“Schitt’s Creek” is a show that has grabbed everyone’s attention during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sadly, I didn’t start watching the show until it started streaming on Netflix. Then, of course, I couldn’t stop. It was finally acknowledged this year with the show’s multiple Emmy nominations and wins across practically all categories. It is a series that was absolutely built to binge. The story of a family coming to grips with reduced circumstances now feels like the parable of an age.
Having been cheated by their account manager, the Rose family is forced to relocate to the humble town of Schitt’s Creek, which Johnny bought for David as a joke. They take up residence in the local motel, overseen by Stevie , who acts, initially, as hilariously dead-pan woman to their rich-people elegance, and later as a bellwether of their transformation. It is a situation they vow is only temporary.
Watching the Rose family go through the five stages of grief over their dislocation, it is impossible not see our own family’s journey through the pandemic. Once scattered across the country with the three kids entering various stages of independence, the five of us are now living under one roof at a level of daily intimacy we have never experienced before.We too believe it is only temporary, but as the weeks have turned into months and milestones we hoped would occur with some normalcy keep moving down the entire calendar.
Clearly, what we hoped was a miniseries has been ordered up for at least a second season.
Like many modern comedies, “Schitt’s Creek” is single-camera, which means the story is not confined to soundstages. The Roses and their friends are often seen outside, though usually in pairs or trios and even then, the action remains, for the most part, interaction.
Instead, we, like the Roses, are left blinking at our family or pod members, sniping over one’s messiness and another’s habit of repeating what was just said, trying to get creative with our interior spaces and reacquainting ourselves with the house rules of wig maintenance or whatever particular quirk requires rules.
Moira is one of the best characters to ever appear on screen, from her wigs to her dauntless self-centredness, but the true masterstroke is her accent. Described by one character as “unrecognisable”, it has been the subject of countless think pieces. Her verbose and outlandish pronouncements are pure joy.
The writing team for this show consists of good-hearted souls whose scathing wit and insight are tempered by a humane belief in transformation and even transcendence. (They are Canadian after all.)
“Schitt’s Creek” is a morality play. David and Patrick’s relationship is romantic and charming and totally normal in every way. The show’s creator, Daniel Levy, has spoken about how important this was to him and what a huge step change it was for American television. A documentary about the show reveals that a group of more than 1,800 mothers of LGBTQ kids wrote to the cast of Schitt’s Creek to thank them for everything the show had done for their kids.
Distracted by expansive possibility, the Roses, like many modern families including ours, have become disconnected, from one another and from their own internal selves. They have bought into the idea that wealth ensures control and that control is the ultimate status symbol. Having that control shattered, along with the assumptions built upon it, leaves them in disbelief.
Now, I don’t think anyone will view the end of these pandemic times with anything except sheer gratitude; the parallels are not in any way perfect. Levy set out to imagine what would happen if a wealthy, privileged family had everything stripped away. The coronavirus did not target wealth or privilege; just the opposite.
Without giving too much away, there are two episodes with scenes in them that revolve around this song that I rewatch every time I feel down. They should be beyond cringeworthy and the show certainly sets them up that way. The surprise is that they are the precise opposite: with the lightest touch, the first scene is a huge turning point for David’s character and for this burgeoning relationship with Patrick. When he does his own version of the scene a few episodes later, we know this is gonna last.
“From start to finish our show will be exactly what it was intended to be,” said Levy. “The biggest mistake you can make in TV is shifting the focus away from characters and the storytelling to servicing audience expectations. The audience is there because you’ve done something right.”
Oh, and for the record, none of us has ever attempted to mimic Levy’s Johnny or O’Hara’s Moira. The Lord’s work is best left to the masters.
A classic sleeper success story, Schitt’s Creek swept this year’s Emmys, taking home nine awards. Just one of the things that make it so great