Apr 27, 2014

Not a Lot Goin' On: Corner Gas

My favorite tv program of all time is Corner Gas (2004-2009), a workplace comedy set in the fictional town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, where a new generation of young hipsters has taken the reins from their elders:

1. Sardonic slacker Brent Leroy (Brent Butt) has taken over the only gas station-convenience store in 60 km from his irascible father Oscar (Eric Peterson) and formidable mother Emma (Janet Wright).  He hires his man-child high school buddy Hank (Fred Ewaniuk) as a mechanic and the self-professed smartest person in town, Wanda (Nancy Robertson), as a cashier.

2. Lacey (Gabrielle Miller), a fish-out-of-water from big-city Toronto, has arrived to run Ruby's Cafe, left to her by her late aunt.

3. Naive by-the-books police constable Karen (Tara Spence-Nairn) has just graduated from the academy and moved to Dog River, where her partner is middle-aged Sergeant Davis (Lorne Cardinal).

 In spite of the theme song proclaiming that there is "not a lot goin' on," the regulars are very busy with comedy nights and talent shows, hockey and curling tournaments, bingo, book clubs, a 10K Fun Run, Brent's attempts to foster tourism, Lacey's attempts to modernize things, visiting relatives, visiting Canadian celebrities, practical jokes, pranks, and misunderstandings, plus the full round of holidays (except Christmas: it's always summer or fall).

Fred Ewaniuk (Hank) is the most attractive member of the cast, but he never takes his shirt off.  There is no beefcake.

No gay characters are identified.  There is a bit of homophobia in Hank, who worries that cafe's new frou-frou decor will turn him gay, but it is counterbalanced by the other characters' nonchalant acceptance of same-sex potential; for instance, everyone who goes on a fishing trip with Hank falls in love with him.

Besides, you don't need gay characters to be gay-friendly.  A lack of hetero-mania is just as good.

In most American sitcoms, every other line is about someone's hetero-horniness, every other episode involves someone's hetero-romantic conquest, and eventually all of the regulars are paired off  (think of Friends or How I Met Your Mother).  Not in Corner Gas.  Brent and Lacey briefly consider dating, but drop the idea and remain friends.  Five episodes total involve someone's hetero-romance.

Corner Gas is about a group of friends.

 No wonder, as the theme song says, "It's my happy place."  An episode of Corner Gas is a sure cure for depression.  Except for the last episode, in which Brent becomes a professional comedian and has to say goodbye.

Buy any of the seasons, and watch in any order; there are no character or premise changes.

See also: Trailer Park Boys

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