If you haven't heard Letterkenny, you're certainly not alone. Despite a popular six season run on the Canadian streaming service Crave, the series was virtually unknown to US audiences until reruns first appeared on Hulu in the summer of 2018. Since then, it's become a cult favorite on the platform -- so much so that this past May, Hulu announced that it had picked up a new seventh season of the series as a Hulu Original. That season arrives today, backed for the first time by the type of promotion we've come to expect from other Hulu Originals. If you're wondering what this show's all about, we've created a quick primer for fans and newbies alike.
The show's origins trace back to 2013, when Canadian actor Jared Keeso teamed up with Nathan Dales to create a short form web series called Letterkenny Problems. Starring the actors as two best friends named Wayne and Daryl who spend their time musing about life in a fictional rural Ontario town, the quirky web series caught Crave's attention, which ordered Letterkenny as its first original series in 2015. Six seasons and five specials later, Letterkenny has become the Canadian streaming platform's biggest success. Not unlike fellow Canadian comedy Schitt's Creek, American audiences have been slower to appreciate the show's charms, but in picking it up, Hulu is clearly hoping to follow in Creek's footsteps — and if the passion of the show's small but passionate US fanbase is any indication, they may just get their wish.
Letterkenny's main cast of characters can generally be broken up into three groups: the hicks, the skids, and the hockey players. "Hicks" Wayne and Daryl are joined by Wayne's sister Katy (Michelle Mylett) and their friend Squirrely Dan (K. Trevor Wilson) and can regularly be found choring on the farm or at their produce stand. Katy starts out the series in a relationship with both of the stereotypical hockey players Reilly (Dylan Payfair) and Jonesy (Andrew Herr), who split their time between the rink and the gym. The strung-out "skids" are led by Stewart (Tyler Johnston) and his sycophantic sidekick Roald (Evan Stern). That crew is usually dealing drugs out of their basement or under the influence of said drugs outside the dollar store. Most episodes see separate storylines for each group, but when they do interact and cross over, it's to a delightfully hilarious effect. As the seasons have progressed, recurring characters have been promoted to the main cast like preacher Glen (series director Jacob Tierney), bar owner Gail (Lisa Codrington), and First Nations reservation ringleader Tanis (Tiio Horn).
I'm not going to lie: there's dialog in Letterkenny that may occasionally make you cringe. Wayne is a small town hick who will call something "fruity-loops," and the hockey room banter can veer into "locker room talk." However, the language is never gratuitous or out of character, and there is a line drawn between chirping at each other and genuinely hateful discourse, which is called out when it happens. And often the show is outright progressive. When Hard Right Jay (Jay Baruchel) attempts to drum up opposition to a mascot change, the local consensus is that the change is probably for the best, and the alt-right is driven out of town. Squirrely Dan is often sharing wisdom from his women's studies group with Professor Tricia. While a character's sexuality is occasionally played for laughs, there are also great queer moments on the show. Gay bros Dax and Ron serve as the perfect gym-based foils for Reilly and Jonesy. Katy vies for the affection of Bonnie McMurray with as much enthusiasm as her big brother's friends. (And if you've already watched the show, we know exactly how you just read "Bonnie McMurray" in your head.)
Absolutely! Above all else, it's hilarious. Its writing stands undefeated at the Canadian Screen Awards, besting other contemporary Canadian favo(u)rites like Trailer Park Boys and Schitt's Creek. Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney's wordplay is often extraordinary, with runs of puns and musing over brilliant thought experiments dominating cold opens and entire episodes. Dedication to the series is rewarded with jokes in season six referencing lines from its first episodes. To be fair, Letterkenny is meme-able, quotable, and will have you starting a chorus in public every time you hear the three magic words at the start of this sentence. If you're uncertain Letterkenny's brand of humor is up your alley, this cold open is often considered a barometer to see the show's sensibilities are for you (NSFW dialog).
As much as the show may seem to be just a joke delivery machine, its characters and groups have stories that meaningfully progress over the seasons. You'll come to care about the hicks' love lives, the skids' sobriety, and the hockey players' successes. The show has a huge heart grounded in a shared love and respect for their community above everything else. Differences fall away when the hockey players need protecting, the skids need rescuing, or the hicks are throwing a party down on the farm.
All seven seasons of Letterkenny are now available for streaming on Hulu, so grab yourself a puppers and take it in!
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Chris Billig is the social media manager for Primetimer. He is also the voice behind LGBTSoccer on social media and you can follow his personal TV ramblings on Twitter @chrisjbillig.
TOPICS: Letterkenny, Crave, Hulu, Jared Keeso, Jay Baruchel, Michelle Mylett, Nathan Dales