It is no secret that Europe does not receive a great many exports from Canadian television and media, particularly in comparison to the United States. Trailer Park Boys, however, seems to be the most significant exception to this rule, airing in numerous countries across Europe to great popularity.
In spite of Trailer Park Boys’ international success, I have found that some Canadians seem to maintain a great deal of animosity toward the show and its accompanying films. With this being said, I would instead argue that the show is integral to the proliferation of internationally recognised Canadian productions.
The most common complaint toward the show, among Canadians I have discussed it with, is that they view it as low-brow entertainment that misrepresents the Canadian people in the international market. However, the show is ultimately a deliberate parody of trailer park life in Nova Scotia, which indicates to viewers (whether European or not) that it is not a direct representation of any form of Canadian lifestyle. By comparison, Mrs. Brown’s Boys is currently the most popular Irish TV show in North America, but that does not mean people expect me to dress as an old woman and tell dirty jokes!
Instead, I believe that the key to the show’s success in Europe lies not with perceived representations of Canadians and their apparent stereotypes, but its comic charm and devotion to a diverse cast of characters.
There is Julian, the schemer who is never seen onscreen without a glass rum and coke on the rocks in hand, along with his best friend Ricky, whose street smarts hilariously contrast with his infamously poor vocabulary and illiteracy. Then, of course, there is Bubbles, whose thick glasses, love of cats, and role as the moral centre of the show make him a fan-favourite. There must also be an honourable mention for the alcoholic trailer park supervisor Jim Lahey, whose performance by John Dunsworth deserves an Emmy for best drunken performance by a sober actor, he’s so entertainingly convincing! Throughout its run, the show has taken the best comic aspects of its characters, such as the above, and developed them in ways that has kept the show fresh, all the while retaining the very qualities that make it work in the first place.
One of the most important aspects of Trailer Park Boys, I think, is that it is widely recognised as a solely Canadian production. This manner of identity is very important for the Canadian television industry both home and abroad, particularly considering the current saturation of American television in Europe, and indeed the greater globe. Trailer Park Boys is a strong comedy that garners greater merit than its premise would initially suggest, and I firmly believe that the Canadian people should embrace the show with a sense pride.