“Letterkenny” is the comedy of your dreams, healthy, dirty and endless
You will know within the first three minutes of LetterkennyIt’s first episode if this show is for you. After a brief title card showcasing this small Canadian town – “Letterkenny is made up of rats, skids, hockey players and Christians. These are their problems.” – we meet farmers Wayne and Daryl, who run their roadside produce stand. Two hockey players roll around and, for small, small town tribal reasons, get into a fight. They take off their shirts, and Wayne and Daryl, almost literally without batting an eyelid, proceed to verbally demolish them both with military precision.
“What’s going on with your fucking hair, big shoots? You look like a 12-year-old Dutch girl,” pleads Wayne, rural Ontario vowels around crisp consonants. “Is your beautician’s headdress that for you?”
The combination of specificity, savagery, convoluted insults bordering on Shakespearean and idiosyncratic small-town syntax makes Letterkenny the kind of spectacle that almost immediately seeps into your personal vocabulary. When our dog is in need or wanders around the living room, my partner says “I might like to get about 20% off, buddy.” When it’s time to get on with a task or story, one of us will say “Pitter patter” (short for “Pitter patter, let’s go to ‘er”). If someone within earshot starts a sentence with “To be fair,” my brain just can’t help but repeat it in three part harmony with accented vowels and plums. Once you dive in you will understand.
Letterkenny started as a Twitter account, then a web series called Letterkenny Problems, created by Jared Keeso, who based both on his own hometown of Listowel. Keeso also plays Wayne – a good old boy with a lantern jawbone and baby bangs, eternally clad in a flannel shirt tucked into tight-fitting straight jeans, with a permanent squint and a general look of stoic exasperation at other nonsense visiting him constantly, from his awkward buds to men challenging him for the title of Toughest Guy In Letterkenny.
Wayne, his sister Katy (Michelle Mylett), their longtime friend Daryl (Nathan Dales) and the gnomic and benevolent squirrel Dan (K. Trevor Wilson), when they are not working, spend most of their time sitting at the booth produce, drink a lot, enter donnybrooks (fights), drink after entering donnybrooks, smoke darts (cigarettes) and, in their own way, help keep the delicate peace in their delicate Ontario town of 5,000 inhabitants.
But above all, they are joking. The pun of Letterkenny is a complex and fast-paced model of very specific regional slang, ten dollar words, pop culture anecdotes detailed enough to rival Community’s convoluted asides, fart jokes, a parcel curse, and an endless amount of finely crafted insults.
The peak moment of the pun could be the cold opening of Season 3 (literally), where Keeso delivers an astonishing stream of alliterative thoughts on winter, inspired by Blackalicious’s iconic “Alphabet Aerobics”.
The aforementioned hockey himbos, Riley and Jonesy, speak in an almost unintelligible flow of (seemingly accurate) ice hockey slang and gym-bro lingo. They devote themselves, in ascending order, to hockey, to sexual conquests and to each other, and I would die for them. The “skids”, a meth-heads rave-goth band in town, center on aspiring bowler-hat DJ Stewart, who looks like an off-brand Gerard Way, wields unnecessarily whimsical vocabulary like a neckbeard subreddit, and not so -Pines secretly for Katy.
There are also the natives of the reserve near town, led by the flint and fascinating Tanis (Kaniehtiio Horn), who might be the only person in Letterkenny tougher than Wayne. (The show was praised for its consultative and precise approach to her portrayal of First Nations.) And there’s no shortage of recurring characters – from grumpy, glazed Minister Glen (co-creator Jacob Tierney) and aggressively hypersexual bartender Gail (Lisa Codrington) to the shit-talking god of hockey. Shoresy (again Keeso, his face still darkened and other often heavily exposed body parts), and two guys who may or may not have fucked an ostrich once.
Jonesy and Riley, hockey husbands. Ferda.
Credit: Amanda Matlovich / Hulu
The gang’s low-stakes antics veered wildly between the small town quirks and the wholesomeness of Parks and recreation to the self-involved chaos of It’s always nice in Philadelphia. It’s not especially about being politically correct, but it’s never mean; in addition, hicks and their friends offer a view of “traditional” masculinity that is largely at ease with the modern world and the right of everyone to live as they want as long as they do not harm anyone else. other. (Squirrelly Dan is sometimes called out for being clumsy in Katy’s general direction at first, but by Season 3, he’ll confidently call a friend for occasional “homophobism” and loves to share ideas from his Women’s Studies class. )
There’s a one-on-one brawl or all-out brawl in almost every episode, because that’s how some issues just need to be addressed – but they’re filmed in slow motion, and there’s almost always a handful of hand and a hand reaching out to lift the loser off the ground afterwards. The continuum of “hard” or “soft” hicks is not binary, and it is not attributed any moral or social value beyond entertainment. They might collide to be “10-fold”, but it’s clear from the second episode that “sweetness” and play must be enjoyed as fully as donnybrook or getting hammered on whiskey: Katy and Wayne cast “super sweet birthday party,” which features cupcake decorating, colorful cocktails, plastic tiaras, and a horse disguised as a unicorn. And in almost every brief interstitial on-camera shot where Keeso presents scenarios that would have all happened “the other dayeeeeee,” he’s holding a puppy. (One of the few times Wayne breaks the stoic squint is when he’s addressing one of his dogs directly, and that’s, as Stewart would say, wonderful.)
There is also a brawl during this holiday. Obviously.
Letterkennyis also notable for his shameless sexual positivity. Wayne will sometimes note that “there is such a thing as too much butt talk and a guy should be aware of it,” but enjoys curling their toes without a string as much as anyone. The LGBTQ portrayal ranges from the cartoonish – Glen, and the adorably howling skidding Roald playing a dog-collared Smithers to Stewart’s Mr. Burns – to the pragmatic. Katy, whose open bisexuality and penchant for dating two guys at the same time is never judged or questioned except for reasons of taste, enjoys it as much as the boys do, but she’s more than a Cool Girl token. .
As Parks, the first season is a bit wobbly at times, with a few characters later quietly redesigned and some abandoned story arcs – so don’t be too put off by the weird Christians or the boring one-note joke of Glen’s flamboyance. The seasons are short – usually six episodes each with a different holiday-themed special that’s less serialized – but there are nine, with two more on the way, and rewatch’s value is high.
Letterkenny is deeply Canadian – from the all-dressed Ruffles the Hicks Snack flavor to basic good manners embedded in Wayne’s personal code of honor and a reference to the Canadian classic YA It can’t happen at Macdonald Hall that made me spit out my glass. But it’s wonderfully universal at the same time. All small towns have insignificant dramas, unique traditions, colorful inhabitants, and a sidelong eye ready to go at the first clue of big city pretension; anyone who grew up or spent time in a farming town will recognize some of these people. It’s a sitcom with a heart as big as its quick mind, and a few simple rules: if a friend asks for help, you help. Belts are not necessary if you are just buying pants that fit you. And as long as everyone is having a good time, there’s no reason to be poop.
The nine seasons of Letterkenny are available to stream on Hulu.