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The Surprising Origin Of The Trailer Park Boys

"Trailer Park Boys" has been around in one form or another for nearly 20 years, premiering in April of 2001 and concluding its 12th season in 2018, totaling more than 100 episodes in length. Additionally, various spinoffs have seen the boys visit Europe and appear in animated form. Its latest spinoff, titled "Trailer Park Boys: Jail," aired for around 30 episodes online through the creators' online comedy network, Swearnet. "Trailer Park Boys" has consequently expanded well beyond its roots as a mere comedy series, becoming something of a multimedia franchise.

It can be easy, then, to forget that "Trailer Park Boys" originated as a project by a group of amateur filmmakers. Series creator Mike Clattenburg initially cast friends of his with little prior acting experience in the three primary roles of its pilot, which he funded himself. Mike Smith, for example, was a musician before working with Clattenburg. After getting picked up by Canadian TV network Showcase, the roots were planted for the behemoth "Trailer Park Boys" has become today. The show's very conception, however, dates back further than that 2000 pilot, to a short film that Clattenburg released five years prior.

Trailer Park Boys originated in a short film

The first time that "Trailer Park Boys" leads Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, and Mike Smith appeared together was in a short film released by Mike Clattenburg in 1995 titled "The Cart Boy." In it, Wells and Tremblay play grocery store security guards, while Smith portrays a character that, for all intents and purposes, is Bubbles under a different name. So close is Smith's character Darren to his "Trailer Park Boys" role that he owns a cat named Bubbles, providing both the source of his future character's name as well as his affinity for cats. In this short too he already wears what would become Bubbles' trademark bottle glasses.

A few other "Trailer Park Boys" hallmarks also have their origins in "The Cart Boy." For instance, Darren collects abandoned shopping carts in the short's opening, which is also the impetus for a scam spearheaded by Ricky later on in "Trailer Park Boys." Furthermore, Wells' character — a security guard rather than a track pants-clad ne'er-do-well — is even named Ricky in "The Cart Boy." Meanwhile, personality-wise, Tremblay's Jason is not too far off from Julian, his "Trailer Park Boys" character with a perpetual drink in-hand.

Though "The Cart Boy" ultimately stands on its own as a self-contained short, its role in "Trailer Park Boys" history is undeniable.

The Cart Boy served as a proof of concept for Trailer Park Boys

In honor of the 20th anniversary of "Trailer Park Boys," the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation published a history of the show's origins, featuring first-hand accounts from virtually all major parties involved. As it turns out, Robb Wells and John Paul Tremblay performed comedy together prior to collaborating with Mike Clattenburg. Mike Smith, meanwhile, worked sound, drawing from his experience as a musician. It was Clattenburg's idea to incorporate the Bubbles character — previously just a voice Smith would break out to amuse his friends — into Wells and Tremblay's act.

In fact, "The Cart Boy" effectively served as a proof of concept for Bubbles' character specifically. When Clattenburg made the short, Showcase was already interested in a "Trailer Park Boys" TV show based on the strength of Ricky and Julian's characters, but wanted to see Bubbles in action before signing off on his addition. "The Cart Boy," therefore, spotlights Bubbles specifically.

Not only is "The Cart Boy" a sort of primordial "Trailer Park Boys," then, but the short served an integral role in getting "Trailer Park Boys" on the air by proving that what would become the Bubbles character was compelling enough for TV.