"Listen, Ricky, you're only at school for one reason, and that's to sell drugs."
A black comedy mockumentary set in a trailer park called Sunnyvale in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (outside Halifax).The show revolves around Julian, Ricky and Bubbles, two career criminals and their orphaned childhood friend, respectively, and their misadventures as they pursue various get-rich-quick schemes besides growing and selling weed. Once in a while they branch out into legitimate business, usually for misguided reasons or with illegal methods.The three are constantly at odds with the drunken trailer park supervisor (but not owner) Mr. Lahey and his sidekick Randy. Mr. Lahey, an ex-cop, is determined to send the boys back to jail permanently and thereby regain his lost standing, while balancing his alcoholism and the destruction of his personal life. Also residing in Sunnyvale is Lucy, Ricky's on-again-off-again girlfriend and mother to his daughter Trinity; Cory and Trevor, roommates used as lackeys and scapegoats by the boys; Ray, Ricky's father and a fake paraplegic; and J-Roc and T, two would-be rappers.The show is considered to be a classic of Canadian culture, and the fact that the show received funding from the Canadian government is testament to its following, as is the fact that the likenesses of the Boys can be seen in bars and public attractions across the country.An eighth season has been announced, and a third movie Don't Legalize It was released.
This show provides examples of:
Aesop Amnesia: Ricky would have this constantly if Julian and Bubbles didn't keep reminding him of their past disasters. Done comically in Life from Fuckin' Dublin. On the way to Dublin, the customs agent lets them through without pressing them (even giving Julian an excuse for taking booze through customs by pointing out that he's carrying a fake mixed drink to stay in character), then offhandedly asks as a joke if Ricky has any drugs. Ricky immediately admits he does, under the impression that "anything you take with you on a private jet is your private property". This puts them in a lot of hot water and ruins Bubbles' chance to see Rush live, which was the whole point of going there. After they get back home, they go through Canadian customs, and this time, they get through with no problems... until, at the very last second, the agent, even more jokingly than the agent in Dublin, asks Ricky if he has any drugs, and again Ricky openly admits it, again citing a law he made up in his head (this time, it's "we didn't bring back any more than we left with, so they cancel out").
The Season Three opener has Ricky blowing his whole wad that they spent the previous season scamming (and going to jail for) in the space of the first day out of prison. Julian's doesn't last much longer.
At the end of one of the seasons, Cory and Trevor steal all of the money off of a huge drug deal. In the first episode of the next season, they are tricked into signing it all away.
The Alleged Car: The "Shitmobile" (1975 Chrysler New Yorker 4 door hardtop... well, 3 door hardtop now). The driver's side front door doesn't open, the passenger side front door is missing entirely, and it requires a specific method of key turning to start it. It breaks down periodically, but is also shown to be nigh indestructible. The boys have knocked down parking meters and even walls with it, and still been able to drive away.
Most of the cars in the show start out in good condition, but usually end up this way by the end of the season. Mr. Lahey's car ended up providing parts for the Shitmobile at the end of one season. In a later season, Randy steps out of the trailer to see Lahey passed out drunk in the front seat with the roof of the car completely gone (and this car isn't a convertible). Despite this, none of the characters have any problems driving it. Funny enough, after Lahey becomes a cop again, his cop car also loses its roof.
In an AMA on Reddit, the boys acknowledged the car did give them actual problems (the brakeline once broke while shooting it driving down an actual street), but still runs to this day.
Though it's implied he'll eventually kill himself with the liquor. After he falls into the pool, it shows how he has no control over himself anymore and nearly drowns. He`s got nobody to care for him anymore because he nearly killed everyone he knows, everyone wants him dead and there`s no way he can show his face in public again. The boys are getting out of jail in 2 weeks, Bubbles has a girlfriend and every loose end is tied up. The bad guy does not win: he becomes a pariah and the "protagonists" are going to be okay.
But the protagonists are bad guys themselves. The fact that they only get two weeks of prison for robbing a bank (and get the girl) could be interpreted as the bad guys winning.
Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys ends with Lahey successfully getting his rivals thrown in prison on what are, by the standards of the show, technicalities.
