×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Became Such a Reliable Source of TV Joy

On the occasion of “Schitt’s Creek” dropping a (lovely!) Christmas special tonight, it’s a safe bet that you’re either reading this as a big fan or a confused bystander wondering when and why the hell this low-key Canadian show became so beloved.

To be a “Schitt’s Creek” fan who watched it from the start (or at least since it dropped on Netflix) means defending it to skeptical naysayers with emphatic joy. “The title is the name of a town, it’s supposed to be a joke!” you’ll exclaim to their raised eyebrows. “It takes some time to get going, but once it does, it’s the best,” you’ll insist to their initial wariness. And if all of the above doesn’t work, there’s nothing quite like whipping out a trusty, “but Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara” caveat to prove the show’s inherent bonafides.

All of the above is true. The series about a rich family going bankrupt began as a fun project for O’Hara, Levy, and his son Dan (also “Schitt’s Creek’s” co-creator and showrunner) to play the kinds of narcissistic weirdos that have long defined their comedy. It was always sharp, and everyone’s arch performances made characters that could have been too irritating to withstand too hilarious to ignore. (Though admittedly, Chris Elliott’s slovenly mayor was perpetually out of step from everyone else.) But it was also always clear if the series was going to have a meaningful life past its premise, “Schitt’s Creek” would have to shift from its initial “snobs vs rubes” setup to become something more.

And lo, it did. As us annoying diehards will tell you annoying reluctants until we turn blue in the face, “Schitt’s Creek” has since revealed itself to be a bright spot of comedy as smart as it is warm. The Rose family slowly but surely let go of their former lavish life and tried to move forward in their humble new one, albeit with a wall dedicated to the many ostentatious wigs of their theatrical matriarch Moira (O’Hara, turning in a performance as bonkers as it is brilliant, as per always).

But while the partnership of O’Hara and Levy — playing a married couple once again — is a reliable goldmine, the impressive evolution of “Schitt’s Creek” is in large part thanks to the Rose’s children and the actors who play them. David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) began the series as insufferable party monsters (though ones with impeccable comedic timing). Four seasons later, they’re still partial to the finer things in life, but they’re also functional-ish adults capable of compassion beyond their most immediate needs. Alexis leaned into her ambitious side, had her heart broken, stitched it back together. David made his first best friend (played by a perfectly deadpan Emily Hampshire), started a business, and fell in love. They didn’t become different people, but they did become better ones, and watching them do it was a wonderful, unexpected pleasure.

David’s romance with his smirky business partner Patrick (Noah Reid) has been a particular highlight, though also a mildly controversial one. As “The New Yorker” columnist Emily Nussbaum recently noted with both confusion and curiosity, there’s no real homophobia in Schitt’s Creek, a tiny rural Canadian town that even just statistically wouldn’t have a huge LGBTQ population. But according to Dan Levy, that was an explicit choice, not an oversight. “I have no patience for homophobia,” he unequivocally stated at this year’s Vulture Festival in Los Angeles. “As a result, it’s been amazing to take that into the show. We show love and tolerance. If you put something like that out of the equation, you’re saying that doesn’t exist and shouldn’t exist.”

So, no, maybe David being openly pansexual in Schitt’s Creek isn’t “realistic.” But bypassing homophobia altogether makes it possible for Levy to prioritize David’s queerness and relationship without centering the reactions of straight people around him (an annoying, persistent trope in stories that are ostensibly about LGBTQ people). It allows David the room to mature as a person and Patrick to figure out his sexuality without having to set aside time to deal with bigots. It makes room for a moment like the beautiful one mid-season 4, when Patrick croons “Simply the Best” to David, eyes crinkling with soft happiness as David (rarely one to embrace the inconvenience of having feelings) fails to fight a smile. When Moira leans over to give David’s arm a supportive squeeze, it isn’t just a sweet moment, but a significant one four seasons in the making that acknowledges just how much they’ve both grown.

The Christmas special takes everything that the series and its characters have learned to heart. It shows us a brief glimpse of the luxurious life the Roses lived when they had all the money in the world (not to mention a captive audience for Moira’s wobbly version of Christmas classics). But as we and they quickly realize, they also had far less of the affection they have for each other now — and that, much to their surprise, is truly priceless.

The “Schitt’s Creek” Christmas special airs Dec. 19 at 10 p.m. EST on Pop. Seasons 1-4 are currently available to stream on Netflix.

More TV

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

  • Jon Snow Arya Stark Game of

    'Game of Thrones' Final Season Vegas Odds Reveal Wild Theories

    With “Game of Thrones” hype at an all-time high, Las Vegas may be raking in as much money as the Iron Bank. HBO’s fantasy masterpiece has seized the gambling world’s attention nearly as much as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby. Fans spew countless theories on social media, such as which characters will be axed [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content