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The Varsity

The University of Toronto's
Student Newspaper Since 1880

White trash goes big-time

By Colleen Burke
Published: 10:00 am, 17 March 2003
Modified: 5 pm, 11 January 2012
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UPDATED

TORONTO (CUP)—“When you strip away all the guns and the swearin’ and dope and everything away from the show, basically all that’s left is love and family,” says Robb Wells, who plays Ricky on Trailer Park Boys.

Sure, the show is about dysfunctional families, but it’s definitely created with a lot of love. The end result, however, is pure comic genius.

Trailer Park Boys takes place in Sunnyvale Trailer Park and is a mockumentary chronicling the lives of endearing white trash Ricky and Julian (John Paul Tremblay). The pair spend their days drinking, smoking weed and trying to outsmart their arch-nemesis, Mr. Lahey (John Dunsworth) and his shirtless assistant Randy (Patrick Roach). Julian is the level-headed, rum-and-coke-guzzling brains of the operation, while Ricky is the dope-growing family man with self-confidence issues.

But Tremblay doesn’t really have rum and coke in his glass. “I’d be in detox if that was the case because I probably drink 25 cans of pop a day shooting,” he says.

Trailer Park Boys was born out of One Last Shot, a self-financed short film written by Tremblay, Wells and another high school friend, Mike Clattenburg, who directed and shot the film.

One Last Shot was shown at the Atlantic Film Festival, where Clattenburg won for best cinematography. The film was received so warmly the three friends decided to expand the film into the mockumentary format.

According to Clattenburg, “the look of the show is cheap by design, the production value is very low.”

The effect is a show that emulates real TV programs, like Cops. He says “more people than should” think Trailer Park Boys is real.

“It’s kind of scary. They equate the video look with real TV. So you see how some friends and a handi-cam would use that to our advantage.”

The residents of the trailer park are generally supportive of the show. Clattenburg says they routinely fill in as extras and volunteer their assistance any way they can, even loaning turkey—“to throw through police windshields.”

Wells explains that people seem to understand “we’re not making fun of them. It’s just a mockumentary that happens to take place in the trailer park.”

Wells, Clattenburg and Tremblay feel the show’s success has a lot to do with the fact that everyone can relate to the characters. “It’s very character-driven,” says Wells. “Lots of people know people like Ricky or Julian or Bubbles and the other characters on the show.”

The upcoming season will be the show’s third and Clattenburg, Wells and Tremblay are already working on writing season four. The group hopes to make a feature film sometime soon and say there is now U.S. interest in the show.

The three believe the show has been such a success because the fun they have making it comes through in the final product. “I’m working with a couple of guys I grew up with and guys that I hang around with every day. We spend the entire summer laughing, which to me is the perfect job,” says Tremblay.

There are, however, a few downsides to the show. Wells says, “People think I’m a major dope head and not the brightest cat in the real world, but I guess it all goes with the territory.”

What can you expect from next season’s first episode, airing on Showcase April 20?

“A lawyer comes into the trailer park and Ricky says to Sara, ‘Who in the fuck is that?’ And Sara says, ‘He’s a lawyer.’ And Ricky says, ‘I’m a fuck-offer.’ I’m a fuck-offer,” laughs Clattenburg. “We’re getting that on fucking TV. It’s great.”