Bilingual Bonus: In one episode, "Zesty Mordant". "Mordant" is "zesty" in Quebec French, and is drawn in the episode from snack food.
In Canada, a variety of Doritos are called the "Zesty Cheese" flavour, and due to Canadian labeling laws, the label has to also show the French version, so the label is fun to read as Zesty Mordant◊.
Blind Without 'Em: Bubbles. And what's worse, they found the prop glasses they use on the street and have no way of replacing them if they ever get broken.
A recent AMA, Bubbles' actor stated his girlfriend found them in a thrift shop in Texas right before the show started and gave them to him, so the actual story of the glasses origin may be forgotten by an Unreliable Narrator (not to mention, it's probably not impossible to have a facsimilie made by an optometrist). Additionally and somewhat ironically, he WAS blind wearing them, and could only wear them 10 minutes at time in the beginning, and although now he can now wear them indefinitely, they've probably done permanent damage to his eyes.
Berserk Button: Several; Calling Ricky stupid or, in the early seasons, insulting his lack of Grade 10. He also hates being called "Reveen".
Sam Losco has a few, but mostly being called a Caveman.
Lahey-Don't insult Randy when he's around.
Julian is arguably the most level-headed person on the show, but referring to him as Patrick Swayze will just lead to a very bad day for the person who says it.
Additionally, when the Trailer Park Association President refers to him as an "alkie" he completely flips and tells Ricky (who'd he'd been trying to control) to go ahead and do whatever.
Anyone who insults or threatens Bubbles will soon face the wrath of both Julian and Ricky, especially the former.
Even though Bubbbles is usually the Only Sane Man, harming his kitties or calling him a "Googly-Eyed Bastard" makes him go nuts.
Book Ends: The seasons, and then the movies, always begin and end with scenes in the jail.
If Corey and Trevor aren't getting beaten up or wounded, Ricky is.
California Doubling: The outside of the "prison" that is sometimes seen is actually a local high school. Makes sense, if you think about it.
Canada, Eh?: Very much so. The accents, plus the love of Rush and hockey...
They also use a lot of local Halifax-area slang in the dialogue. "Con college" is apparently a Haligonian (a term used to describe a resident of Halifax) term for jail.
In The Delusions of Officer Jim Lahey, Lahey says "let's go to the LC." "LC," as most anyone from Nova Scotia can tell you, is the slang term for the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission (NSLC).
There's also the scenes at the King of Donairs pizza place and several appearances in The Movie from Propeller, a microbrew from Halifax.
"Jesus Murphey" is also used sometimes.
Canon Discontinuity: For the most part, the Pilot Movie seems to fall under this, except for part of the ending which was referenced in the beginning of the first episode. Among other things, Julian was addicted to cocaine, Randy was a different person, and Bubbles didn't seem to exist. It's also worth noting that (perhaps because Bubbles didn't exist) the Boys were more prone to... Kicking the Dog and therefore were much more monstrous and unsympathetic characters.
The Christmas Special seems to also Retcon parts of the first season, most notably Bubbles's shed (the original burnt down in season two, but this special takes place nearly three years before that and yet uses the new one).
Bubbles and Ricky were antagonistic toward each other in the first few episodes. As the show went on, this was quietly dropped and the backstory became the two (along with Julian) were always best buds since grade school. Then, you could easily chalk up the Bubble/Ricky friction as them having a spat.
Leahy's daughter seemed to fall under this after her appearances in Season 2. She's never seen or mentioned again, even after Barb moves in with him and Randy.
Cant Get Away With Nothing: Averted. The guys actually fairly effective small-time criminals, helped in no small part by Lahey's incompetence. What usually chucks them in jail is either their ambition exceeding their capabilities, or sheer bad luck.
Captain's Log: Being a mock-reality show, the characters frequently appear in "interview" segments throughout the episodes, describing the events of the episode, or their motivations to the camera crew.
Cluster F-Bomb: The majority of the cast, but especially Danny, the screaming dude who never appears on screen.
Coming-Out Story: When Ricky's car crashes into their trailer, Randy and Mr. Lahey emerge dressed as a bumblebee and Indiana Jones, respectively. Explanations soon follow.
