Thugged Out Gangster Shit convinced me that the tenth season of Trailer Park Boys is the most intricately plotted set of episodes the show has ever produced. It's doing a lot more than just telling a story, though it definitely doesn’t stop telling its story. Except when it does, or at least when it seems to.
This isn’t making a lot of sense right now. Maybe I need to hit a bottle of Ricky’s cannabis syrup. Man, that’s some good shit.
Anyway, I was in the process of figuring out what the hell is going on in this season of Trailer Park Boys after going through plot and character and thematic developments for the last eight episodes. You’d think I would have narrowed down on that by now, but it turns out that I haven’t.
And that’s actually pretty typical of how this season is put together. There is, at least at first, a very clear story that unfolds over this season. Julian takes the lead defending Sunnyvale from Barb as she tries to invalidate his ownership of the park, because she intends to evict all the residents and sell out to the suburban real estate developers creeping closer to its territory.
You'd think at first that this would be a pretty simple storyline. There’d be plenty to do as Julian keeps trying to make money to keep his greasy lawyer Steinberg on the case, keep the town in business, and outmaneuver Barb’s own schemes. But a lot of the actual story that we see on the screen, episode by episode, isn’t really about that. When I first watched these episodes, I thought that the writers were just losing the plot introducing all these other wacky ideas into the story.
What was the point of seeing J-Roc put on a Cholo persona other than feeling like Jonathan Torrens and the show’s writers have strayed into uncomfortably sorta-racist territory? Or Julian’s interval running Sunnyvale like a casino resort? Or the sudden arrival of Snoop Dogg and an entourage of celebrities partying at the Legion Hall? These things all seemed like distractions from the main plot – Julian fighting Barb in an elaborate chess game for control of Sunnyvale. Then I realized that this was the point.
This isn’t one of those stupid arguments that you should think of all the mistakes in the narrative as genius only because the writers put the mistakes there on purpose. That’s just making excuses for a writing team having made a bunch of mistakes. You’ve got to watch Julian through this series, and think of how his actions – episode by episode, even scene by scene – add up to building a scheme of his own to stop Barb. And when you see the arc of all these nine episodes, right up to the moment of the most horrible surprise plot event, the answer to that question becomes clear.
Julian isn’t developing a scheme. He isn’t developing any real contingency plans. He might think he is, but really, he’s just distracted. Now we’re starting to see why this season was constructed in what seemed like such a scattershot way. Those spectacles – Moneyvale Resort and Casino, Entertaining the Snoop – draw Julian’s attention away from the main problem that he’s facing. How he’s going to stop Barb.
He always seems to have it on his mind. Just look at him in one of those last scenes with Snoop as they sign the documents making him a partner in Sunnyvale as real estate and as an enterprise. He’s the same wheeling and dealing Julian. But he’s reactive. He couldn’t have planned being able to add the immense fortune of Calvin Broadus, Esq. to the financial backing of his company. That live feed to the Jimmy Kimmel show came out of nowhere.
Julian’s plan actually fell apart much too easily. You can tell when you watch him in court that even he’s surprised at how little effort it took to ruin all his plans. We were much more entertained watching Tom Arnold chase after Lucy, Doug Benson fuck J-Roc’s wife, and Snoop Dogg get stupidly high. Julian was dragged along by these ridiculous events too. He was drawn in too many directions to focus on what was in front of him all along – that Steinberg was an unprofessional, greasy idiot and a dick who was taking him for a ride the entire time.
Remember the failed heist of the truck a few episodes back? That was supposed to be an easy job. I feel as though I’ve seen Julian pull off that kind of job very successfully in the past. But it was an uncoordinated mess as the driver was replaced at the last minute by a guy who got no briefing on what he was actually supposed to do during the hijacking, and Jacob ended up getting shot. It’s at this point that you can tell that he’s starting to doubt Steinberg and what he has to say.
Then comes the idea for Moneyvale Casino Resorts, and Julian forgets all about Steinberg’s idiocy. Then comes Snoop and the entourage to party in the park for a few days, and Julian thinks he can actually rely on Steinberg. But the guy can’t even bribe a judge properly, and in getting caught he ruins Julian’s case for him.
So the story itself is dragging Julian away from being able to put up any real defence for Sunnyvale against Barb’s scheming. And it’s dragging us away from noticing it. All the different threads of the season have gotten away from us, and they’re coming together disastrously.
The whole season has a structure that takes us – along with Julian – along the ride of these distractions. And we see just enough of what’s happening on the sidelines – Ricky and Lucy’s marital problems over the baby and his life of petty crime, Jim’s increasing desperation as he’s hemmed in on all sides by hostility and rejection, just the barest hint of Steinberg’s grease – that we can see what can all come crashing down. Or in this case, crashing into a casino trailer on fire and shooting a gun around at everybody.
But then something totally ridiculous happens, and we all start laughing. Until we’re in the hospital with a brain-dead Ricky and the whole extended family collapses in tears. And just like Lucy, Julian, Trinity, Jacob, and Bubbles, you wonder how it all could have happened this way. But you also know exactly how.
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You can support Sunnyvale Psychochronography at my Patreon, and read through the index of my first pass at season ten at the introduction to the whole project. I might be starting a Kickstarter soon to support a small ebook of the season ten essays and a little extra material. For example, an expanded essay on the Jian Ghomeshi trial, or thinking through international stereotypes of Canadians as Trailer Park Boys can show us. Or anything you might want to recommend as a backer of either project.