Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Trailer Park Boys Dublin Pilgrimage

One of my more recently-discovered yet all-time favorite television shows is Trailer Park Boys. This Canadian mockumentary style comedy follows Ricky, Julian, Bubbles, and the rest of the mostly drunk and degenerate residents of fictional Sunnyvale Trailer Park in real-life Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

For my money, the show deserves every bit of international cult attention it has received since going off the Canadian airwaves in 2008. The cult status owes much of its success to the inclusion of the show on Netflix, accessible to Americans and the non-Canadian English-speaking world.

Even though I'm not a drug user, the misadventures of these drunk, impoverished dopeheads is grippingly hilarious, but the real charm of the show is in its character development. The characters are well-developed and quite sympathetic- the audience (speaking at least for myself) wants these petty, uneducated criminals to succeed in every one of their ill-conceived schemes. This sympathy makes the show even more funny when they inevitably fail, get caught, and go to jail.

No three camera, laugh track comedy (like the annoying Big Bang Theory) has comedic characters this well-developed. The slow pacing and bump-set-spike-repeat rhythm of the I Love Lucy inspired comedies like this doesn't really allow characters to become anything more than racist/sexist/whateverist tropes and really wears on me. The story of Trailer Park Boys is told through the eyes of a documentary camera crew, much like my preferred NBC comedies The Office and Parks and Recreation. This style allows the dialogue to flow more quickly and spontaneously, revealing more about the characters. The action can also take place in larger sets and spaces, as the show doesn't have to rely on the antiquated, live theater-like limitations of the three camera sets. How many locations do we ever see in Seinfeld? Four, all indoors and much too well-lit to be believable. 

I must also comment on the progressive decision of the show to be vulgar, rude, and violent without being racist, homophobic, or bigoted. The show includes a gay couple, who are the villain trailer park supervisors trying to foil the boys' plans. The boys routinely call them every rude name in the book and some new, improvised ones, but never are they insulted with gay slurs. The writers made the same choice when dealing with characters of other races, when a person of color gets in the way of the schemes, the colorful language used to describe them is everything but racist. It is improbable that a group of uneducated white drug dealers in real life would be so progressive and sensitive, but I commend the writers and producers of the show and their decision.

The actors who play the three main characters recently acquired the rights to Trailer Park Boys for film and television, and the series is being rebooted by Netflix, much as they did with Arrested Development. In addition to the two new seasons of the show, the boys have also starred in a new TPB movie (Don't Legalize it) and a feature-length live performance.

...Which brings us to the topic at hand (finally...) the special is called Trailer Park Boys Live in F**kin' Dublin and was filmed as a live theater show in Dublin's fair city. When I fired up the special on Netflix last week, I saw the opening shot of Dublin's Olympia Theatre, and said "I know where that is! Trailer Park Boys did a show there? I have to pay my respects!"

Olympia Theatre Dublin, Ireland site of Trailer Park Boys Live in F**ckin' Dublin
The Hallowed Trailer Park Boys Hall

Ok, so it wasn't far out of my way. The theater itself is right in City Centre, but seeing that live show gave me a reason to stand outside and take a photo. I'm sure this historic theater has been host to countless other famous and talented performers in its long history in Dublin, but I was just happy to get a peek at the hallowed halls forever immortalized by Ricky, Julian, Bubbles, and Randy of Sunnyvale. Keep rockin', boys!

If You so Desire...

If you want a peek at Trailer Park Boys, I would recommend firing up Netflix and cueing up the season 2 episode A Dope Trailer is no Place for a Kitty. In my opinion, a great introduction to the motivations of the characters and a really sweet look at some of their vulnerabilities and insecurities. 

It should go without saying, but be aware that the show is full of drugs, alcohol, guns, and creative language. If you have delicate sensibilities... I dunno... Go watch Sesame Street or the new crowdfunded series of Reading Rainbow

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