And in season one, Julian found Randy and Lahey dressed up in similar costumes, and promised not to tell anyone (a promise he kept).
Cool Car: Julian's Monte Carlo, which he stole from Dennis and Terry. He initially balked at the obnoxious spinning rims it has and was reluctant to steal it (and be seen driving it) even though they needed to make a quick getaway, but overtime he comes to really like it, which of course is cue for something bad to happen to it.
Courtroom Antic: Any time Ricky is in a courtroom. Besides interrupting people with no regard for legal process, it's established that he simply cannot think clearly unless he can smoke and swear, enough so that a judge allows him to do both in court so he can properly make his arguments. The gets a Call Back in Live from fuckin' dublin, where he swears in a courtroom in Ireland, prompting the judge to tell him to "stop fucking swearing", but both him and the judge do so for the rest of scene, and the judge rants at Ricky about how he should have bought drugs in Ireland instead of bringing them in.
Crapsack World: A lot of the show's darkness comes from the fact that if the various characters weren't suffering from a variety of crippling emotional and personal problems, they'd all probably be a lot happier, though season two takes the cake when the boys return from prison to find the park a disaster area.
Crazy Cat Lady: Bubbles, minus the "crazy" (Conky not withstanding) and minus the "lady".
Cult Classic: While hugely popular in its native Canada, it was virtually unknown outside of it. With the show now on Netflix and YouTube, through word of mouth has developed a strong cult following in the states and elsewhere.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Ricky and Julian make money growing weed no problem, but whenever they bring violence and theft into the mix, they quickly end up in jail. Even discussed by Sara and Lucy in season one.
Daddy DNA Test: Averted. J-Roc and Tyrone both have sex with the same two women, who both get pregnant. Rather than find out who is the father of each baby and risk losing their friendship, they decide to be co-dads to both.
The Danza: Many of the supporting cast share first, last, or both names with characters they portray.
Driven to Villainy: Lahey after it's revealed in Season 6 that he didn't lose his job as a police officer because of his drinking but because Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles trashed his cop car and doused him in liquor. Also counts as Create Your Own Villain.
Even Beggars Won't Choose It: In the movie "Don't Legalize It", Ricky says that the "house" that Bubbles' parents left him in their will (actually a rusty old school bus with furniture and appliances inside) is a piece of shit. When Bubbles reminds Ricky that he lives in a car with one door missing, Ricky matter-of-factly says "I know." Of course, Ricky is probably only saying this because he doesn't want Bubbles to decide to live there for good, away from him and Julian.
Even Evil Has Standards: Julian cusses Ricky out for using children to help him steal barbecues, pointing out that he's contributing to the delinquincy of minors.
In the second movie, J-Roc is helping the boys steal their way back onto their feet, but admonishes them when he learns they stole a sign from a church.
J-Roc "Old people need their beans!"
Also in the christmas special they won't steal anything that could be a present for a kid.
Even the Guys Want Him: Julian. Male characters frequently comment on how he's "sexy", and it would make a great drinking game to take a shot everytime the line "I love you Julian" is uttered.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Bubbles. His real name is never given on the show. The nickname is derived from his love of a bubble-making machine he had as a child (not from his bulbous glasses, as is often speculated).
The prequel Christmas Special has him getting the bubble maker as an adult (his parents left it for him as a Christmas present before they abandoned him as a child and he had kept it wrapped, not wanting to open it until he is with his family again, but Ricky and Julian tell him that they are his real family and convince him to finally open it). With it is a note from his mother in which she calls him Bubbles, so maybe His Name Really Is Barkeep.
Everyone Is Bi: Canon examples, Lahey and Randy of course, and Sam Losco admitted to being with "a few dudes". Context examples, Sarah's marriage to Corey and Trevor, the "male crush" that Corey and Trevor have on Ricky and/or Julian (Trevor even at one point suggesting sucking the venom out of a snake bite on Ricky's penis, but backed down when Ricky seemed less than responsive to the idea.) and if you want to get into the Les Yay, there's always Sarah and Lucy.
Also the early episode in which Ricky wonders if he and Julian are gay. Throughout the series they remain at least 'co-dependent'.
