You survived the apocalypse. Now where do you go? Orillia, naturally.
That’s what happens in The Amazing Gayl Pile: Last Resort, the fifth instalment in LaRue Entertainment’s International Emmy-nominated Gayl Pile comedy web series, available on the free CBC Gem streaming service. It was filmed in Prince Edward County, but it’s set in Orillia.
Before nuclear war changed the global landscape at the end of Season 4, Pile, a home shopping host, decided to leave Hamilton for Orillia to open a kangaroo farm — “you know, the classic storyline,” says show co-creator Morgan Waters, who plays the role of Pile.
“Orillia is now this tropical paradise where he opens a beach resort,” Waters explained.
The Orillia Sands Beach Resort is the first of its kind in the world after the nuclear war, and people take notice — even those pesky “refugees from Barrie.” Not happy with their presence, Pile goes from “ladies’ fashion to fascism.”
“He kind of demonizes Barrie. It serves to show how ridiculous Gayl’s prejudices are about people from Barrie,” Waters said, noting the deep-seated resentment goes back to when the main character’s mother would get annoyed while driving through Barrie to get to cottage country.
With great power comes great ego, and Pile, who was “always sort of a weiner in pleated khakis,” is no exception.
By taking aim at Barrie residents, “he’s trying to prove to his mother that he’s worthwhile,” Waters explained.
With the Great Lakes having flooded, the Orillia LCBO is a couple of kilometres underwater. Fortunately for those at the resort, a deformity caused by the nuclear war has given one person the ability to swim down and retrieve the booze.
Pile’s character is a product of Waters’s and co-star and co-creator Brooks Gray’s love of “bad television — in particular, home shopping.”
“We started thinking, ‘There must be some darkness underneath those smiles,’” Waters said. “Gayl was an extension of that. Underneath, he’s got heavy emotional issues.”
Those issues come to light as Pile’s newfound paradise devolves into a dictatorship.
“Gayl’s trying to get back to traditional Orillia values, whatever those are,” Waters said with a laugh.
Despite the absurdity of the plot, Waters tries to make the show and its characters relatable, even if it involves ego, small-mindedness, an us-versus-them mentality and a sense of micro-nationalism.
Season 5 was shot last fall, and “a lot of the themes are more potent now than they were when we were filming it,” Waters said.
The Amazing Gayl Pile series has included appearances not only by Canadian comedic actors Inessa Frantowski, Chris Robinson, Linda Kash and Scott Thompson, but also international talent such as Jon Hamm, Paul Scheer, Jack McBrayer and June Diane Raphael.
In 2017, the series won two Canadian Screen Awards — Best Original Program or Series Produced for Digital Media (Fiction) and Best Direction in a Program or Series Produced for Digital Media.
All 10 episodes of Season 5 are available on CBC Gem. A trailer for The Amazing Gayl Pile: Last Resort can be found here.