The best comedy currently airing is back with its 7th season! I’ve mentioned it a few times before but in honour of the new batch of episodes, and for the uninitiated, I’m here to highly recommend it again.
“There are 5000 people in Letterkenny.
These are their problems.”
So begins every episode, as we meet the residents of the fictional Canadian town of the title – Hicks (farmers), Skids (drug dealers/users with a penchant for hard techno and street dancing), Hockey Players (who skate for one of the community’s two teams), the First Nation (natives), and all the weirdos in between.
Wayne (series creator Jared Keeso) and Katy are siblings who maintain a farm and produce stand on the outskirts of the town, with help from Wayne’s best friend Dary and neighbour ‘Squirrelly’ Dan, and these four comprise the main characters of the show. Throughout the six seasons so far, Wayne has clashed with the Skids (and another Letterkenny dealer/paramour, Tannis) over their various schemes to rip-off the community, routinely humiliated hockey BFF bros Jonesey and Riley (who, when the show begins, are in a polyamorous relationship with Katy), and tried his best to keep the town free of ‘Degens (degenerates) from upcountry’, while avoiding the advances of the town bar owner/deviant Gail, local sexpot Bonnie McMurray, the older McMurrays (a married couple who “embrace the lifestyle… figger it out”), and sexually confused pastor Glen (series director Jacob Tierney). On top of this, he’s trying to find love following the crushing end of a long-term relationship, AND is routinely challenged for the title of ‘The Toughest Guy in Letterkenny’ and forced into impromptu fist fights both at home and in town (“I’d have a scrap”).
The bursts of stylized violence are a key part of what makes Letterkenny so unique as a comedy. For long stretches the show is visually slow paced, with extended scenes of the characters just trading barbs and shooting the breeze, but when things kick off – and they often do – they’re done with a panache that really makes them stand out. Uniformly shot in slow motion, they look great and are surprisingly brutal at times, while usually backed by an exceptional song choice; the soundtrack as a whole is fantastic, but it’s during these sequences, when combined with the visual style and flair, that it really shines. However, and this is important, this isn’t a show about or focused on violence at all; almost all the confrontations end with the shake of a hand and some shared bottles of suds (and Wayne retaining his Toughest Guy title, of course).
The focus here is 100% on character and great writing, and these are Letterkenny’s two greatest strengths; every part on the show, down to the smallest role, is great, even if they are intentionally unlikable or weird or gross (Gail in particular is fond of using sexual descriptions that will turn your stomach, or your hair white, or both). You believe these small town interactions and relationships, so even in the heightened and slightly absurd world of the series, it feels real. For a show about a bunch of yokels, it’s written with an exceeding amount of cleverness, as jokes pile upon jokes; brutal one-liners can be deployed as often as every sentence, early jokes become beloved running gags and callbacks as the story progresses and, in later seasons especially, the dialogue leans heavily into some wordplay and punwork that is both genius and very silly (the Amish family The Dycks for example – yes, it’s pronounced exactly how you think – led by matriarch Anita… say her full name out loud in a Canuck accent). Overall, it has a totally original brand of humour, and once you click in with its rhythms, it’s impossible to resist. I binged all six seasons in a matter of weeks, and found myself quoting it almost immediately: “Howareyanow?… Goodnyou?”, “You’re just spare parts, aren’t ya bud?”, “You might wanna take about 5-10% off the top there” and “That’s what I appreciates about yous” are all mainstays in my lexicon now, and they will be in yours too. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘Seinfeld with hicks’, and while that’s not an entirely fair comparison, it’s not wholly inaccurate either. Both shows feature a central quartet of characters who seem to view the world slightly differently from those around them, and communicate almost in their own shorthand. It’s a language you’ll be speaking soon as well.
While it’s not a new show – it debuted in 2015 – Letterkenny is absolutely one of the best programs I’ve watched this year, and the season five finale, ‘Bock et Biche’, instantly became one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen. It features a glorious extended camaraderie/bar brawl/ending sequence (cut to French band Harmonium’s wonderful track, ‘Un Musicien Parmi Tant D’Autres‘) that manages to be heartwarming, uplifting, melancholy, badass, and beautiful in the space of a few dialogue-free minutes. Pretty remarkable for a show that can pull a huge laugh out of you just by having a character say “Guess what? CHICKEN BUTT!”, and fart.
But then, that’s Letterkenny. It is pretty remarkable, to be fair…
🎵 to be faaair… 🎵
🎵 Tooo beee faaair… 🎵
🎵 TOOOO BEEEEE FAAAAAAAAIR! 🎵
[This post was originally posted to The Good (Movie & TV) Place, a Facebook group]