I’m a fan of Trailer Park Boys. Rude? Vulgar? Sure. But it makes me laugh and while some seasons are uneven, it has some great work in obeying a rule of writing: every character is the hero of their own story. From the three mains—Julian, Ricky and Bubbles—to the minor reoccurring characters, all are clearly and richly presented.
Plus, as I spell out below, there are a number of great messages of tolerance and empowerment in the show.
More than that, TPB was my first exposure to Canadian content. We didn’t have TPB in the States while I was growing up. A television show where a character could say “cockface” while rolling a joint was something new, revolutionary, and funny. And truly Canadian.
Not that it represents Canada, but in the US network programs could show plenty of gunfire, death and bloodshed, but the word “shit” or seeing a woman’s breasts did not happen. Canada, on the other hand, recognizes that nudity, profanity and substance use happen in everyday life. Non-fatal bullet wounds… not so much.
So when I heard that the Nova Scotia government is considering cancelling the film tax credit that allows TPB and other shows and films to happen, I wrote a letter to the Liberal Minister of Finance and the Treasury Board, the Honourable Diana C. Whalen, to express my views. The letter in its entirety is below.
Dear Minister Whalen:
I am writing to urge you to not cancel the film tax credit in Nova Scotia. For a country like Canada, overshadowed by the popular culture flowing out of the United States, film is a vital way to create and share Canadian stories.
Of note, I want to discuss the show Trailer Park Boys, which was some of the first Canadian content I encountered when I moved to Canada from the U.S. in 1999. While the show is rude and vulgar, and might not be the best representation of Nova Scotia, it presents many positive messages that one does not find in popular culture produced in Hollywood.
Acceptance of homosexuality
The characters of Randy and Jim Lahey are a gay couple, but initially kept their relationship secret. When they come out as a couple, there is neither a negative reaction nor an exaggerated positive acceptance—life goes on.
Men can express their emotions
In western culture, men do not demonstrate affection, which is not healthy. Yet in Trailer Park Boys, the male characters frequently hug and tell each other they love each other without unease or embarrassment. It’s a message young men need to receive.
Strong women characters
The female characters are strong and independent. Many run their own business. They do not obsess over relationships, but aren’t afraid to express sexual desire. It is one of the most realistic portrayals of women on television.
Family is everything
Strong family ties, and fear of losing them, is a common theme. Ricky, a criminal, is driven to provide for his family. He is devoted to his daughter and seeks to reconcile with her mother. This theme is reflected in many other familial relationships.
It is actually anti-addiction
While alcohol and marijuana use is common, the characters are able to carry on in their day-to-day lives. But when use becomes abuse, there are always negative consequences. What’s more, problem gambling and cocaine have been presented in negative light.
I am not a resident of Nova Scotia and have only had the privilege to visit your beautiful province once. And I understand the challenges that balancing a budget can pose. But I hope you will re-consider cancelling the film tax credit so that shows like Trailer Park Boys, and many other shows and films produced in your province, can continue. These shows are an important alternative to the pedestrian shows one finds on network television.
Thank you for your attention.
If you feel the same, you can reach her through her website. As Bubbles said, be polite.
Or, sign the change.org petition.
More hashtags and Twitter IDs below.