TV Review: “Letterkenny”

It’s not often that I come across something that manages to be two opposing things at the same time. Enter Letterkenny, Hulu’s latest comedy import to join the streaming platform. Set in the fictional small town of Letterkenny, Ontario the show is both hilarious and boring, and unfortunately, I don’t quite get it. I can feel that the underlining tone is one to be appreciated, but I’m missing it completely.

Letterkenny was created by Jared Keso (who also stars as Wayne) and is loosely based on his home town. The Canadian program is well into its fifth season on Crave TV and is just now finding an audience here. Quirky and odd, the show has some fun moments, but is lacking something, at least for this viewer. Full disclosure, I only watched one 22-minute episode but wasn’t intrigued enough to return. Now that being said, I just didn’t relate to the characters or the story, which has nothing to do with the acting. I actually found myself laughing out loud at several moments, but I don’t know if it was the dry delivery that I found funny or the jokes themselves. The acting choices feel very deliberate and dull, in fact that might be what I enjoyed the most. It comes across clearly that these folks live a secluded life. They don’t have much exposure to the outside world and have to create their own fun and also their own problems.

The dialogue is so rapid and somewhat difficult to understand and I found myself searching the internet for answers about the characters ages, relationships to each other, and the overall premise. Wayne and his younger sister Katy (Michelle Mylett), have both graduated high school but no actual ages are mentioned though fans speculate Wayne is between 23-25 with Katy being a year or two younger. Wayne’s friends Daryl (Nathan Dales) and Dan (K. Trevor Wilson) are no more than a year younger then him. They’re all old enough to drink and we see them at a bar towards the end of the episode. From my Google research it sounds like the spend plenty of time drinking but don’t ever get drunk. And as far as what the show’s about, the answer is nothing. Basically the Canadian version of Seinfeld but in a much, much smaller setting.

There were some moments that I could appreciate, like Wayne joining Daryl in hanging out at the local college age (?) youth group, Burning Bush (as in Moses and the burning bush, and yes, most youth group names are that bad).  I recognized the setup and was surprised by the attention to detail. Daryl’s friend engages him and Wayne in conversation which quickly turns into a mini salvation discussion. She pulls out a lighter and asks Wayne to hold his finger over the flame for as long as he can. When he pulls away a second later she tells him to imagine that for the rest of eternity in hell to which Daryl responds, “that’s how they get you.” However, at the same time it was almost too generic stereotype “church.” You have the extremely conservatively dressed girls, the youth group band, the young leader who’s in a relationship with one group member, and of course the wall size tapestries and posters with all sorts of religious sayings. It felt like every church trope was thrown in and it just kinda made a mess. Maybe that’s what’s funny about it, maybe in a small town all religions share the same house of worship. I certainly wasn’t offended, but the approach felt too broad.

Letterkenny is full of adult language, awkward moments, and some crude humor that will definitely appeal to audiences who’ve shared the characters’ experiences. As for me, I give this show 2.75 out of 5 stars.

Letterkenny is currently available to stream on Hulu.