How the weirdos of ‘Letterkenny’ became Hulu’s sleeper hit

Forget broad sitcoms — between “Schitt’s Creek” and “Succession” it’s never been a better time for comedies that hone in on niche settings. So it’s no wonder that “Letterkenny” has become a cult hit.

Set in a sleepy Canadian town populated with idiosyncratic characters, the award-winning show (currently streaming on Hulu) follows sibling farmers Wayne (Jared Keeso, who’s also its creator) and Katy (Michelle Mylett, “Goliath”) and their friends Daryl (Nathan Dales, “iZombie”) and Squirrely Dan (K. Trevor Wilson, “Man Seeking Woman”). Episodes begin with text on screen informing the viewer, “There are 5,000 people in Letterkenny. These are their problems.”

“Over the years with it becoming more and more known in the States and even around the world — you can tell because of social media — it’s been a slow but steady build and that’s been really cool to watch,” says Mylett, 31.

“Letterkenny” began in 2016 but is fresh to American audiences, since it’s bounced around between distributors, originating as a Web series, before moving to Crave, The Comedy Network, and finally Hulu, which enabled it to spread its wings in the US. There are currently eight seasons, though each is bite-sized at just six episodes, often coming out within three months of each other. Mylett says they’re filming a ninth season this summer and a tenth season this fall, as well as taking the show on a live tour.

The cast is skewed heavily male, with Katy being one of the only women.

Michelle Mylett in
Michelle Mylett in “Letterkenny.”Hulu

“When I originally booked the show, especially the first season, I was the only lead girl, so I was a little bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” says Mylett. “They’ve written such a strong female character. I’m like the sister to everyone. Katy is a very spirited person, she very much has a mind of her own, and she has this incredible support system around her.”

Like “Seinfeld,” or “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the show’s plot is about nothing in particular, essentially following the characters as they hang out and pontificate about various opinions (such as the right way to dress french fries) — often sitting in front of Wayne’s produce stand — or get into skirmishes with other people. And like “Schitt’s Creek,” it revolves around a community of quirky characters. It takes some time for the viewer to acclimate to the language of the “Letterkenny” world, often dipping into regional or show-specific slang such as characters saying “pracky” to refer to hockey practice or “degens” to refer to degenerates.

“At first [the dialogue] was hard because it’s so fast, the way it’s written is quite specific. I was getting tongue-tied often, but after a bit of time I got used to it,” says Mylett, who attributes the show’s success, in part, to its quirky quotability.

“There are so many quotes that are very ‘Letterkenny’-specific,’ it’s kind of a secret society of all these weird Canadianisms. The writing is really smart and funny; it might look like a small-town show and small-town people but the way it’s written is surprisingly brilliant. People watch it expecting one thing and they get the delightful surprise of it being a complex show in a lot of ways.

“It’s been really cool seeing people from all walks of life all around the world identifying with this little Canadian town and the weirdos in it.”

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