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


  1. Fred Ewanuick and Lorne Cardinal give me wholesome romantic feelings. Nothing dirty going on.

    1. I don't remember them having a gay subtext romance, or even interacting much one-on-one, although like all sitcoms the writers tried to get stories with every possible configuration of characters.

  2. Actually there is an episode where Hank is shirtless. Karen & Hank go fishing together & after seeing Hank with a bare chest Karen starts slow motion fantasizing about him.

    1. Hank doesn't take his shirt off, or even his coat, although the promo shows him fishing in a black muscle shirt. Karen is turned on by his elegant descriptions of fishing.

  3. Great write up on Corner Gas! It's a Canadian gem that will undoubtedly be rebroadcast for decades to come. Anyone know if the cartoon version is worth watching?


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