritage Museum, the puny indigenous Cultural Center is nestled within the town casino. His best friend Reagan (the delightful Jana Schmieding) hopes to expand the center, with Nathan’s hapless encouragement, but first she must convince her profit-minded boss (Michael Greyeyes), who senses an opportunity to usurp the Rutherford name every time Nathan puts his foot in his mouth.

rutherford falls peacock michael greyeyes

(Credit: Colleen Hayes/Peacock)

Enter an earnest NPR reporter (Schitt’s Creek’s Dustin Milligan) who senses a “powder keg” in the confrontation to come and sticks around to observe. He figures that Rutherford’s fall bears watching, and so far it does.

Rutherford Falls, Series Premiere, Thursday, April 22, Peacock