Immersing Ourselves in Television: The Trailer Park Boys Universe

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Written By: Adam Kalogeros

Sunnyvale Trailer Park is located in Nova Scotia, Canada and is home to none other than Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles. Now you may be asking yourself, “Who are the Ricky, Julian and Bubbles?” Well, my response to you is….FRIG OFF they’re the Trailer Park Boys!

The Netflix original “Trailer Park Boys” has run for 11 seasons and has created an unprecedented fan base that creator Mike Clattenburg never expected it to have. The show features a handful of goofy, low-class, and wildly inappropriate characters that fans have grown to love. When I first started watching “Trailer Park Boys” I did not understand all of the praise that my friends gave the show, but after sticking through the first few seasons I began to develop personal feelings (or rather relationships) with each c79e74fbb949f85549d34f4ea81175cfb8a77e9daa7c70ad8a02c38ab574d89acharacter on the show. Julian is the ringleader who comes up with get rich quick schemes and can always be seen drinking a glass of rum and coke out in the open. Ricky is a barely educated hothead who comes up with phrases that fans call, “Rickyisms”,  and include those such as, “It’s Time to Put Turnips in Heat,” opposed to, “It’s Time to Turn Up the Heat.”  And who could forget Bubbles, the most intelligent, awkward, giant goggle wearing kitty lover you will ever meet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfq3c4Cf1Fs).

As someone who has seen every season of “Trailer Park Boys” I have been able watch these characters progress and grow in a multitude of ways, while at the same time feeling as if I was there with them. The show is filmed in a mockumentary style and features the characters talking directly into the camera more frequently than not. An article titled, “Wild Bodies and True Lies: Carnival, Spectacle, and the Curious Case of Trailer Park Boys” (found at cjc-online.ca), writer Patricia Hughes-Fuller states:

“The boundaries of reality television are remarkably fluid and arguably, as a ‘mockumentary,’ Trailer Park Boys can be positioned somewhere along the ever-expanding continuum between reality television and other genres.”

It is Julian’s idea to start documenting his life and is the first to introduce the cameramen to Ricky, Bubbles, the other residents of Sunnyvale, and the viewers. He can often be heard telling his friends to act as if they are not being filmed and to just act natural. Most of the characters are fine with this, and just ignore the people filming them; however, characters like Ricky often attack and berate the cameraman for filming him.  

While this mockumentary style may seem sort of strange to some people (mainly critics of the show), I believe that it actually serves a very practical purpose. By filming the show in the first person point of view it makes the viewer feel like they are recording everything themselves. I often feel (especially when watching earlier seasons) as though the hands that appear near the bottom of the screen are my own, and that the amateur camera movements are by my own hand as well. Also, as the seasons progress we see the types of cameras, as well as the skill level of those operating them gradually improve. Now this is obviously due to the show’s budget getting an increase each season, but it follows the same format of how an actual filmmaker would advance in the field, and in turn ends up giving the show a sense of realism.

To go along with the progression of film style, the viewer also gets to progress with and learn about the characters through the seasons. The best example of this comes from one 3706291of the shows most popular secondary characters named J-Roc. J-Roc is a white rapper who believes he is the coolest thing since sliced bread, along with fully believing that his skin tone is much darker than it truly is. When the viewer first meets J-Roc the most common word that came out of his mouth is, “Mother Fucker.” As the seasons progress the word, “Mother Fucker,” slowly begins to change with J-Roc’s character. The phrase goes through many different stages, all of which were adopted by the viewers. “Mother Fucker,” quickly became, “MuthaFucka,” then turning into, “MaaaFukaa,” before finally becoming, “Mafk.”

Now you may be asking yourself, “Who would say that?” Well the answer is LITERALLY everybody who watches the show, with myself and my friends included. When I moved into school this year nobody in my dorm had heard of that word before, and now they all say it on a regular basis (thanks to yours truly). The J-Roc character, along with all of the other characters, are so real to the viewers that when someone asks where the word, “Mafk,” originated we act as if our friend J-Roc taught it to us (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uYlRTwHc0k).

To make “Trailer Park Boys” seem even more realistic the show features real life celebrities playing themselves. My favorite example of this comes from Season 10 Episode 7 titled, “Up in Smoke,” where Snoop Dogg, Tom Arnold, and several other celebrities visit Sunnyvale Trailer Park in order to buy weed from Ricky and to vacation in the park for awhile. The coolest part of the episode is that all of the celebrities act as if they have watched “Trailer Park Boys” on television and are huge fans of them. Tom Arnold acts like he is meeting his heroes and even has a bucket list of Trailer Park Boys related activities including: salvaging shopping carts with Bubbles, pissing Ricky off, and banging Ricky’s on-and-off (not to mention cheating) girlfriend Lucy. This type of real-life to television crossover is continued further into Season 11 when Snoop Dogg tries to bring one of Ricky’s weed-based drinks into the California market.

Aside from bringing in real life celebrities to appear on “Trailer Park Boys” the actors who play Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles appear as themselves in real life. The show has created a multitude of spin off series and movies with the most popular being “Swearnet.” “Swearnet” is a movie starring Robb Wells (Ricky), John Paul Tremblay (Julian), and Mike Smith (Bubbles) as themselves after giving up Trailer Park Boys for good. The three end up starting a completely uncensored website with various content including explicit weather shows and inappropriate sports reports; however, it was such Snoop_Dogg_Trailer_Park_Boys-1024x863a success that an actual website (and their now production company) was launched in response. The end of the film also saw Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, and Mike Smith meet with themselves (yes I know it’s weird) in the forms of Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles. The short scene features the Trailer Park Boys getting an offer to renew the show on the Swearnet Network for several more seasons, which takes us up to the current season of the show. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m97HE5U91VM). I personally found this concept to be very smart because the Trailer park Boys have ultimately grown into their own brand, and are blurring the lines between television and reality in a way that has not been done before.

I may be biased, I may be stupid, or I may just be entertained far (and I really mean FAR) too easily, but in my opinion, through several seasons, movies, webisodes, spin-off series, and the Swearnet website/production company, the Trailer Park Boys have created their own universe where the poor, uneducated, criminals of Sunnyvale Trailer Park are on top of the food chain.  

       

   

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One thought on “Immersing Ourselves in Television: The Trailer Park Boys Universe

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with the notion of Trailer Park Boys’ popularity and dominance over the televised industry. It serves as a commentary on our reality television culture as they make an ironic stance on spectacle and the use of embarrassment. This is clearly identifiable within the article that you cited by Fuller. She comments that the use of spectacle and the carnivalesque nature of the show serves to be a social commentary on how we, as television viewers, interact with our most popular content. As critics ridicule and berate the show, they are only feeding more into the notion that these grotesque caricatures further reflect contemporary culture.

    Ian McNeice

    Like

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