The Existential Poetry of Trailer Park Boys
by Tabitha Vidaurri
I have been watching the shit out of Trailer Park Boys. Netflix kept recommending it to me for years, insisting "Tabitha's Rating" would be five stars. I said, "No, Netflix, not today." I found the cover photo off-putting, and the vibe I got from it was sort of a crappy Reno 911, a lame attempt at making fun of white trash. Boy was I wrong.
A couple weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to watch it. And it's the tits! Not only that, but it borders on genius. Genius tits! Netflix, I should have never doubted you.
Much like Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson's Bottom, Trailer Park Boys is reminiscent of a Beckett play – not a whole lot happens plot-wise, and the characters do not ever seem to learn from their mistakes. There's a general sense of hopelessness in the atmosphere, and alcohol, weed and chips are the only thing that provide any relief from the dull life in the Nova Scotia hamlet called Sunnyvale.
The show centers on Ricky, a borderline illiterate, chain-smoking ex-con who mispronounces 40% of the words he says. Ricky wears the same track pants in every single episode. The show's voice of reason is Julian, a slightly wiser and better-groomed ex-con who is never seen without a rum and Coke in his hand.
The main through-line of the show is Ricky and Julian's repeated attempts to grow weed; this Sisyphean struggle is the central plot of every season. That and running from the drunk trailer park supervisor, Lahey, and his perennially shirtless assistant, Randy. Lahey and Randy are reveled to be in a romantic relationship, which nobody seems to really care much about. The boys may be uneducated but they are never homophobic or racist. There are way more important things to worry about, like growing weed.
And then of course there's Bubbles, the dude with the huge eyes magnified in his glasses. He's the one that is featured on the center of every Trailer Park Boys cover and I didn't think I was going to like the show because of him. It seemed dangerously close to something out of a Farrelly Brothers movie. Luckily Mike Smith is a brilliant comedian and his timing and improvisational talents have created a character with quite a bit of depth and complexity. For Bubbles is the patron saint of trailer park kitties, he cleans up and takes care of the "little cocksuckers." There are a lot of cats on the show, but it's pretty accurate. A community with lower property value and poor mental hygiene with have higher levels of cats, that's a scientific fact.
Last and least there's Corey and Trevor, the two idiots who are all too happy to work on Ricky and Julian's schemes. They're like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern if Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were Canadian teenagers with boners.
I think one of the reasons I like this show so much is because it is not unlike the apartment complex where I grew up. I am familiar with substance abuse and how it destroys families, and I have seen adults fight over bags of chips. Like the cats, potato chips, particularly chicken flavor, are a prominent theme in the show, even replacing marijuana as currency at some points.
Like the coyote's pursuit of the roadrunner, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles seem to fail spectacularly at each plan, winding up in jail at the end of each season. But it never crushes their spirit, and Ricky has only positive things to say about jail.
I should have known to trust Netflix. Trailer Park Boys is laden with nihilism, violence and heavy Canadian accents. Also it's just really goddamn funny.
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." – Samuel Beckett
"Make like a tree and fuck off." - Ricky