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The Untold Truth Of Letterkenny

With its rapid-fire dialogue and non-stop onslaught of witty slang expressions, there hasn't a show as quotable as Letterkenny since Seinfeld or Arrested Development. The massive Canadian sitcom is a cult hit the U.S., and that's partly thanks to Hulu, and partly because there's never been a show quite like this one.

Set in and around Letterkenny, Ontario, a rural farming community of 5,000 people, this low-key comedy show focuses on the area's different and often divergent contingents, such as the "hicks" (farmers), the "skids" (goth-punk criminals), the degens (no-good out-of-towers), and hockey players. But most plots involve those farmers — Wayne (creator Jared Keeso), the squinting, opinionated, toughest guy in town, as well as his sister Katy (Michelle Mylett), and their best friends Daryl (Nathan Dales) and Squirrely Dan (K. Trevor Wilson).

Letterkenny is a rich and dense depiction of small-town life, so pitter-patter, get yourself a Puppers, and prepare to read about the secrets behind the show. From its origins to its unique pet situation, let's figure it out as we explore the untold truth of Letterkenny.

Letterkenny started as a low-key web series

Those speedy, opening sequences to most Letterkenny episodes, in which Wayne (creator Jared Keeso) speaks directly to the camera about something that happened to him "the other daaaaaaaaay," are a holdover from the show's early format and foundation. While filming the Canadian police drama 19-2 in 2013, Keeso got a comedic sideline going. He created Letterkenny Problems, a five-part, self-produced series of shorts he uploaded to YouTube. They primarily featured Wayne and Daryl (Nathan Dales, who'd reprise his role in Letterkenny proper), and they introduced Dylan Playfair and Andrew Herr as a couple of numbskull hockey players, but they were mainly monologues about life in a tiny Ontario town. The show proved quite successful, going viral in Canada and earning a nomination in the digital media category at the Canadian Screen Awards

In 2016, the project moved to another part of the internet. Canadian streaming service Crave TV (akin to Hulu) signed Keeso to a deal to develop Letterkenny Problems into a series of half-hour episodes — its first ever original series. The expanded show became an even bigger hit, and it earned consecutive nomination for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards.

It's inspired by Listowel and junior hockey

As goofy and stratified as the town of Letterkenny may be, there's also a strong through-line of realism. The quirky characters and their subcultures are just too strange and specific for Jared Keeso to have entirely invented them. Indeed, Keeso pulled from his experiences in his hometown of Listowel, Ontario. In particular, Listowel directly inspired Letterkenny's fight culture, like Wayne constantly getting pulled into a "Donny Brook" (a fight) or having to defend his unofficial title of toughest guy in Letterkenny. "There's a lot of big corn-fed dudes walking around," Keeso told Fightland. "They were never bullies, but sometimes they were. And so you'd live in fear of some dude actually twice your size just swatting you like a fly at some school dance or outside in the parking lot. So it was legit. There was a lot of fighting in Listowel, and it kept everybody on their toes and everybody behaving." 

But Letterkenny isn't all Listowel. "I lived in a lot of small towns playing hockey and picked up a lot of that stuff along the way," Keeso said to the CBC. That means Keeso's memories inform not just the scenes with the "hicks" but also the ones featuring the lowly local minor league hockey team, the Letterkenny Irish.

Letterkenny Babies

The '80s and '90s gave the world multiple cartoons featuring "kid" versions of well-known characters. Looney Tunes, the Flintstones, and the Muppets all got the treatment, with Tiny Toon Adventures, The Flintstone Kids, and Muppet Babies, respectively. The original entities were all family friendly, so those spinoffs weren't all that daring, but what if some TV producer were to make a cartoon version of a show about a group of Canadian farmers who speak openly about sexual proclivities, drink and smoke all day, get into fist fights, and butt heads with the local gang of drug-dealing goths? Inexplicably and amazingly, a kid-friendly cartoon spinoff of Letterkenny is a thing. 

In June 2019, just before Canada Day, Littlekenny debuted. Letterkenny's chief creative, Jared Keeso, wrote and directed all six episodes and voiced the grade school-age version of his character, Wayne. Nathan Dales (Daryl) and K. Trevor Wilson (Squirrely Dan) played the younger editions of their characters, too. While it's amusing to see these familiar characters as animated kids, Littlekenny is really a prequel, or a Letterkenny origin story, as it shows how the three main male characters met — having each other's backs when dealing with trouble on the playground.

The music is clearly Canadian

Very few Canadian TV shows make it to the U.S., let alone reach a level of mainstream popularity. Those that do — such as Schitt's Creek — aren't explicitly about the Canadian experience. But Letterkenny is unabashedly Canadian, celebrating the unique state of life in rural Ontario. Its "Canada first" sentiment extends to the music. The Letterkenny soundtrack is carefully curated by show creator, co-writer, and star Jared Keeso, who strives to include as many Canadian nuggets as possible. In the 2017 episode "MoDeans 2," where Letterkenny's beloved (and only) bar re-opens, the cast cools out to "It Always Happens This Way" by Toulouse, a '70s Quebecois disco group. In "Les Hiques," Wayne and the gang fight their French-Canadian counterparts to the tune of "Belvedere" by francophone punk band Ponctuation.

The show's rollicking, bar band-ish theme song, "Who Needs a Girl Like You," comes courtesy of Vancouver, B.C., blues-rock combo Indian Wars, a band so indie that it didn't even have a deal when Keeso provided a big break by using one of their tunes as the theme song for Letterkenny.

Get this guy a Puppers

Letterkenny's Wayne is an indisputably tough guy, constantly forced into fights and always squinting extra hard at people who behave in ways he disapproves. He's also a big softy, at least in terms of his love of dogs. In many Letterkenny scenes set in and around Wayne's farmhouse, he's shown holding a dog while carrying on a conversation, and no mention of it is made. Wayne just loves dogs. 

Plenty of other characters' dogs wander in and out of scenes, as well, and the farmers' beer of choice is the Puppers brand, complete with a dog mascot. That casual and profound on-screen appreciation of dogs is a reflection of the working environment on Letterkenny. "It's such a dog-friendly set," actress Melanie Scrofano (she plays Mrs. McMurray) told The TV Junkies. "It's like a farm. We are always outside, though, so you can always have dogs, and everybody looks after everyone else's dogs." That means it's always "Take Your Dog to Work Day" at Letterkenny, and that's a benefit the cast and crew enjoy. As Scrofano explained, "When they're not on set, they are in the wardrobe, everywhere, and just part of the crew."