Back in 2016, Jared Keeso’s smash hit, Letterkenny released its debut season for streaming. Before long, the Canadian small-town treasure was reaching audiences around the globe, even attracting some A-List attention. The series that Keeso himself thought might be too niche for some audiences to fall in love with started on an online platform. He and a childhood friend started the anonymous Twitter account Listowel Problems based on the goings-on in their hometown. When he began to consider developing that project further, he reformatted the content for the screen. From that web series, Letterkenny was born.
When its spinoff series, Shoresy premiered in May 2022, it became the number one most-watched Canadian series to launch on Crave. While Shoresy and Letterkenny share a lot of the same charm, rhythmic alliteration, and a lead actor, Shoresy is not a carbon copy of its predecessor. It has its own peculiar charisma, distinctly unique set of new characters and a plot with a high-stakes goal.
The name Shoresy might be recognizable to some Letterkenny fans. In addition to the lead character, Wayne, Keeso plays this trash-talking hockey player in the original series. He shows up on occasion to chirp the boys on the Letterkenny Shamrocks hockey team and to offer some foul commentary. The fun gimmick is that while Keeso obviously plays both characters, one with a higher voice, the audience never gets to see Shoresy’s face….until now. Interestingly, in a 2017 interview, Keeso notes that of all the different groups that make up the cast of Letterkenny, the hockey crew was the one that viewers seemed to be drawn to the most. Given that insight, it’s not surprising that he was later inspired to take a beloved side character (that mostly acts as a running gag) and let him run amok with his own squad.
Shoresy follows a Sudbury, Ontario senior AAA hockey team on the verge of folding. No one wants to come and see their games, and they’re on a brutal losing streak. When Shoresy promises General Manager Nat (Tasya Teles) that the team will never lose again, he and his newly-appointed coach Sanguinet (Harlan Blayne Kytwayhat) whip together a new roster. Together, they create a new team that doesn’t only love to win but hates to lose. Shoresy is so confident in this new team that he makes a deal with Nat: if the Sudbury Bulldogs lose one more game, they fold.
His plan: “One top line of Canadian grade studs to fill the nets, surround them with the toughest Natives we can find.” His bright idea for a team restructuring leads to a cast of rowdy, hilarious characters with intense chemistry. Their approach in casting was to focus on athletes first and actors second. This decision ultimately results in the incredible attention to detail that hockey fans will love. Keeso, who grew up in hockey himself, includes key rituals to make this story as authentic as possible. For example, one might notice that the players never step on the team logo on the locker room floor. Incorporating real athletes and sportscasters into Shoresy only enriches the watching experience. Playing hockey throughout his young-adult life also means that Keeso is no stranger to visiting other small towns, not unlike the one he grew up in. This clearly translates in the dialogue and turns of phrase used in this show.
This series might take place in yet another small Ontario town, but its most notable distinction from Letterkenny might be its grand ambitions. Shoresy is upbeat and fast-paced, the plot is driven by a team’s dire need to remain undefeated. This intensely motivated group of players move the story along quickly, and the dialogue is snappy and witty to match. Because of that, a lot is accomplished within the six episodes of Season 1. There is a palpable driving force pushing the team to their limit and pumping excitement and energy into each episode. When there is a lull to focus on a drawn-out comedic bit, it feels extremely well-balanced. The passion portrayed by this set of characters is what gives Shoresy a completely different tone from Letterkenny, which approaches its characters’ stories from a more lackadaisical angle.
By playing this loud-mouth, pot-stirring, star athlete, Keeso himself gets to explore an entirely new identity. Letterkenny’s Wayne is notoriously stoic. Shoresy, on the other hand, could not be a more entertaining counterpart. It is absolutely delightful to observe Keeso’s playful, exuberant side after 10 seasons of the straight-faced tough guy we’ve grown to love. Shoresy is a non-stop ball of energy that has a ton of fight in him. He’s never afraid to speak up and has quite the vocabulary of colorful language to use when doing so.
The supporting cast are all wonderfully quirky in their own way but still meld together so nicely to form the perfect ensemble. Nat and her protégées Miigwan and Ziigwan (Keilani Elizabeth Rose and Blair Lamora) play off each other in such an effortless way to completely pull off their dead-pan delivery. As a group, they have the team wrapped around their finger, and it is endlessly satisfying to watch them set the boys straight. This is especially true when Shoresy and Sanguinet are presenting their newest teammates to the girls. In the second episode, “Veteran Presence,” Shoresy really hits the ground running with its top-notch comedic bits. A bar-none favorite example is in this scene, when the boys bicker about presenting the new recruits in a duotang versus a PDF. It’s so simple, yet hilariously repetitive. It also gets a lot of exposition out of the way, all the while reinforcing the unique dynamics at play between the five of them. Later that same episode, Shoresy and Sanguinet get acquainted with their Tough Natives: who are all named Jim. The collection of Jims refusing to adopt nicknames to differentiate themselves is once again a testament to the oddball brand of comedy that Keeso specializes in. Both of these scenes demonstrate that the series knows how to establish characters quickly and move on. The way these additions to the cast are introduced is so quintessentially in tune with the humor of the show and done so without sacrificing anything the audience needs to know. It is a sign of excellent discipline when writing the episodes that all of this exceptional banter and exposition can be packed so neatly into its short runtime.
Shoresy offers something new for fans of Letterkenny to latch onto. What is so admirable about this spin-off series is that it manages to maintain the same lovable nuances that initially separated Letterkenny from the rest of the half-hour comedy pack. It tells a story that stands on its own two feet without relying on the exact same methods of storytelling to once again draw viewers in. Keeso and the rest of the creative team behind Shoresey have breathed new life into this character and made yet another signature piece of iconic Canadian media that is truly one of a kind.