Ricky "I'm not gay, I love Lucy... wait a minute, maybe I am gay."
Every cop on the show seems to bi, if not outright gay. At one point after Lahey becomes a cop again, George Green and Ted Johnson dump a load of paperwork on him so that they can go watch Chippendale dancers all night.
The movie The Big Dirty has Ricky say that Lucy is "one-eighth gay", and that the reason they hooked up in the first place was because they had slept with a lot of the same girls in high school (of which Sarah was one). Of course, the movie's canon is ambiguous, as it contains several inaccuracies to the show, so it might just be an example of The Movie trying to be Hotter and Sexier.
Evil Debt Collector: In a rare example of the protagonists taking on this role, the Boys were forced to do this to pay their bill after Sam Losco (who was working as a veterinarian) treated a dog Julian was taking care of that ate some of Ricky's hash brownies, and patching up one of Ricky's gunshot wounds. They had to steal a riding mower belonging to a farmer who was another one of Sam's clients and owed him a lot of money...only for Ricky to get shot in the process.
Failure Is the Only Option: The boys will never make enough money to set themselves up for life (or if they do, they spend it all immediately), and Mr. Lahey will never get rid of them permanently. The format is played with a bit in the later seasons though— in Season 6, Lahey becomes a cop again, Randy becomes trailer park supervisor and more.
In the first episode, the police mention someone is stealing luggage from the airport. In the second episode, we find out that it's J-Roc and Tyrone.
When Ray gets thrown in an American jail for trying to hire a prostitute that turned out to be an undercover cop, he writes a letter to Ricky mentioning how much cheaper cigarettes are in the US. Later in the season, when the boys are about to sell a lot of dope to Sebastian Bach, he says he couldn't get the money because his wife found out about the deal, but he can trade them for an equal value of cigarettes, which will sell in Canada for more money.
Faking the Dead: "Don't Legalize It" opens with Ray's funeral. At the end of the movie, Ricky receives a video tape in the mail from him saying that he's alive and living in Florida, having faked his death for the insurance money.
Framing the Guilty Party: When Ricky, Julian, Bubbles, Cory and Trevor are all arrested for stealing gasoline, Ricky tricks the court into thinking that Cory and Trevor were the only ones who knew the gasoline was stolen.
Gargle Blaster: Swish, a type of moonshine made by extracting the alcohol trapped in the wood of old liquor barrels, which Julian briefly becomes hooked on after he loses his trailer.
Bubbles: Swish is this old, dirty, shitty-tastin', homemade fuckin' liquor that you can... ugh, you can barely get 'er into ya, but... my fuck does it ever get ya some drunk.
Genius Ditz: Ricky, whenever confronted by police or security, unless it's at a Hospital. He's also a master at growing marijuana and turning it into hashish. One episode also demonstrates that he's got a fairly good knowledge of the law, to the point where he actually successfully argues that he needs to smoke and curse in court to properly defend himself.
He once brazenly walked into an office building and stole all their furniture while everyone was still there, telling them he was a mover and new furniture was on its way. The office workers helped him move it.
J-Roc shuts down Lahey at one point by quoting real estate law, and in later episodes discusses his drug dealing using terms straight from business school.
As the show goes on, Lahey demonstrates that he's an effective hunter and trapper, even when he's drunk out of his mind. Unfortunately, his prey happens to be Ricky.
Whether it's true or not, Lahey firmly believes that being drunk actually makes him more competent. After all, he is the liquor. When being chastised for his drinking by Randy he often makes protests like "The liquor helps me think!" or "The liquor makes it clear!"
Greaser Delinquents: Cyrus styles himself after one, even though the series takes place in the 2000s.
Grey and Grey Morality: While none of the characters are saints, the show never really gets that dark, nor are any of the characters that evil. Granted this is a world where firing guns never results in any casualties.
A case could actually be made that the show has Black and White Morality, just with the legal alignments flipped; the criminals are largely pretty nice people who got fucked by circumstances, whereas the people enforcing the laws are morally ambiguous at best and usually straight up Jerkasses.
