I’d heard of Letterkenny, but had never got around to watching it. But with the latest season of the Canadian cult series set to debut on SBS VICELAND, it seemed like the perfect time to find out what all the fuss was about – or is that “aboot”? – when it came to this award-winning sitcom.
As a newbie, it meant going back to the start and binge-watching all ten seasons of the sitcom, which have been repackaged into seven seasons at SBS On Demand.
The show began life in 2013 as a YouTube series called Letterkenny Problems, created by Jared Keeso, who plays main character Wayne. It was picked up as a TV series by Canadian streaming service Crave and the first season of Letterkenny debuted in 2016.
Sixty-seven episodes later, the show’s chalked up ten seasons plus two spin-off series: the animated Littlekenny and the upcoming Shoresy, about the brash hockey player of the same name, also portrayed by Keeso.
One thing I discovered about Letterkenny from the outset is that the English-language (with a fair smattering of French) comedy is more than a tad bawdy, crude and violent. People who like their humour on the sophisticated side should probably steer clear of it.
But the series also has many endearing qualities, from its likeable lead characters to its funny scripts packed with sharp one-liners, Canadian slang, inventive profanity and clever wordplay. There are also plenty of well-shot action sequences, whether it’s on the ice hockey rink or during a bar room brawl.
The series is set in the small rural town of Letterkenny, Ontario and centres around siblings Wayne and Katy (Michelle Mylett), who run a farm and produce stand when they’re not hanging out with their friends Daryl (Nathan Dales) and Squirrely Dan (K. Trevor Wilson).
Wayne is taciturn, helpful and constantly taking on contenders for his title of toughest fighter in town.
The four friends – and most of their fellow locals – are collectively known as “hicks”. Although laidback by nature, they regularly clash with other factions in Letterkenny, including the Skids, a bunch of Goth meth addicts led by Stewart (Tyler Johnston), and the hockey players, represented by dumb jocks Reilly (Dylan Playfair) and Jonesy (Andrew Herr).
There are also occasional run-ins with the Native Americans from the nearby reservation, led by the feisty Tanis (Kaniehtiio Horn).
However, something becomes apparent after watching a few episodes. They’re happy to insult and scrap with one another, but the various factions will unite forces if faced with a common threat, whether it’s “degens (degenerates) from upcountry”, their neighbours from Quebec or tiki torch-bearing alt-right agitators.
“That’s small towns in a snow globes for yas,” Squirrely Dan says in his own unique way. “We might bickers with each others on the insides, but if someone from the outsides comes a-knockin’…”
Much of the series focuses on Wayne’s quest to find true love… when he’s not “choring” on the farm, drinking or fighting. When we first meet him in season one, the farmer is newly single after his high school sweetheart of five years cheated on him.
By the end of season two, he’s dating dog breeder Rosie (Clark Backo), but this breaks down after he has a drunken fight with her cousin and she later moves away.
Wayne has a brief fling with Tanis before a fateful meeting at a buck’n’doe party in Quebec leads to Daryl hooking up with Anik (Kim Cloutier) and Wayne starting a relationship with Marie-Fréd (Magalie Lépine Blondeau).
Both women are destined to break the fellas’ hearts, but Wayne eventually gets over it. Heck, he’s such a good guy that he even helps Marie-Fréd buy a new truck in a later episode.
By the time season ten rolls around Rosie has returned to Letterkenny and into Wayne’s arms, but the pair are in no hurry to rush things.
Of course, there are plenty of major storylines involving other town residents along the way. Ongoing gags include the ineptitude of the town’s hockey teams and the suspicious fires that have twice gutted the local bar MoDean’s, run by the oversexed Gail (Lisa Codrington), but in reality, very little changes.
“The only constant around here,” says Squirrely Dan, “is that everything stays the sames.”
And that’s the nicest aspect about Letterkenny. Despite everything that’s happened to the characters over the years, they remain pretty much the same people we met in the first episode.
Wayne’s still a laconic, stoic man of honour willing to lend a hand to anyone who needs it. Daryl’s still his awkward best friend in smelly barn clothes. Squirrely Dan’s still, well… Squirrely Dan. Katy’s still a fun-lovin’ gal who, much to her big brother’s consternation, refuses to wear more than the bare minimum of clothing in public.
And they’re still a bunch of good ol’ boys and girls who like nothing more than some ice-cold Puppers beers, a few Gus N’ Bru whisky shots and a donnybrook.
You could do a lot worse than checking out Letterkenny for a rowdy good time. As Wayne might say, with just a hint of impatience in his voice, “I’m surprised we’re not watching it right now!”
Season seven of Letterkenny will screen weekly at 8.30pm from Wednesday 2 February on SBS VICELAND.
All seven seasons of Letterkenny are available at SBS On Demand. Start from the beginning:
Jump to the latest season: