Trailer Park Boys score big

Bubbles wins this hash-hockey game.
Bubbles wins this hash-hockey game.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of Alliance Atlantis

The Trailer Park Boys are back, and they’re greasier than ever.

The always hard-done-by Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, along with the rest of the Sunnyvale Trailer Park gang have returned, and this time they’re poised for superstardom. In just three short seasons, the controversial mockumentary has grown from relative obscurity into a cult phenomenon, and now appears ready to make the leap into the mainstream.

In Canada, the Showcase original series is in its fourth season, and is continuing to deliver its unique brand of racy, faux-reality, satirical hilarity. However, this season marks the first time Trailer Park Boys has aired on American television. The cable channel BBC America began airing season one on April 15. There is even talk of a possible Trailer Park Boys movie in the near future. Things are looking up for the boys from the gutter—way up.

Trailer Park Boys has come a long way from its humble beginnings as the short film, “One Last Shot,” which developed into the feature length, rather unimpressive, yet promising, independent film, Trailer Park Boys. The latter became the show’s pilot, and launched its six-episode inaugural season.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it is filmed like a low-budget documentary and follows the exploits of a bunch of recidivist, dope-growing, chicken finger-eating, grade 10-failing, “swish”-drinking, petty thugs in their trailer park—located somewhere in Nova Scotia. The two main thugs, Ricky and Julian, along with their visually impaired sidekick, Bubbles, are the stars of the show. The boys are always working on new get-rich-quick schemes that repeatedly land them back in jail. The show crassly depicts dysfunctional life on the margins of society in all its liquored-up glory. So far this season, we’ve seen Julian return from prison to find Ricky growing dope again, Bubbles end up in the drunk tank, Randy sell himself as a male prostitute, a massive field of marijuana, Julian open a massage parlour in the park, J-Roc get arrested to help sell his rap record and Bubbles as “The Green Bastard” in a tag-team wrestling match with Ricky against their arch nemese—former trailer park supervisor, Mr. Lahey, and his pot-bellied underling, Randy. All in only four episodes. Inevitably, even seedier schemes await the boys in the upcoming weeks.

Trailer Park Boys represents the latest in a long line of Canadian comedies that could be described as a little left-of-normal. From SCTV to Kids in the Hall to The Red Green Show, Canada is famous for producing its unique, and rather absurd brand of comedy. Whether it’s using a chunk of hash as a table-top hockey puck, or a cameo by Alex Lifeson from Rush, Trailer Park Boys has never shied away from its Canadian content. However, there is a quality beyond imagery that makes the show undeniably Canadian. Perhaps it is the charm of the underdog—which seems to be such a fundamental part of our national identity—that draws us to Trailer Park Boys. It seems that despite their thuggish behaviour, abhorrent dispositions and unrepentant criminal activity, we still rally behind the Boys in their attempts to foil “the man.” While certainly rough and unapologetic, the characters are still able to somehow charm us. Are the characters of Trailer Park Boys becoming Canadian icons? Are they our generation’s Bob and Doug McKenzie? They did star alongside Don Cherry in a Tragically Hip video. You can’t get much more Canadian than that.

However, the question remains, can the Trailer Park Boys’ raunchy sense of humour succeed in the more conservative American market? Undoubtedly, it will be difficult. Aside from the alienation that may result from the inherently Canadian jokes and references, there is also a censorship hurdle that the show must overcome. American audiences will be unable to hear Ricky’s trademark knock-knock jokes, or Bubbles’ profanity-ridden rants. Well, at least not in all their intended brashness. Instead, they will be forced to struggle through a multitude of annoying bleeps—of which, there will be plenty for sure. While profanity is undeniably an integral aspect of Trailer Park Boys’ hilarious dialogue, there is more to them than their simple shock value—it’s their timing and context that make them so funny. So, perhaps the bleeping will be of no hindrance at all. Still, it remains to be seen as to whether American audiences will be able to ‘get it’ in the same way as those north of the border have.

Already half-way through their fourth season, things are just beginning for the Trailer Park Boys family. Writer/director/producer Mike Clattenburg, along with John Paul Tremblay (Julian), Robb Wells (Ricky) and Mike Smith (Bubbles), has already started writing scripts for the fifth season. Recently, they were all in Los Angeles meeting with prospective production companies about a Trailer Park Boys movie. If that’s not enough, there is also the show’s American debut to get excited about. Time will tell how big Trailer Park Boys will become, but it’s not likely they’ll ever forget where they came from. Despite any future fame or international accolades, they’ll always be our own seedy, little, grease balls.

Trailer Park Boys Fun Facts

•Mike Smith (Bubbles) is the former guitarist and songwriter for the moderately successful Maritime rock band, Sandbox. Smith had never acted before in his life, and became involved with Trailer Park Boys as a sound technician for the initial film, which spawned the series.

•Smith and Robb Wells (Ricky) play for the Halifax Explosion recreational hockey team with lots of East Coast music types, including Chris Murphy from Sloan and Dave Marsh from the Joel Plaskett Emergency.

•Celebrity fans of the show include Kid Rock, Eddie Murphy and Morgan Freeman, who have all reportedly called Showcase asking for tapes.

•Rumour has it that Rita McNeil will be guest starring in season four’s finale.

•Cost to produce all eight episodes of season four = $1.8 million.

•Some of the more notable episode titles: “Fuck Community College Let’s Get Drunk and Eat Chicken Fingers,” “If I Can’t Smoke and Swear I’m Fucked,” “Never Cry Shitwolf” and “Rub ‘N’ Tiz’zug.”

•Jonathan Torrens, former host of CBC’s Jonovision, plays the role of white gangsta rapper, J-ROC.

—With files from cbc.ca, globeandmail.ca and Toronto Star’s Star Week TV Guide

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