Human Mail: Cory and Trevor are mailed to a Snoop Dogg concert...along with lots of marijuana.
Hypocritical Humor: Before Bubbles introduces Ricky to Shitty Bill, he warns Ricky not to call him "Shitty Bill". When it cuts to the next scene, Bubbles amiably calls him "Shitty" several times. Then again, Bubbles only said to not call him "Shitty Bill", which he never does.
Based on and many taken from the actor's former college roommate. Should the show ever be revived or another movie made, the writers have stated they have many they never got around to using.
"Just remember Lahey, what comes around is all around!"
Lightning Can Do Anything: Lahey had suffered a stroke sometime between "Countdown to Liqour Day" and "Don't Legalize It". For most of the movie he has to walk around with a cane and he doesn't have much range in his facial expressions. Somehow receiving a shock from a police taser cures him.
Limited Wardrobe: Most of the cast, minus the girls. Ricky wears exactly one outfit a season (track pants and a colorful shirt), Julian always wears a form fitting black muscle t-shirt and black pants, Bubbles is always in a flannel, Randy wears (nothing but) a pair of too-tight white pants, Leahey's park supervisor uniform (until he's reinstated as a cop, then he's almost never seen out of uniform).
Meaningful Name: Ricky's daughter is named "Trinity". It's implied that she might be Julian's.
Mistaken for Gay: Julian tries to convince Ricky to propose to Lucy by making up a story about how everyone in the park thinks he's gay because he's been with Lucy for so long without marrying her. Ricky being as dumb as he is, is instead convinced that he's actually gay.
Mockumentary: The style of the filming. While it does make more of an effort to keep the believability of a camera crew following these guys around in often implausable situations (cutting to security camera footage, the cast often directly address the crew or even involve them (usually Ricky), they do often get forgotten, especially season 6 (season 7 made up for it with more of an effort to remind everyone that this is supposed to be a documentary).
Never Live It Down: invokedShitty Bill, whose childhood accident gave him the nickname which has stuck to this day.
The Movie: Two of them, with a third on the way. Four if you count the pilot movie.
Bubbles is regularly underestimated because of his glasses by park outsiders.
Only One Name: Every regular on the show that's not related to Jim Lahey. Taken to the extreme that the boys are only referred to by their first names (or nickname in Bubble's case) in COURT.
When Bubbles is taken to the hospital for a tooth infection, the receptionist asks for his last name. Julian says it's "just Bubbles".
Only a Flesh Wound: Ricky is shot in the leg by Mr. Lahey at one point and he has to wait for medical attention while the cops, Mr. Lahey, Randy and Julian all argue.
Ricky seems to be written for this trope. He's been shot multiple times, once with a homemade ARROW by Lahey, and at one point he was dead for 6 minutes.
Ricky: So the fuck what if you were shot? I was DEAD you dummies. You should call a DUMBULANCE.
Ricky also survived being inside an exploding trailer once, even if he himself admitted that it was only because the full bathtub inside made him "fire retarded".
In the Countdown to Liquor Day movie, Randy is shot through the belly, but it's "only a fat wound".
Only Sane Man: Bubbles tends to be one of the smarter and more law-abiding residents of Sunnyvale. This is mentioned in "The Bible Pimp", when a Bible salesman asks if Bubbles is crazy and Ray tells him Bubbles is "The sharpest guy in the park".
Out-Gambitted: Sunnyvale is in serious debt and in danger of being sold. Ricky, Julian and Bubbles plan to buy the park for themselves with the money from their latest dope sale. They're double-crossed by Cory and Trevor, who steal the money and try to buy the park for themselves. They're outsmarted by Barbara Lahey, who tricks them into giving her the money. She then uses it to pay off Sunnyvale's debts without having to sell it.
Perpetual Poverty: Everyone. Especially Julian when his get-rich-quick schemes go bust.
Randy has almost never been seen with a shirt on. Even in the episodes that take place in winter.
Randy and Mr. Lahey's "relationship" and the odd situations they would be found in for the first few seasons.
Julian almost always has a rum and coke in his hand. When he doesn't it's because he's doing something that takes two hands, and someone else is holding it.
He even manages to not spill it while rolling a car over without a seatbelt.
