Friday Flicks: Ride (2023)

Heartland meets Yellowstone in this Hallmark family drama.

Ride is a brand new series on Hallmark starring Nancy Travis, Beau Mirchoff and Tiera Skovbye.

The Synopsis:

“The members of the McMurray family embark on journeys of transformation and self-discovery as they struggle to keep their beloved Colorado ranch afloat after a tragic loss.”

The Plot:

The first episode in the series starts with a hectic ranch breakfast. Mom, played by Nancy Travis, is busy cooking a gargantuan amount of food for a packed room while everyone else — at least two brothers, one daughter-in-law, and one daughter-in-law’s best friend — discusses that night’s upcoming rodeo.

Also mentioned is Cash, a character immediately pinpointed as the “black sheep” of the family. There’s tension between Cash and the oldest brother, but we don’t know why.

Next, we’re at the rodeo. The daughter-in-law, Missy, is mid-suicide drag in her trick riding routine while the oldest McMurray brother and Missy’s husband, Austin, prepares for the bull riding competition. There’s an awkward moment at the end of Missy’s performance when the announcer eludes to the fact that Missy used to be so much more than a one-trick trick riding buckle bunny for Austin. Why doesn’t she compete in her own events anymore?

Then we have the moment.

You know what I’m talking about. That juicy bit of foreshadowing that is going to be a major plot point for the rest of the season, if not the entire series.

So, Cash comes home, presumably after a very long and abrupt absence.

Then Missy sees him. He clearly sought her out first.

And she runs into his arms, almost in tears, while they sort of hide under the grandstands.

But let’s not forget she’s married to Cash’s older brother.

At this point, Austin spots Cash with Missy and immediately goes defensive. These two brothers really don’t seem to like each other, and Missy has clearly been caught between the two of them for a long time. There’s not a huge confrontation, but the tension is palpable.

After some blatant peacocking, Austin skedaddles while Missy and Cash head to the stands — separately, I might add, with Cash acting like he just arrived — to sit with Mom. Meanwhile, Missy’s best friend, Val, leaves and meets Austin in the parking lot.

There’s something suspicious going on between these two.

Austin is super twitchy and weird when he tells Val the family could be in trouble and he needs her help. He also says he “knows her secret.” The threat is obvious. If she doesn’t help him, he’ll spill the beans.

So, Val drives away into the dark of night, and Austin parades into the bull riding ring, where it becomes obvious he’s the prodigal son. The star of the family. The “it” guy that everybody loves.

Then he dies.

Not really, because this kind of show rarely begins without a huge cataclysmic event.

Next, we catch up with the McMurray family one year later. Missy is looking over what appears to be a shrine to Austin, Mom is poring over delinquent bills and Cash has just started training for bull riding. I’m not a licensed psychologist, but a man that’s training to compete in a sport that killed his older brother — especially when he had a huge amount of unresolved interpersonal conflict with said brother — seems problematic.

There’s also a massive awkwardness brewing between Cash and Missy. It’s obvious that he’s been living at the ranch all year, which is probably the most time Missy has spent in day-to-day contact with him since “before,” as in before he left for unknown reasons and she married his older brother.

But anyway, let’s all just try to ignore that elephant in the room.

Everybody’s trying to navigate the now Austin-less world with Mom, Cash, and their youngest brother, Tuff, desperately scraping for money to save the ranch, while Missy questions her place in the McMurray family now that her husband is dead. She’s not sure she should stay at the ranch, but she also doesn’t have a job or anything to list on her resume besides “former Miss Rocky Mountain” and “widow of Austin McMurray.”

And then Val comes back to town.

Will the McMurray family implode? How many secrets can one family handle? You’ll just have to watch and see!

The Critique:

The first three episodes of Ride drew me in and I fully plan to watch the entire series.

The “will they or won’t they” between Cash and Missy is perfection. Beau Mirchoff, cast as Cash, has fully perfected his forlorn “totally in love with my dead brother’s wife but definitely can’t be with my dead brother’s wife” expression and Tiera Skovbye, playing Missy, seems capable of welling up her big green eyes at a moment’s notice — mostly when she’s looking at Cash not looking at her.

What’s great is that Hallmark doesn’t play around. All the other characters know these two are supposed to be together. We as the audience know these two are supposed to be together. The rollercoaster ride of emotions should be fun and I’m buckled up and ready to roll.

The show also strikes a perfect balance between Heartland, which I loved, and Yellowstone, which I don’t care for at all.

Speaking with Wide Open Country, Mirchoff had this to say: “I think it’s more relatable [than Yellowstone]. It’s interesting when a full family can watch a show together. Deep down, everyone wants that. Everyone loves shows about family — I love shows about family — and we all want a community. That’s all we want, really … to have community and love and respect, and I think family shows are a great conduit to show that. Also, Yellowstone isn’t very realistic. It’s this world where people are going around shooting anyone who comes on their ranch, and there are helicopters and the FBI. I mean, it’s a fun show, but you can have high stakes and drama without all those fantastical elements.”

Skovbye added, “There’s an amazing place for those high-action, drama, violence kind of things. People love them and are drawn to them for completely different reasons. But I think to have something that’s grounded in a family element and that’s very inclusive can be more uplifting in times when the world can be a really hard place and things can get dark. You don’t always necessarily want to watch a show that is dark and heavy at times. To have a show that’s connecting and loving and about family that you can watch with your family is a nice way to form that bond.”

The two leads also dedicated time to learning to ride. Mirchoff owned horses prior to being cast on the show and his fiancĂ© grew up riding. Skovbye had been on a horse before being cast, but wasn’t as adept in the saddle as Mirchoff. She underwent several weeks of training before shooting began, though she’s quick to note that she definitely doesn’t perform her own stunts.

“I didn’t learn how to do a suicide drag,” she stated. “That was a double that I had, and she was incredible. Watching her do that kind of stuff, I wanted to be there just to watch her because she’s such an incredible athlete. She’s super young, too, and she’s been doing this her whole life. It’s gymnastics on a horse, and it’s super fast, but she’s so calm. She was just like, “Whatever you need!” She has her own horse that she is so bonded with, and there’s so much trust and she takes such amazing care of this horse. That was really amazing to witness as well.”

Both actors make a point to attend rodeos near the Calgary-area working ranch where the show is being filmed.

Mirchoff said, “You learn so much in between going to the concessions and talking to people and meeting the young kids who are involved with pony rides and all the barrel racing and everything. It’s such a fast-paced event, and they have it really worked out, like how it flows from one event to the next. It’s such a family-oriented event, too, and it’s persevering towards a common goal. It’s really beautiful. I thought it was just fantastic.”

I give Ride (at least the first three episodes), 4 out of 4 Golden Horseshoes.

Go riding.

Amanda Uechi Ronan is an author, equestrian and wannabe race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @uechironan.