By Christian DiMartino
For the first time in many years, I decided to watch The Emmy’s last year. I’m not always one to watch TV, but it was one of the first years where I felt as if I’d watched enough of what was nominated to know what I was talking about. Well, pretty early into the show, there was an unexpected winner, and said show managed to win every single major award it was nominated for, showing that, yeah, I still don’t know what I’m talking about. The show, as you probably know, was Schitt’s Creek, and despite hearing slight buzz for it here and there, it became the talk of the town, and fast. The funny thing is… the show was already over.
In October of 2019, I was housesitting for my parents. That week, I was OBSESSED with HBO’s The Leftovers (a masterpiece of television, really, watch it), but one night, I couldn’t get HBO to load. So I settled for Netflix, and found myself watching Schitt’s Creek. I saw it a few episodes- it was quick, breezy, funny, but it didn’t fill the hole of The Leftovers, and while enjoyable, I forgot to watch it again. Until said Emmy’s sweep, a year later. I’m not normally one to board hype trains, but a few episodes into revisiting it, I was all aboard the Schitt’s Creek hype train. This show is a work of comedic genius, and, if we’re being honest, a comedic masterpiece in its own way.
The show starts out with a group of people you’ll either be annoyed by, or you’ll get a kick out of. While the argument is there for both, I say, stick with it, because the show honestly unfolds to something beautiful. Schitt’s Creek is really funny, but outside of its initial set-up, the show is less about story and more about characters, and the scenarios that these characters find themselves in. Yet despite how they are at the beginning of the show, and honestly throughout, what’s so unique about Dan Levy’s writing is the way that he manages to never lose sight of who these people are, while also showing us sides of them that they’re normally too prissy to show- a softer side, and said soft side is handled at times in such bittersweet moments, particularly in the wonderful, multiple Emmy winning final season, that it magically never feels forced or sentimental. It’s all earned.
So basically the show revolves around the Rose’s, and their fall from grace. Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) was a video store magnate, and his wife Moira (Catherine O’Hara) was the star on a soap opera called Sunrise Bay. In the opening minutes, the Rose’s lose their luxurious life, mansion, cars, jewelry, yada yada, all taken by the government. All gone in the blink of an eye. So, where are they to go? Well, Johnny had so much money at one point that he purchased a really small hickville town called Schitt’s Creek (a town, if my memory fails me, that was purchased as a bet). So that’s where they, along with their adult children David and Alexis (Dan Levy and Annie Murphy) are to stay until Johnny is able to get the deed and sell the town. Considering the lives they’d previously lived, you can assume that this place is not their style. They live in a rinky-dink motel, ran by the sarcastic Stevie (Emily Hampshire); the town has about one restaurant; going tailgating is considered an event; and they face constant frustration and harassment from the mayor of the town, a goofball named… Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott). Hell, I’ve never lived the lives these people have, and it looks like a nightmare to me. Yet the more they find themselves making an effort to adjust to their new lives, the more they… weirdly, strangely, find themselves feeling at home.
Whether or not you enjoy spending time with the Rose’s is up to you. Personally, each of them are hilarious in my eyes, and they all work such wonders together that it kind of shocks me that the show wasn’t in Emmy contention sooner (the final two seasons were nominated for major Emmys). Eugene Levy’s Johnny is the straight man, constantly having to keep Moira and the kids in line, along with juggle all of the other insanity around him. Levy is brilliant in this role, and there are times when even his facial expressions elicit a laugh because we’ve pulled those faces, and we’ve felt his pain, even if the reason is different. Levy’s son, Dan, turns out to be not only a natural as an actor, but as a writer and a director too.
David is flamboyant and whiny, and I won’t deny that I saw so much of myself in him. Actually, I see myself in a lot of these characters, which makes me wonder what that says about my personality. Murphy’s Alexis is great too. At first, her decisions make us want to yank our hair out, but I love this certain face she always pulls. I cannot describe it, you just have to see the show. That and I love all of the random celebrity stories she shares. At any moment, she comes up with something along the lines of, “this reminds me of the time I went kayaking with Robert Pattinson.” That’s not a line in the show, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.
My favorite of the bunch though is O’Hara’s Moira. Sometimes, she doesn’t even have to say a line that’s actually funny, but I’ll still laugh, because of the way that she delivers it. Moira Rose walks, talks… I would say dresses (her wardrobe is out of this world), but at least, talks, as if she were trapped in a soap opera. Everything is so dramatic in the life of Moira Rose, and I could never get enough of it. I do also really love Hampshire’s Stevie too. She’s funny and snarky, and she plays wonderfully off of David, and yet in the final two seasons, they do something with her that really hit me close to home. Noah Reid’s Patrick is a delight too, but I won’t dive into him because of spoilers. Lastly, it’s great to see Elliott working again- it felt like he’d vanished off the face of the earth, and even though his character will drive you nuts, it’s in a good way.
It’s kind of difficult to write about a show like Schitt’s Creek because what is there to say besides, “it’s hilarious, watch it?” Well, it is hilarious, and you should watch it. I took my time with it, and it sort of broke my heart when it was finished. Its episodes are so fast, if you are one of those binge watchers, I imagine you could watch it in like two or three days. Yet Schitt’s Creek is more than just funny. I started sensing the direction it was going around the end of season two, and just where the show was going to place its heart. It’s a show that never loses sight of its characters and who they are, nor does it ever lose its humor. Yet it is a show that adds a certain sweetness to it all that ultimately makes it special. Believe the hype.