Canada has brought us a comedy show so good I have almost forgiven them for Bryan Adams.
There are 5000 people in Letterkenny. These are their problems.
Letterkenny, Ontario is a rural town populated by a variety of subcultures. The show focuses on the Hicks: Wayne (Jared “The Next Wolverine” Keeso), his sister Katy (Michelle Mylett), his best friend Daryl (Nathan Dales), and his other best friend Squirrelly Dan (K. Trevor Wilson). Wayne and the hicks run the local produce stand and regularly scrap and drink with many of the locals, ranging from the Hockey Players Reilly and Jonesy (Dylan Playfair and Andrew Herr) to the local drug dealers Stewart and Roald (Tyler Johnston and Evan Stern) to the bartender Gail (Lisa Codrington) to fellow hicks the McMurrays (Dan Petronijevic, Melanie Scrofano, and Kamilla Kowal). Stuff happens, funny things are said and done.
I could honestly have described every single episode plot of this show in depth and I would still not consider it spoiled, because the dialogue and the characters are the entire point of the show. This is one of the wittiest shows I’ve watched in a while, mostly because almost everyone in the series is enamored with the English (and occasionally French) language, playing with it as much as they can. Almost every single conversation is an exploration of puns, references, witticisms, and creative colloquialisms. They are so fond of coming up with slang terms for various things that the fan page has a literal guide to Letterkenny slang. Admittedly, some of them are just Canadian terms that an American like myself just doesn’t hear much (like the Caesar being the Great White Northern counterpart to the Bloody Mary), but the amount that the show comes up with is still prodigious.
Part of what makes this show work is that it captures some elements of small town life that most shows just never get. Or, at least, what small towns were like before the prescription drug epidemic took over in the mid-90s. It’s notable in the show that, despite the number of drugs that some of the characters are shown doing, there basically never is a reference to oxycontin or barbiturates. Pretty much everyone is shown to be heavy-drinking, smoking, and often have used other drugs in the past, however. Basically, Letterkenny is a lot like a small US town in 1994. Local sports are a big thing, people shoot the sh*t on porches a lot, everyone has weird traditions that they work to keep up, and there are random “scraps” where two people will fight just to determine which of them is tougher. Part of the show deals with Wayne attempting to preserve his reputation as the “toughest guy in Letterkenny,” something he upholds adeptly.
Another thing the show has going for it is that it isn’t afraid to try new, and sometimes random, changes to the format and characters. For example, one season features the hicks starting their own cable access show, then abandoning it when they get bored. One season features the local hockey team folding and the women’s hockey team becoming the focus. The show rarely gives much of an explanation or set-up for these things, instead just saying that’s how it’s going to be. Since the characters usually move on quickly, the audience does too.
The show rewards diligent viewing by having a number of running gags, which perfectly fits it as a streaming show. One of my favorites is that the Hicks cannot just say “to be fair,” without everyone harmonizing. It’s also one of the most quotable shows out there right now and I find myself doing it frequently.
Overall, I really just recommend this show. Like many shows, I don’t think it really started to find its stride until the second season, but the first season is still pretty good.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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