[S3E6] Where In The Fuck Is Randy's Barbeque
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Miller, Lahey and Randy confront Julian and ask about Ricky's whereabouts; Julian gives away nothing. Miller doesn't buy it and orders Julian into the car to begin searching for Ricky. Ricky is chucking the barbeques into the lake with the rest of the crew; they are discovered (all but Bubbles, who held his breath and stayed underwater) and detained by Miller.
Though little-known in the United States, Trailer Park Boys is one of the most popular programs in the history of Canadian television. Over seven seasons and two feature films, (1) the show has offered a mockumentary window into the lives of a group of petty criminals in a Nova Scotia trailer park. As one series character explains, the program is "kinda like COPS, but from a criminal's point of view" ("Fuck Community College, Let's Get Drunk and Eat Chicken Fingers," Season 1: Episode 2). But where COPS and similar reality shows hide their schadenfreude ethos behind a pose of verite objectivity, Trailer Park Boys clearly plays the absurd criminal schemes and quotidian adventures of Sunnyvale Trailer Park's loser heroes--Julian, Ricky, and Bubbles--for laughs. They subsist on a diet of cheap booze, pepperoni and chicken fingers and speak in a vernacular that is equal parts malapropism ("cubic zarcarbian," "supply and command," "get two birds stoned at once") and obscenity (in one episode, the word "fuck" is spoken 91 times), but while some critics of Trailer Park Boys deride the show for "laughing at the poor," its out-sized characters are drawn with remarkable affection. "The idea isn't to make trailer parks look bad or have fun at their expense," series creator and director, Mike Clattenberg claims. "It's about the people on the show playing the cards they're dealt." (2)
Perhaps the best example of striking a balance between profane and ennobling humor is a scene from "A Man's Gotta Eat" (4:2), where Randy bathes in a makeshift outdoor shower he has constructed from a garden hose, shredded plastic bags, and the remnants of an old lawn chair. Thrown out of their trailer by Ricky, who has risen to the rank of Trailer Park Supervisor, Randy and Jim Lahey are forced to live in their own car and plot their revenge. In the meantime, they adapt to circumstance: Lahey fries bacon and eggs on the engine block, and Randy makes his morning ablution. When Ricky arrives to take the car from them (as it technically belongs to whomever holds the title of park supervisor), he spots Randy showering and protests: "Randy, I can see you through all those goddamn liquor bags and lawn chair strapping, fucksakes!" To which Randy responds simply, "Well, stop friggin' looking, Rick!" Ricky is so disgusted by the scene that all he can do is drive away, taking Randy and Lahey's breakfast, half of their belongings, and the cord holding up Randy's ersatz shower with him, leaving Randy and Lahey completely exposed. Conspicuously absent from this hilarious scene is any malicious laughter. Though Ricky literally strips them of their dignity and privacy, he takes little pleasure in doing so. Despite the deep well of hatred between the three men, and Lahey's oft-sworn pledge to kill Ricky, their battles are, for them, tragic and of great consequence.
In an elaborate sequence from the series' second episode, "Fuck Community College, Let's Get Drunk and Eat Chicken Fingers," Ricky acclimates himself to his new home--the derelict car in Julian's side yard--by tricking it out with domestic comforts: Julian's stolen toaster oven on the roof, a dish rack on the trunk, various cutlery spread out on the hood, and a garden hose lashed to the window pillar with lengths of duct tape, in lieu of indoor plumbing. Over time, the collection will grow to include a television, a hot plate, a microwave oven, a clothesline, a lazy Susan, an elaborate pantry and--after he gets the car running again--a hockey stick to "clear all that shit off" when he needs to go somewhere. Swelling with home pride, he invites Ray and Julian over for a meal, but while the promise of free booze and blues music blasting from the car stereo is enough to entice Ray to roll by in his stolen wheelchair, Julian will have none of it. At the first whiff of chicken fingers, he storms out of his trailer, tosses the contents of the toaster oven on the ground, serves Ricky a hand-written eviction notice and threatens to leave the park and enroll in community college to become "an electrician, a meat cutter, or a television and radio broadcaster." As Julian huffs off, Ricky turns to the camera and launches into a monologue about Julian's ingratitude and lack of perspective. Gesturing toward Julian's trailer, which Ricky describes as a "fuckin' palace," Ricky notes that he is happy simply to live in a car, where he is provided with "everything I need."
One could, of course, find a valuable class commentary at the center of Trailer Park Boys, where the damned state of these characters affects something between marginalization and rebellion. In his essay, "From Back Bacon to Chicken Fingers: Recontextualizing the 'Hoser' Archetype," Ryan Diduck highlights the program's "counter-commodity culture." (5) Sunnyvale residents aspire, but merely to better trailers and more liberty to hang out and get drunk with friends. They trade, but only in illegal goods: hydroponic marijuana, pirated rap CDs, amateur porn, bootleg vodka, and stolen groceries, barbeque grills, Christmas trees, cable television, and propane. For Diduck, they are outlaws of capitalism, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of corporate culture. Perhaps the most glaring statement of the show's critique of this culture is the fact that all brand names--be they cola logos on cans, raised white letters on tires, or insignias on t-shirts--all branding is blurred out in post-production. This commentary is less the biting Marxist wit of a Bunuel or Godard film than the feckless tag of a drunken graffiti artist--a smudge on the ordinary barely noticed by any but intimates of the program--but, by denying the hegemony of the brand, the objects per se are restored to their original position of primacy. Almost invisibly, they are transformed from emblems of consumer culture into precisely what they always were: the detritus of modern life, the trash and the soon-to-be trash. In place of the rows of General Mills cereals on Jerry Seinfeld's kitchen shelf and the carefully-posed hand of Elaine holding (albeit with winking acknowledgment) a pristine bottle of Snapple with its logo turned to the camera, Trailer Park Boys gives us a shredded bag of salt and vinegar potato chips and a soda can stuffed with cigarette butts. 781b155fdc