Four episodes into the tenth season and five weeks into the Sunnyvale Psychochronography. Let’s take stock of where we are. Because today, we’re going to talk about Ricky. And Ricky is kind of fucked.
I don't just mean this in the usual sense that Ricky is fucked. As in cognitively impaired. Which he is.
See, this project is pretty complicated and complex. For one thing, it’s called a psychochronography. If Ricky tried to say that word, it would come out more like “psychopathoronniegraph-or-whatever-the-fuck-big-smart-word. . . . Fuck!”
Ever since I first got into Trailer Park Boys in its first season, I thought it was a seriously smart show. And when it came back on Netflix, it was even smarter. When I encourage people to get into the new episodes, I tell people that season eight’s storyline is basically a King Lear or a Macbeth for Jim Lahey. And I fucking mean it.
But I’ll also tell you about a conversation I had with one of my co-workers, who’s a really kind, happy, and fun person. I talked about one thing I loved about this particular episode of Trailer Park Boys, the internal contradictions of Ricky tearing him apart. And he loved the way Ricky would fall over onto his own face.
It made me wonder what other fans of Trailer Park Boys are thinking when they watch the show, and whether the Sunnyvale Psychochronography even has an audience. Am I going to sound like Bubbles on a desperate, manic riff when Orangie died desperately trying to describe the afterlife to a Ricky who couldn’t possibly understand the concepts of time’s spatial nature according to the mathematics of relativity theory, and the resultant philosophical block theory of time as a secular vision of a true afterlife? Is this not going to make sense to anyone?
No. Because Ricky as a character might be a ridiculously juvenile, clumsy, pratfalling goofball, but he’s also an impeccably choreographed physical comedian. There’s a lot behind those epic trips and falls. People loved Chaplin or Keaton for a lot of different reasons, and nothing has kept them from talking to each other about what they loved about them. And Rob Wells is the overweight, chain-smoking Little Tramp of Canadian television.
It’s not like I’m writing about William Blake or anything here.
Ricky is the biggest walking paradox on this show. He seems simple, and the character’s basic conception is very simple. He’s the idiot of the group. Humour and laughter come from Ricky’s stupidity. His frustrations at dealing with the complicated plans and long-term thinking of the more devious Julian. He says stupid things. He falls over a lot.
But Ricky also speaks with a very profound wisdom. His insights are remarkably perceptive, and even though his philosophical arguments are peppered with non sequiturs, insane inferences, and comically mispronounced words, they express profound truths.
“I’m lucky Lucy has stayed with me this long. I can’t risk losing my family again. Right now, I’m not doing anything illegal, just waiting for my pizzas to come. It’s not a lie if you believe it’s not happening. And I do. What makes a lie? Somebody has to find out it’s a lie for it to be a lie. So if they don’t? It’s not really a lie.”
Ricky is waiting in the car while Julian, Bubbles, JRoc, and T break into Sam Losco’s dentistry. He knows that’s why they’re there, but he’s capable of shutting that fact out of his mind. His main purpose is to wait for pizzas, which he’s ordered for his family. He’s simply given a ride to his friends for a purpose he knows nothing about – or rather, a purpose that he’s shut out of his awareness. It isn’t a lie if you believe that what’s happening isn’t actually happening. And he does.
Who wouldn't be envious of Ricky’s ability to defy reality in such a brute, literal sense? There are plenty of things in my own life that I’d love to believe never happened, and I can make a pretty reasonable guess that you have plenty of those things too. But we have to follow what reality tells us.
This is how transgressive Ricky really is. He’s the ultimate rule-breaker. Even reality can’t control what he’s able to do and think. Ricky acts without any reference to rules, expectations, and reality. He’s pure desire. He wants what he wants, and rages against the physical material of existence when he can’t get his way. It’s no wonder Lahey – that creature of pure, vindictive law and order – has always had such an unforgiving hatred of him. Ricky is desire.
This would ordinarily be a recipe for happiness. The truth isn’t what reality tells you, but what you believe to be true. But that’s not entirely the case. Ricky can’t just sit in the car, pick up his pizzas, drive his friends back home after their robbery, and go home to a happy evening with his family, play with his grandson, make fun of his son-in-law, bang Lucy, and do some late-night work at the dispensary while getting high as hell. He can transgress reality, running against it with no friction when it comes to his beliefs. But reality itself can still mess with him.
It’s only a lie when someone else believes it to be a lie. If only you know it’s a lie, you still have the power to make it a truth with your belief. That’s Ricky’s power. He can’t control reality, but he has the deepest ignorance of reality. The only reason he gets into trouble with Lucy in this episode over the robbery is because she doesn’t believe that his only purpose in the whole incident was getting the family their pizzas.
And wrecking her car. That was pretty serious too. That’s stupid reality messing with Rick again, making it so that he can’t believe that everything is fine.
That's how Ricky is more than just the most natural criminal in the world. Yeah, the only thing he can really do well is illegal stuff. The only way for him to live legitimately is for the government to legalize marijuana, one of the only places where he’s a literal genius. That and convincing cops that there really is nothing to see here, getting them to go along with his beliefs that he isn’t actually doing anything wrong.
But that transgression goes so much deeper. Ricky is defined by the fundamental idea that you can bend reality to your will. If you believe it, then it can be true. There’s nothing more rebellious than that. It’s the belief that we can build a paradise.
But what kind of paradise does Ricky want to build? It's pretty simple, really. He just wants a happy life with his family, and he wants his family to be happy too. Yet he's also a career petty criminal whose only talent is in petty crime, lies, and transgression. He wants to live in a very socially conservative world, as the patriarch of an extended nuclear family – his wife Lucy, his daughter Trinity and her husband Jacob, their son his grandson Mo – running his business in the small community where they all grew up.
His desire is for the same kind of conservative life that his wealthy neighbours at that subdivision live. That's the subdivision creeping closer to Sunnyvale's borders, the one from which Barb Lahey could land a massive financial windfall if she's able to control the trailer park's land. If anything could really tear Ricky apart, it's this. It's a contradiction that lies at the heart of his character. His paradise is the same vision as the people he has to steal from or exploit as his only means of subsistence that he can actually do properly.
Can Ricky's desire for the white-picket-fences happy family life sit easily with his essence as transgression itself?
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You can support Sunnyvale Psychochronography through my Patreon page. Sponsorship will help me create extra material, and you'll be able to join the project itself as a collaborator. Take part in a unique creative work!
If you're new to the project, check out what it's all about here. And you can read my walks through the earlier episodes of Season 10: Freedom 45, You Want the Lot Fees Suck Them Out of the Tip of My Cock!, and Three-Tired Shit-Dyke.