We'll Never Lose a Game Again

Shoresy: Season 2

We just witnessed the end of Letterkenny, a show that seemed dedicated to keeping its characters in one place, letting them go about their lives on a kind of a loop forever. It’s interesting to look at the show and then compare it to its spin-off, Shoresy, since this series actually has goals for its characters and wants them to continue to move forward and grow. Both clearly exist in the same world, both have the same kind of humor and characters, but here we have a series that really has drive, that has a goal, that wants to propel itself through storylines. It’s not a show about nothing, these characters are out to do something.

This is, without a doubt, exactly what I wanted from Letterkenny. The second that show got stuck (to use its own term) in its rut it lost its narrative momentum. It stopped being as good or as funny. It was the same characters doing the same things in the same ways, and there’s only so many seasons you can watch that before you get bored. Shoresy, though, has the room to expand, to introduce new people, to play characters off each other in different ways, all for the sake of seeing what could come next and where the series can go. It doesn’t have to be stuck because it can (literally at times) move around freely.

We have to note, of course, that this is a series based on the Shoresy character, as played by creator Jared Keeso, who was absolutely obnoxious on the parent series. That was the point of the character. He was meant to play a (largely unseen) foil to the hockey players, Jonesy and Reilly, and he got to say crass things while, literally, telling “fuck you.” While some of that behavior carries over into Shoresy – he does regularly trash talk other players in the rink – his character has grown and developed far beyond his basic foil origins. He’s a real character with depth, background, and goals. I would honestly say that, of all the characters in this little connected universe (on both series) he’s grown to be my favorite, and it pains me to say that considering how much I hated him over on Letterkenny.

But that’s the beauty of this show, really. It takes a setting we only mildly engaged with on Letterkenny – the hockey players and their world – and fills it out so that we can get invested in their stories. Of course that means we get invested in whether or not the team wins, and the drive for the series is seeing how far they can go in their quest to actually be a good hockey team. It does mirror the few short hockey storylines we got over on Letterkenny, but now there are bigger stakes, and a real drive to succeed, that was missing on the parent series. If the hockey players won or lost, did it really matter? They would be there the next season, looking to continue bulking up, hitting on women, and maybe sometimes playing hockey when they felt like it.

For Shorsey, though, the hockey is the whole of it, and this team has to win. As we saw last season, the team Shoresy captains, the Sudbury Blueberry Bulldogs, has to win. The owner, Nat (Tasya Teles) swore she would shut the team down if they lost again, driving Shoresy to pull the team together and win (most) of their games that season. As we see at the start of this season, they not only went on to win that season’s championship, but they’ve also become something of town celebrities in Sudbury all because they’re finally winning games (only in Canada could, as they put it, a Whale Shit Beer League hockey team become cause celebre in a small town). But Shoresy made a promise and, despite one loss, he intends to keep that promise.

Now, twenty games into a “heater” (a winning streak), the Bulldogs are set to break the league record for most wins in a season. As the players put it, “do you want to be the best team in the league, or the best team ever?” If they can keep the streak going they might just have a chance not only to win their division but also make it to Nationals. There they could play against other, big teams and have a chance to really put Sudbury on the map. But for Shoresy it’s all about the team, and he has to lead by example. If it’s good for the team, he’s there. And if it keeps their streak going, he’ll do it. This is his life, and he did make a promise.

Shoresy has two things going for it (besides a name that I keep wanting to put an extra “e” into when I spell it out): comedy and story. While Letterkenny was strong (in its early seasons at least) on the comedy side of the equation, it didn’t really invest in story. But a sports team naturally has a story baked in. Are you winning or are you losing? If you’re winning can you keep it up? If you’re losing, how do you change momentum and become a winning team? It’s simple storytelling, yes, but the show goes with the natural flow and uses it to its advantage. Instead of being a hockey show about nothing it’s a hockey show about a team that almost ceased to exist and now is fighting not just for its life but to prove to everyone that it matters. That’s a good story to invest in as it keeps viewers interested, wanting to see more.

But the show also gives stories to its characters on an individual basis. Some find love, some find just sex, and some find community among the players and they pursue hobbies (like a trivia contest) outside of hockey. These moments help to flesh the show out, to make it seem more real, so that the world isn’t just hockey (even if ninety percent of the show is all about hockey anyway). These are people that have lives outside the rink and while the show could have just ignored that and kept everything focused on the ice, it doesn’t. Shoresy as a character existed only on the rink in Letterkenny but he exists as a real person here and they help the show feel lived in and real.

On the comedy side, this show is filled with solid moments. Much of it still comes from Shoresy and his running comments. Hearing him take down other players either in his league or one of the leagues he’s refereeing is hilarious, in large part because he has a deep and broad dirty vocabulary. But his other running gags play as well, from asking a question and then interrupting with a “huh?” just to be a dick, to sarcastically teeheehee-ing whenever team manager Sanguinet (Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat) has a moment with his new girlfriend. And the other characters get in on the action, from a player obsessed with his roots in Newfoundland, to a couple of the players getting abused by the rest of the team for not giving their all on the ice. The show continues to find ways to mine humor from the characters, the setting, and the setups, and it works so well.

There really aren’t really a lot of flaws with this series, at least none to speak of if you came over from Letterkenny and want more comedic adventures set in that world. The show is crass, and crude, and it’s got its focus squarely set on the world of hockey. While you don’t have to be a hockey fan to enjoy the series, you do have to at least enjoy the tone and tenor of this series (and Letterkenny) to be able to get into Shoresy. I’ve shown Letterkenny (the first few good seasons) to a few friends and not all of them could get into it. It was too dirty, too crass for them, and I can understand why they might have felt that way. If that was the vibe you got from Letterkenny, then Shoresy’s first two seasons won’t change your mind at all.

But if you can enjoy this kind of show, this kind of humor, then Shoresy is worth checking out. I’d argue that with the continued depth they’ve added to the characters and the setting, this second season is even better than the first. That puts it miles ahead of the later seasons of Letterkenny, making it, for me, a must watch comedy every time new episodes drop. Maybe someday it’ll have the same drop in quality that Letterkenny saw, but for now Shorsey is riding high on a twelve-episode heater and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.