Whenever I try to explain to people how genius Trailer Park Boys is, I end up sounding somewhat stupid. Think about how this television series would be described: a couple of Canadian trailer trash, with the help of their oddball neighbors, constantly try to score one last job so they can finally retire. Of course, their schemes almost always involve drugs, booze, or theft and almost always land them in jail. In fact, it's become a running joke of the series that at the end of every season you can expect that they get arrested (almost every season, that is).
But the genius is less about the context of the show and more about the delivery. Robb Wells (Ricky), for example, has mastered the art of dumb. You can actually see his character's lack of brain power as he struggles to make words come out of his mouth. It's a very limited vocabulary for Ricky that includes one major component: swearing. He also has a habit of using incorrect versions of famous sayings. For Ricky, it's not "I told you so"; instead, it's "atodaso". It's not "Indiana Jones," it's "Indianapolis Jones". And it's not that he's totally dim-witted. He just doesn't know how to process things outside of his childlike brain. Of course, it doesn't help that he's nearly always doped up. But to play a character that believably dumb, you're either a great actor or truly that dumb. Having seen Wells being interview in his own voice proves it's the former. Mike Smith, especially, adds to that proof. For several seasons, I thought Bubbles was somewhat real, but as it turns out, Mike Smith is nothing like Bubbles. As I said: genius.
|Ricky, Bubbles, and Julian|
The low-fi video quality adds to the show's charm and logically makes sense. Who else but a low budget film crew with old technology would want to document trailer trash? Not that I'm insulting the trailer park community, but neither is the show. They're simply using stereotypical characters in a stereotypical setting. Fortunately, however, they've added heart to these people.
First Scene of First Episode
(Warning: Explicit Language)
Trailer Park Boys was created by Mike Clattenburg (Director) utilizing the skills of his actor friends Robb Wells and John Paul Tremblay. In 1998, Clattenburg wrote and directed a short film titled One Last Shot, which followed the exploits, in documentary style, of Ricky and Julian (Wells and Tremblay, respectively). After which, Clattenburg directed a feature film entitled Trailer Park Boys in 1999. The film caught the attention of Producer Barrie Dunn who suggested the idea of a television series based on the characters. Clattenburg and Dunn, along with Wells and Tremblay, pitched the idea to Showcase and were rewarded with a 6-episode season. Its success led to more seasons and the development of more characters.
|Mike Clattenburg (Director, Co-Creator)|
|Mike Smith as "Bubbles"|
The show's style can be described very simply as lowbrow humor for a highbrow audience. There's a surprisingly large amount of smart dialogue and intelligent references within each episode. It's typical of the show to combine witty (and sometimes witless) remarks and slapstick humor. It caters to a wide audience, not just dumb jokes. Of course some of their dumber recurring jokes are their strongest. The fact that Julian always has a drink in his hand is never mentioned but always intact.
The show also walks a fine line of realism. There are moments when you have to wonder if the people within the "documentary" are showing off because they know they're being filmed. That awareness helps make the characters believable. It explains why so many of them have bad lines and inconsistent behavior - they're just saying and doing what they think is cool for the camera at that moment. Why else would every driving scene end with a car coming to a screeching halt? How would the cameramen know when and where to frame the camera that perfectly? It's as if Ricky had suggested it to the documentary crew off screen. As if he would say, "Hey, stand right there 'cause it would be cool if my car stopped right in front of your camera."
|TPB gang circa fourth season|
L-R Top Row: Detroit Velvet Smooth, J-Roc, and Tyrone
Middle Row: Sarah, Lucy, Trinity, Julian, Bubbles, Ricky, Barb, Jim Lahey, Randy
Bottom Row: Cory and Trevor
The show ran for a whopping seven seasons and produced two feature films. There's also a live show entitled The Ricky, Julian and Bubbles Community Service Variety Show. The premise is that they are fulfilling court ordered community service to demonstrate the dangers of alcohol and drugs; another genius idea.
Mike Smith, John Paul Tremblay, and Robb Wells also created a new series entitled The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour which showcases the actors playing "themselves." They wake up in a drunken haze and soon realize that they've been drugged, and apparently during their hallucination they created a TV series. To make matters worse, everyone on the show has been drugged as well and actually believe they're the characters that they're playing. The show boasts several well-known actors including Amy Sedaris, Maury Chaykin, Jay Baruchel, and some familiar faces from Trailer Park Boys.
It's definitely worth a look, but keep an open mind because it's not fair to compare it to Trailer Park Boys. The two shows each have their own distinct flavors. It is fair to say, however, that if you love the actors from Trailer Park Boys, then you just might appreciate what they've done on Happy Funtime Hour. (Note: Happy Funtime Hour may be hard to find outside of Canada. Here's a Youtube link for the first episode: www.youtu.be/oKli8X4RsmM)
|John Paul Tremblay, Mike Smith, and Robb Wells|
TRIVIA: A tradition in the series is that Ricky will wear the same shirt for the entire season.