Hanging with the Degens

Letterkenny: Season 12

Here we are, one last time, looking at Letterkenny. It’s interesting to think that we’ve gotten to the end of the line for the series, with this twelfth season also acting as its last (the show has officially wrapped up its run), and yet for half the series I have to admit I haven’t really cared about the show. I loved the earliest seasons, and I’ll go back and watch seasons one through six over and over again. But, as I’ve voiced before, once the series seemed to settle in and actively resist having its characters grow up, change, evolve, or show any interest in events outside of Letterkenny (the fictional town where Letterkenny takes place) it also lost all its energy and drive. It became “just a hangout show”. If that was what you wanted, and all you wanted, I suppose that was fine. I just needed a little something more.

Why it’s interesting to me, though, is because I’ve dropped other shows for far less. There are a number of articles I’ve written for this site of “shows I’m never going back to” because, for one reason or another, they’ve tried my patience to the point where I simply can’t finish them. I would have thought Letterkenny would reach that point as well, but despite it basically being stuck in the mud for the last five-ish seasons, I still stuck around with the show. I did still like the characters, even if they showed no interest in growing as people. It’s hard to hate Wayne, Daryl, Katie, Dan, and all their friends, enemies, acquaintances, and random passersby. The show has a great cast and a solid collection of characters and that’s almost enough on its own to make the show enjoyable even as it sits in neutral.

Plus, of course, the show is easy to consume in an evening or two. At twenty-to-thirty minutes per episode, and only six episodes per season, you can burn through a season of Letterkenny in less time than it takes to watch some Marvel films. While I might have been growing tired of the Letterkenny shtick, it was so easy to burn through “just another season” with little time commitment. And so I did, season after season, just to get through to the end. And we’re here. The end of Letterkenny, and, well, the show continued to do what it did with little indication that it was ever going to become more. Hell, this season ends itself basically right where it started, with hockey players getting heckled by hicks out at the edge of their farm. Nothing changes in Letterkenny. That’s the message. And, you know, I can accept that now. At least that’s a final statement that works for the show we watched. It is what it is.

I think if the show hadn’t ended now but instead had tried to go for another twelve seasons or so I would have grown tired enough to quit at some point. The creators are great, and they don’t lack for ideas or the ability to create good, watchable shows. The spinoff, Shoresy, is great (at least for its first season, and I’ll be watching the second season soon). But Letterkenny had run its course (three or four seasons back, if we’re being honest) and the creators are letting it go out when it should, on their own terms, and they aren’t dragging it out. I appreciate that, and I think it gave me renewed respect for this show as well. Hell, this last season was actually pretty good.

The meat of this season focuses on a growing rift between Wayne (Jared Keeso) and his best friend, Daryl (Nathan Dales). Daryl has been the butt of many jokes from the rest of the hick crew over the years, and finally, when Daryl meets a new friend (who just so happens to be one of the degens from up country) he stops hanging out with his old friends. From there we see him slowly sink into the life of a degen all while Wayne tries to figure out how to get his friend back. Meanwhile it seems like Katy is thinking about moving away, Dan might go join up with the Mennonites, and Wayne’s girlfriend, Rosie, starts talking about how she doesn’t want to live in Letterkenny anymore. Everyone’s moving and shifting and their friend group might just be done.

Spoilers: it’s not, and that’s really the message of the season. But for five (of the six) episodes the show flirts with the ideas that it’s time to move on, to change and have all the characters finally grow up. They don’t, of course, because what this show wants to preserve is the idea that these guys are on a loop. They’ll always be in Letterkenny and they’ll keep doing their usual activities – drinking, laughing, having intellectual conversations of the day – because this town will always be there and they’ll always be in it. It’s the kind of ending you expect from any hang out comedy, really. Shows about nothing thrive by keeping the characters in their comfort zones so they can live forever. That’s the spot the show settled into and, at least for this final run, it finally acknowledges it officially.

But I don’t mind. Not this time around. In part that’s because this season’s flirtation with having the characters leave actually gave the show some needed energy. Daryl becoming a degen (mostly because of a girl, to be fair) allowed us to finally explore the degens as characters (although not with anything nearing depth). It also let us see some actual friction between Daryl and Wayne, something that really should have come up between them long before now. They’re good friends, and good guys, but sometimes you just have to step back and say, “hey, don’t treat me like this.” That message was clear.

Wayne having relationship issues with Rosie was a needed plotline, if for no other reason than because it really did feel like their relationship was going nowhere. I liked the earlier seasons when Wayne was with Marie-Frédérique because those characters were actually building their bond and working towards a future together (getting engaged, looking at where they would be years from now). Of course then the show had her cheat on him and that blew up that great relationship, but there was still a lot of spark, and a lot of drama, mined from that storyline and it worked.

Rosie never really added anything to the show. She was just another character to bounce lines off of but we already have a cast full of those characters. Rosie felt comfortable, safe, like she wouldn’t ever force Wayne to leave or even make him commit to being anything more than a boyfriend. There didn’t seem to be a future with them beyond “more of the same”, and while she wanted to change that, to make him leave Letterkenny, it’s hard to see how that would actually put spark in their relationship. They needed a kick to move on, and that ended up being to move apart. So that was a good way to end that storyline (with the promise of something else for him on the horizon). It was a needed change.

Still, at the end of the day, this is Letterkenny and it will always be this way. The hicks are always going to hang out in front of their produce stand, the hockey players will always chase tail, and the skids will always, always be drug dealers. They aren’t going to push themselves or change in any meaningful way and those of us holding out hope that the show would let the characters find their future had to accept that they already had. That’s the real note of the series, the final message of the show: Letterkenny will always be this way in this little town.

If you’ve stuck with the show at this point, and enjoyed it, then this is probably the exact ending you wanted. Just to know that the characters will always be there, same as they ever were. Hell, in that regard the ending of the show is perfect since it just lets the characters keep being the characters in their low-stakes lives, having fun one last time before the show wraps for good. It’s a simple, enjoyable hang out show to burn the odd couple of hours here or there. After twelve seasons, that’s all it needs to be.