“Outsiders” tells the story of the Farrell family, generations of squatters who live apart from the modern world on a Kentucky mountain, and their struggle against a mining company that wants to relocate them. The series has plenty of conflicts but few of them are complex, making it difficult to care about the disappearance of the Farrell’s rural way of life.

As the series begins, the clan is poised to celebrate a power shift from the matriarch Lady Ray, the current Bren’in or royal, to her son Big Foster (David Morse). But Asa Farrell (Joe Anderson), a cousin whose recent and controversial return to Shay Mountain after ten years in the real world, changes her mind. Asa’s reappearance coincides with the mining company’s purchase and Lady Ray believes he is part of a prophecy. Along with bad decision by a curious Farrell named Hasil (Kyle Gallner) who likes to explore the local town, Asa’s return sets in motion a string of events that threaten to destroy the Farrell’s and those who oppose them.

Asa fights the clan’s resistance at welcoming him back and eventually wins most of them over after participating in a hillbilly version of a joust on ATV’s. Despite his hard fought re-entry into Farrell society, he is unsettled. Giving the character a simultaneous desire and unease about rejoining the clan complicates him but it would be more powerful if his backstory added up to more than “the big, bad world out there seduced me with all its vice” claims.

Asa’s internal conflict, like the show’s other battles, is a missed opportunity to explore deeper issues. Big Foster’s dysfunctional relationship with his son Lil’ Foster (Ryan Hurst), despite a solid performance from Hurst, loses the dark undercurrent it’s trying to achieve by making Big Foster a cliché villain. The conflicted and fearful Deputy Sheriff Wade Houghton Jr. (Thomas M. Wright) is an interesting choice for a law enforcement character but it’s not until episode three that you begin to understand him and by then its almost too late. The larger fight between modernity and the Farrell’s way of life is given a few lines at a town hall meeting but it does little to convince you to care.

Who you see as the outsiders of the title depends on which perspective you take. To the Farrell’s, the world beyond Shay Mountain is foreign. To the townspeople who live at the base of the hills, the clan is a strange, almost mythological tribe (as well as an obstacle to their economic empowerment).

But what makes the Farrell’s true outsiders is a concept more foreign than voluntarily using an outhouse in 2016. They do not value money. This is the source of their power and their potential downfall. It’s the most intriguing idea in the series and if used more thoughtfully, would have made for a compelling story.

“Outsiders” premieres on January 26 at 9 p.m. EDT on WGN America.

Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.