Or that time he was tazed by Lahey.
Or that time he was shot by Lahey.
If Julian needs both hands to drive, it sits in full view on the dashboard.
Phil(idelphia) Colins and his gut and burps.
Randy (and Phil, in the later seasons) and Cheeseburgers
Calling Sam Losco a "Caveman" or something similar.
When Ricky says "Smokes" and someone (usually Cory and Trevor) give him their cigarettes.
At one point it even works on the opposing prosecutor in a courtroom.
Randy always taking off his pants (or trying to) before he fights Ricky.
Mr. Lahey and his shit analogies - shithawks, shitropes, etc.
Also, when talking about Julian, he will invariably always throw in "sexy" as an adjective.
He's playing sexy hardball with us, Randy.
Ricky being able to try to talk his way out of everything. Something usually happens that messes it up, but the man's talent for bullshitting is something to behold.
Ricky falling when trying to run. Also people throwing things.
Ricky getting shot.
People treating Cory and Trevor like dogs:
*Whistles* "Come here boys" *Whistles*
"Trevor! Trevor drop him!"
Whenever a fight happens, an off-screen character named Donny yelling "WHAT IN THE FUCK?"
Screwed by the Network: How the show and both movies were treated in the US. The show was picked up by BBC America, airing in a heavily censored version, and canceled after just two episodes, the first movie got dumped into regional release (in New York City and Los Angeles only) and the second movie went straight-to-DVD.
Series Fauxnale: Originally the creators wanted to end the series at season five, but after wrapping up filming for the season they decided to stick with the series a little longer. So if you didn't like the series finale or how the second movie ended, you can just pretend that "The Shit Blizzard" was the final episode.
Pushed back further now with an eighth season and third movie on the way.
Start of Darkness: An overarching theme of the series is the complete psychological and emotional collapse of Lahey.
Status Quo Is God: Things always, one way or another, go back to the way they were. Ricky and Lucy's on-again-off-again status, Lahey's alcoholism, the boys going to jail, everyone being broke, etc. If it doesn't happen at the end of the season then it happens at the beginning of the next one.
Sticky Situation: In one episode, Ricky accidentally glues a toy truck to his hand and a rag to his nose (which makes him hallucinate due to the glue fumes he's constantly breathing in). Bubbles also mentions a time when he was trying to build a model plane and accidentally glued one of the wings to his penis when he went to go have a pee.
Stock Scream: Anyone who's watched more than a couple of episodes should be familiar with the frequent off-screen cries of "WHAT IN THE FUCK?!!!"
The "WHAT IN THE FUCK!?" and "FUCK OFF WITH THE GUNS!" lines are provided by Bubbles' actor.
The screams are attributed to a single character, Donny (sometimes Danny), who is never seen on-screen.
Except that the first season does have a story arc: Julian's quest to get Ricky off his lawn and married off to Lucy.
Take That: Ricky struggled to pass Grade 10 in Canada, but was able to easily pass Grade 11 while in an American jail because the tests are so much easier down there. Ray was also able to pass Grade 9.
Title Drop: "Fuck you, you greasy trailer park boy."
The title of every episode is also a line of dialogue in the episode.
Unishment: The boys don't really consider jail to be that bad (as long as they can get access to cigarettes, booze, and dope). Ricky in particular seems to enjoy himself there, even more so at the end of Season 7 when he and Ray are sent to an American jail, which both of them consider luxurious in comparison to their own.
Bubbles seems like a Rare Male Example of the Crazy Cat Lady trope, but he's also very well-read in classical Greek philosophy. Ray correctly describes him as the "sharpest guy in the park".
Ricky's father Ray has a thorough knowledge of Calvinism, which he tries to share with the camera crew.
Jim Lahey quotes Shakespeare on more than one occasion.
Ricky is nothing short of brilliant when it comes to growing dope and conning authority figures like judges and the police. When he buckles down and really makes an effort, he can also do well at school.
Julian is an ace when it comes to handling the "business" side of drug dealing. In the earliest episodes, he was thinking about going to community college to get an education and get a legitimate job. There's no doubt he would have been very good at it, too.