“Letterkenny” Is the Surprisingly Queer Canadian Comedy You’ve Been Sleeping On

This post contains mild-to-moderate spoilers, but I really want you to watch this show, so I think it’ll be worth it.

On paper, Letterkenny isn’t the kind of show I am normally into. So imagine my surprise when suddenly I found myself finished with all six seasons within a week, squealing about the unexpected amount of queer content that somehow never crossed my radar in the three years it’s been airing, and delighted to have found a new “happy place” show.

I’m hoping, “it’s queer, Canadian, and there are only 40 thirty-minute episodes to date” will be enough to sell you, but in case it’s not, let me tell you a little more about this eccentric show I’ve come to love.

Letterkenny is a comedy about Canadian stereotypes, centering around three male leads and the main character’s younger sister. It’s about Canadian hicks and Canadian hockey bros and Canadian goth “skids” and it’s just… so many men. Who fight a lot. I’m talking fisticuffs. Even when my friend Bridget pitched it to me, knowing my penchant for misandry she said, “I think you’ll really like this show, it’s very funny… but it’s a lot of men. So brace yourself.” And she’s the reason I found such Canadian gems as Schitt’s Creek, so I trusted her and dove in.

I’ll admit to you, the show is… weird. I watched the first episode and was fairly certain they weren’t speaking English, with their Canadian accents and rapid-fire references that flew over my head like a majestic Canadian goose. There were self-proclaimed hicks on a farm and hockey bros slinging insults back and forth at each other, greasy-haired boys dressed all in black doing wild dances outside the dollar store, a scantily-clad girl that seemed like maybe all she’d be is a sex symbol.

katy in a bikini

And I mean listen I’m glad Katy has depth but I’m also not mad at the fact she hates covering her midriff.

But by the end of episode two, something had happened without me expressly realizing it. I had come to care about these characters in a deeper way. By the end of the second episode, the set-up of the caricatures was over, and they had started to explore the relationships between all these characters. The brother/sister dynamic between the two main characters, Wayne and Katy, had suddenly become very important to me. Their friendship with farmer pals Daryl and Dan became precious. By the time I finished the second season, I was saying certain words in a Canadian accent and picking up phrases from their running bits. (Side note, that’s one of the best parts of this show: they know how to keep a running bit fresh; it’s never overdone, they never go stale.)

Much to my surprise, it quickly became clear that Katy was much more than the hot girl there for the ogling. (Though there is a running joke about Wayne thinking Katy doesn’t wear enough clothes in that big brother way, and Katy not caring what he thinks.) Katy is sassy and funny and smart, and (spoiler alert) quite queer! In fact… most of the recurring female characters (and some of the male characters) are queer in a casual way. Katy never “comes out” or discusses it, she just is dating two men at the beginning of the series, and then sleeps with a woman (off-screen) at a St. Patrick’s Day party.

And Katy’s queerness isn’t a one-and-done situation, contained to one episode then never mentioned again. There’s a running joke about one of the bartenders at their favorite bar being swoon-worthy and Katy is always swooning right alongside her guy friends. And I swear she has chemistry with every woman she interacts with.

Katy bites her lip

Shoutout to Cat Zimm for this gif that has stolen so many minutes away from me because if I look at it for one second I look at it for 60.

The bartender at said bar, Gail, is hypersexual in an over-the-top way that’s made funny by how people barely react to her practically humping the bar while she’s talking. But her sexual comments aren’t limited to gender. And then there’s Tanis, a First Nations woman (played by a First Nations actress) who lives on the nearby reservation, and is either friend or foe to Wayne depending on the day. She’s fierce and is the leader of a group of loyal followers. At one point she states explicitly that she swings both ways.

Also, Melanie Scrofano (aka THE Wynonna Earp) plays a recurring character that is truly wacky and says “cocksucking” like it’s a normal everyday adjective (“Someone get me a cocksuckin’ gin and tonic,” for example). Her and her husband are flirty and sloppy and polyamorous and she is most definitely sexually fluid as well.

Melanie Scrofano licks a paint can

I cannot overstate how bananas her character is.

Queerness isn’t played for the joke, though sometimes it plays into it. It’s never the butt of the joke, and the ultimate conclusion everyone always comes to is, “Different strokes for different folks.”

Overall, there was a lot that surprised me about the show as it went on. I never had to worry about a forced romance plot between Katy and Daryl or Dan. They have earnest conversations about feminism and homophobia, often propelled by the burly Squirrely Dan, who is in a women’s study class. But also hilariously serious conversations about ridiculous things, like whether or not an ant could ride a Sea-Doo.

