THE LAKE – Thoughts on Season 1 – (minor spoilers)
When we first meet Justin Lovejoy (Jordan Gavaris), he is dithering over ice cream flavours at the back of the local convenience store. Romance is in the air as an impossibly hot store manager named Riley (Travis Nelson) offers to help and Justin buys many things he does not need (but no ice cream at all) while making impossibly clever conversation. Justin has just returned to cottage country, having departed more than a decade ago after getting his best friend Teesa (Sagine Sémajuste) pregnant on prom night. Justin and Teesa gave up the child in an open adoption, and the then-overweight Justin figured out that he was gay, went to Australia, and got married. A divorced, no-longer-obese Justin has arranged to spend the summer with his daughter Billie (Madison Shamoun) at The Lake, which is where Justin grew up.
Problem is, Justin’s step-sister Maisy-May (Julia Stiles) also lives at The Lake, and has inherited the family cottage. Maisy is the daughter of the second wife of Justin’s father and wants to do a radical renovation of the place, much to Justin’s displeasure because most of Justin’s pleasant memories of childhood come from his relationship with his grandfather (who built the place). Justin discovers that the cottage is held in trust and if Maisy ever leaves, ownership reverts to him. He embarks on a quest to stop that renovation, while at the same time attempting to establish a meaningful relationship with his daughter, whom he has not seen since giving her up.
Maisy is married to Victor (Terry Chen), an ex-hockey player who paraphrases Brené Brown a lot and is in great shape despite needing to have some clothes let out in the waist. Those alterations are made by his younger son Darian (Declan Whaley) whose chosen name is Opel, and whose pronouns are he/him. Victor’s other son Killian (Jared Scott) seems uncertain of himself, and drifts into a relationship with Billie (though his parents have other plans for him). Soon after finding out about Justin’s return, Maisy invites him to a thing called “Games Night”, and, as they prepare for the games, Victor has this conversation with his wife:
VICTOR: “Place looks great, Maiser.”
MAISY: “Oh, just remember: No mention of the reno okay? I already told the kids.”
VICTOR: “Is that why you put Opal’s vision board away?”
MAISY: “Well, with Justin back on the lake, I just don’t want people talking again. You remember what it was like when I first got the cottage. Oh, no, of course you don’t. You had just been traded to Pittsburgh.”
VICTOR: “Ah, yes. The lost years.”
Billie’s parents, played by Lisa Codrington and Milton Barnes, seem quite liberal and not particularly religious, although they did tell Billie that the alternative to her spending the summer with her birth dad was Bible Camp. (It was the only summer camp available on such short notice.)
A Lake tradition, “Prank Day”, gets a bit out of hand this year. Riley ends up with an arrow in his leg (no serious injury), and Justin gets tied to a tree, but dangerous violence strikes only the hockey player.
Justin’s supervision of Billie is noticeably lax, and when she remarks on that, this exchange happens:
JUSTIN: “I’m not like other birth dads. I’m a cool birth dad.
BILLIE “Are you quoting Mean Girls?
JUSTIN: “Your parents have their bible. I have mine.”
There are other ties to the exploits of Cady Heron and Regina George. Jayne (Natalie Lisinska) and Wayne (John Dore) gave birth some years ago to a large chunk of The Lake’s next generation, a set of quadruplets named Terrier (Brielle Robillard), Jerika (Emily Roman), Kerrigan (Kaitlyn Bernard), and Olive (Julia Lalonde). The four role play as the local mean girls, and Jerika seems to be the leader of the pack. Olive was born last, has a birthday one day later than the first three, and is the only one to take after her father.
THE LAKE is the one of the funniest things on Amazon Prime right now, and one of the main reasons for that is Ulrika (Carolyn Scott), a survivalist and sometimes naturist who maintains political order on The Lake. Ulrika is the catalyst that makes the jokes work. Cottage season begins next Victoria Day (22 May), and if there is a second season, it’s a fair bet Riley will return, and Maisy’s mom Mimsy will probably be involved. (She has one line near the end of Episode Eight, though no actor is credited with uttering it.) Justin’s final line this season was: “Come on. Let’s go meet our monster.”