Trailer Park Boys has turned itself into a cottage industry. Growing organically (pardon the pun) from a short film by Nova Scotia filmmaker Mike Clattenburg, the Boys had their own Showcase TV series from 2000-2007, with seven short seasons in which they explored life as pot dealers and small-time criminals in a Nova Scotia trailer park. Main characters Ricky (Robb Wells), Julian (JP Tremblay), Bubbles (Mike Smith) and their relationships with their families were always front-and-centre in the series, along with their nemesis (and the show’s secret weapon), Park Supervisor Jim Lahey (John Dunsworth). There was an ill-conceived standalone film, produced by Ivan Reitman in 2006 and two more successful films followed, tied into the series’ continuity, ending with Don’t Legalize It in 2014. By that time, Clattenburg had moved on and the actors were keeping the show’s legacy alive with numerous “live appearances” in bars across Canada, the US and Europe, many of which have now been filmed for Netflix comedy specials such as Trailer Park Boys Live In Dublin. Netflix bought the show outright in 2014, and all of the original cast returned (without Clattenburg) for season 8, followed by season 9 and, just released this week, season 10.
There’s now so much Trailer Park Boys product out there that the show has become embedded in its small corner of popular culture as much as any other group of characters. The three lead actors even voiced characters on Archer in that show’s third season. They’ve been playing these characters, Rick, Bubbles and Julian, for over fifteen years at this point, and the only real question regarding season 10 is how many new ideas the show has to offer.
The answer is, of course, not that many, but like watching a band you love play its hits one more time, there’s something about the familiarity of the show’s patterns that still works. Season 10 is a solid season of Trailer Park Boys, no more and no less. Everything happens essentially as a longtime viewer would expect: Ricky is a dolt, but committed to his family (in his own way), Julian is a schemer determined to get rich quick and Bubbles is the show’s moral centre, who really just wants to hang out with his friends and get baked. Jim Lahey, although he doesn’t exactly start the season sober, as in other seasons, definitely follows his usual trajectory deep into a liquor bottle by the final episode. (This season, Lahey’s antics are extreme even for him, reaching Apocalypse Now levels of delusion and intoxication.)
The scheme this season, which the boys call “Freedom 45” (back in season two, they called it “Freedom 35”), is to open a casino and nightclub on the land they now own outright in the trailer park. Unlike many casinos, this one will provide free drinks AND free weed, supplied from Lucy and Sarah’s trailer, now converted into a medicinal dispensary called, with their usual subtlety, “Drugs Store”. Their man obstacle is Barb Lahey, recently released from prison, where she fell in with a hard-core group of Lesbian prison gangsters and is now contesting the boys’ purchase of the park in court. (One of her points is that when Jim Lahey signed the agreement, he was at least five sheets to the wind, and barely competent to write his own name, let alone comprehend the deal. This isn’t wrong.) Ricky also faces a personal challenge, as Lucy has demanded that he give up any crime in his life if he wants to be part of their growing family (Ricky and Lucy are now grandparents and worried about organizing the wedding of their daughter Trinity to local boy Jacob Collins.)
As the plot twists and turns, we get the season’s most obvious claim to notoriety: the arrival of an avalanche of celebrities, including an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, which captures the style of their live performances, and the arrival at the park of a dope-smoking entourage headed by none other than Snoop Dogg himself, with comedians Doug Benson and Tom Arnold in tow. Although Snoop fits in perfectly with the rest of the characters and seems to blend effortlessly into the world of Trailer Park Boys, Arnold is the most daring choice, playing a slightly twisted version of himself as a “superfan” who loves everything about the show and wants to see it all for himself. Ricky in particular sniffs something strange in Arnold and his instincts are correct: Arnold is playing the self-congratulatory “hipster”, who loves to slum it and wallow in the muck with people like the boys while at the same time laughing at them and turning a blind eye to the very real poverty and struggle they experience. Those who are truly poor know that there is very little romance in it, and while one could read the entire Trailer Park Boys phenomenon as one long exercise in hipster slumming, Arnold’s character at least points out that the show’s creators are aware of this. Frankly, the boys have come so far now in their characterizations that it’s essentially a cartoon series, right down to the heavy makeup all the actors seems to be constantly wearing. This might partially be to cover the noticeable ageing of some cast members, but in fact it all adds to the surreal nature of the show, and how far removed from reality their universe is. It isn’t as if Arnold steals the show in every appearance, but having a character like him to pierce the veil of its satire is as close to a new idea as the boys have in season 10.
Any fan of Trailer Park Boys will be more than satisfied with season 10, and if the creators are coasting a bit, creatively and stick close to formula, they sure make it easy to enjoy.