The biggest thing for me is the found family aspect of this show. Wayne, Katy, Daryl, and Dan are a unit. They have traditions they never break, and they support each other in everything from brawls in the driveway to the Adult Spelling Bee. Guest actors from your favorite Canadian shows are apt to pop up at random (like aforementioned Melanie Scrofano, Clark Backo, also from Wynonna Earp, plus Kelly McCormack from Killjoys) and even when you don’t 100% get the references, you’ll still find yourself laughing at the absurdity of it all.

So if you want some surprisingly queer, obscenely funny, lighthearted joy to escape the real world, Letterkenny is a low-investment, high-reward way to do just that.

All six seasons of Letterkenny are available to stream on Hulu in the US, and on CraveTV in Canada. Pitter patter.

Just a nerdy, TV-loving, Twitter-addicted Hufflepuff who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 158 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. I was just introduced to Letterkenny over the weekend and was so hooked! I only made it through a season and half so I haven’t finished it so THANK YOU for giving me a reason to love it more with more queerness coming! And yes Katy is just……so many things wonderful.

  2. I’M SO HAPPY TO SEE THIS!!!!

    letterkenny is one of my favorite things ever and i have spent a fair amount of energy trying to articulate why, despite it on its surface sounding so unappealing to me in just about every possible way, i absolutely love it so goddamn much it hurts.

    plus, though this article doesn’t really get into it for obvious reasons, the menfolk get their chance, too—between the super sweet, loving bromance and homoeroticism of the hockey boys and the surprising number of other open presentations of masculinity and/or queerness in dudes…

    it’s just so unexpectedly great in so many ways, aksdjfhaskjdfh

    PS for new watchers—my letterkenny friends and i tend to recommend skipping “fartbook” and “hard right jay” but ymmv

    • I’m so with you on fartbook (because “there’s such a thing as… improper”), and I tend to skip around from season 3 onward when introducing new friends to the show because some of the early episodes were still finding their voice… but Hard Right Jay? The character is unapologetically awful, but I felt like from the very start of the episode it was clear that he (and the hard/alt-right bros he’s a stand-in for) were despicable and not to be sympathized with. And without spoiling it, I found the third act of the episode very cathartic.

      Did I miss something? In case tone isn’t clear (because text on the internet, y’know), I’m not questioning your read of it, just curious to hear more of your perspective. Sorry for all the parentheticals.

      • oh, no, you’re totally right about the letterkenny folks always being clearly on the right side of things in hard right jay! and i agree about the catharsis, too.

        i just personally have big sorta-ill-defined feelings around the concepts of no-platforming (& even kind of poe’s law maybe?) that make me feel squicky about letting that character have SO much air time to say gross stuff, even if we all KNOW it’s despicable in the reality of the show?

        like, i think the episode could have worked just exactly as well with exactly the same plot beats… but with half (or less) as much of his uninterrupted dialogue.

        (i’m not sure if that makes sense—but i’m happy to try to ramble more if i need to, haha.)

  3. i started watching this show a little while ago and loved Katy without knowing anything was going to get queer and now i’m so delighted! thank you for this preview valerie, i’m excited for more people to know about this show

  4. I love Letterkenny!!!! I was literally watching the Christmas special while reading this! I love that there’s so much sexual fluidity and that “different strokes for different folks” is so nonchalant with them. And that Katy has a depth to her too.
    And uh, yeah, Bonnie McMurray.

  5. I live in rural Maine and used to work in farming communities in Illinois. The guys in this show are much funnier versions of dudes I have met/currently know. Yes, the show is mostly a very silly, but thorough, exploration of masculinity in this rural space, but it usually a generous read on the best versions of this kind of guy (well, generous to the Hicks, I think). They love each other and help each other (you help a man when he asks for it). They work hard (many hands make light work) and they play hard. And they know you don’t honk your horn at girls.

    Also, Tannis’ abortion was handled so well. And, she’s really interesting.

    I’m not sold on Glenn, the campy, barely closeted preacher. I think we are being asked to laugh at his femininity, especially as long as he is situated in a conservative church situation. But, the Church stuff is otherwise dead on it’s portrayal of a certain kind of youth group.

    Also, also, I really want to meet Dan’s women studies professor. And, it was fun to see Shae Pressman show up and date Wayne for a bit.

  6. I found Letterkeny during it’s second season, and I’ve been trying to get my friends into it ever since. Success has been limited. They can’t handle the accents and strange cultural references. sigh.
    Season six was fantastic, I thought 4 was a little off but they’ve returned to form! I’m really glad other people in the US are finally picking up on this. Having it available on hulu is way easier than trying to find rips from Canada.

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