When you think about a Canadian sitcom set in a small rural town with a surprisingly welcoming attitude towards its queer citizens, your mind might automatically zero in on a certain Emmy-winning juggernaut. While true, you’d be overlooking Letterkenny, which I consider a far more accepting and outrageous haven for so many queer characters across the spectrum that I left out one or two when I had the pleasure of speaking with Jacob Tierney. Onscreen, you know him as the living, breathing embodiment of what I like to call “poorly closeted gay panic”, Pastor Glen, but his contributions to the show run deep, having co-developed the series, directed every episode, as well as serving as a writer and executive producer.
For the uninitiated, the show started out as a popular 2013 web series called Letterkenny Problems, which mainly featured its star and co-creator Jared Keeso as Wayne, the living embodiment of a Tom Of Finland drawing, and his friends Daryl (Nathan Dales) and Squirrelly Dan (K. Trevor Wilson). The webisodes showed them speaking to camera with densely-packed observations about their rural lives. Their popularity led to a series deal with Crave TV in Canada, who began airing full episodes starting in 2016, with Hulu more recently airing it in the U.S. The three men represent some of the Hicks in a town of 5000 also populated by Hockey players and Skids, the Goth misfits who spend their time on video games, tech music and meth. With overripe, lingo-filled dialogue that gives A Clockwork Orange a run for its money, this hilarious show mesmerizes with its deadpan tone and repetitive vocal gymnastics. The show finds comedy gold in the problems of its diverse townsfolk. I’ll confess to needing subtitles and having Google handy to get me through the first several seasons, but eventually I could shout “That’s a Texas sized 10-4”, “To be fair”, or use terms like “ferda” and “pert near” with the best of them. Typically, a show like this would teeter in a more conservative, redneck, homophobic direction, but Letterkenny has proven decidedly otherwise.
It features such queer characters as:
Katy (Michelle Mylett), Wayne’s pansexual sister
Roald (Evan Stern), a gay Skid who clearly loves the leader of the gang, Stewart
Ron (James Daly) and Dax (Gregory Waters), a gay couple who own their sexuality and never hesitate to graphically express their every want and need
Gail (Lisa Codrington), a local bartender who is not only always horny, but would have sex with air if it were humanly possible
The McMurrays (Dan Petronijevic and Melanie Scrofano), a hard-drinking, voracious pair of swingers
I’m sure I’ve left out a couple in a large cast who by and large stamp out homophobia and stupidity in equal measure. I used to hate going into comedy clubs, because I knew some doofus would start spewing antigay jokes on cue. My love of this series emanates from the feeling of entering a traditionally straight space and feeling not only welcomed, but celebrated.
Openly queer himself, Jacob Tierney, spoke with me via Zoom upon the launch of the show’s ninth season to discuss the various characters and how so many ended up being queer. While the series’ cast list may still be missing a letter or two on the LGBTQIA+ scale, this surprisingly cinematic, sneakily emotional, deliciously dirty and smart series deserves the attention and glory of its more famous Canadian cousin. So as Wayne would say, “Pitter patter, let’s get at’er!” Just “Figure it out” and watch this one-of-a-kind gem!
Watch the video interview below.
By Glenn Gaylord, Senior Film Critic
Stream all nine seasons of Letterkenny on Hulu.