It started as a harmless fling during lock down. A guilty pleasure I turned to once the kids were in bed and the day’s work was done. Twenty minutes of guaranteed laughter and a perpetual smile was the carrot that dangled delightfully as my prize for surviving another frazzled day cramming emergency-schooling into the same physical space and time as working, parenting, cooking, cleaning and zooming.
Initially, it was casual. It didn’t occupy my every waking thought. I could stop myself. There were nights where I could go without my fix.
And then? Suddenly I couldn’t. It became more serious: urgent and consuming. Before I knew it my life – my heart – could be neatly divided between before and after I watched Schitt’s Creek.
It’s a TV show. I have fallen head and heart over heels in love with a television show and I can scarcely cope. With the writing. The warmth. The wit. The costumes. (Dear god, the costumes!) The characters. The actors who bring them to life. The world they create. The most delightful romantic relationship ever depicted on screen. The devastatingly handsome comedic genius who wrote, directed, acted in and ran the whole damn show. A man whose obnoxious breadth of talents appears to be surpassed by his gigantic heart and a genuine desire to make the world a kinder place.
I have never felt undone by a television series but undone I am. Schitt’s Creek is the most affecting television series I have ever had the pleasure of watching. I’m on my third re-watch and honestly I cannot foresee a time in my life where it isn’t the only televisual comfort I will seek.
I thought I had loved TV shows before. 90210 was first and Melrose Place soon followed. Friends. The Secret Life of Us. Grey’s Anatomy. Mad Men. The West Wing. The Wire. Offspring. House of Cards. The Americans. Succession. After Life. I enjoyed all those series, I rode the emotional highs and lows of their protagonists, contemplated the story lines and desperately hung out for the next episode and the next season.
But no TV series has ever made me feel like Schitt’s Creek does. Initially, the consuming emotional response it elicited seemed improbable and likely a signal that my hold on reality was slipping faster than I thought during lock down.
But as I made the first tentative steps into what has since developed into the deepest dive humanly possible to scour the internet for every Schitt’s Creek-related detail discoverable, I realised I was not alone.
Total obsession appears to be de rigueur for SC-fans. You’re either absolutely and utterly enthralled, or you haven’t watched it.
The show is set in a fictional rural town, Schitt’s Creek, and follows the journey of the Rose family who find themselves living in two adjoining rooms in the town’s run-down motel, after losing the vast wealth they had amassed via the Rose Video chain courtesy of an errant business manager.
Johnny Rose, played by Eugene Levy, bought the town for his son’s 16th birthday as a joke. Imagine the family’s shock upon learning that after losing every cent the only ‘asset’ the US government would allow them to retain was indeed the town? And the mayor allows them to stay in the motel for free.
It’s wild but it works. It’s hysterically funny, it magically defies trope and totally reimagines acceptance and inclusion and love and belonging.
It is a show with the power to change the world and I say that despite being acutely aware of just how ridiculously hyperbolic that sounds.
“It’s an amiable and deliriously funny series—a portrait of a bunch of spoiled jerks softening in new surroundings. It’s sort of an obvious fish-out-of-water conceit, but what [they] do with that familiar setup—a rich family moving to a small town after going suddenly bankrupt—is somehow both sophisticated and quaint.”Vanity Fair
“Thanks to a daffy charm — a winning combination of its characters’ caustic wit and the show’s fundamental warmth — and enthusiastic word-of-mouth support, the series rose from humble origins to the pinnacle of TV acclaim.”The New York Times
“Schitt’s Creek is a Peak TV rarity: Instead of steadily shrinking over time [it] has actually gotten bigger with age. Word of mouth around the series has also exploded, fueled by critical acclaim and a 2017 deal which put past seasons of the show on Netflix. But Schitt’s didn’t just happen overnight. It’s been a slow-rolling success, blowing up at a point in its run when most other shows would just be starting to wind down.”Vulture
I could wax lyrical about its myriad marvels for months, which is basically what I’ve been doing for the past few months (pity the poor people in my actual proximity), but I won’t. I shall choose just one thing to wax lyrical about.
And it’s the way it presents pansexual character David, played by the previously mentioned superlatively talented Dan Levy, and his romantic relationship with his business partner Patrick, played by Noah Reid.
In the wildly wonderful world of Schitt’s Creek homophobia doesn’t exist. It was a deliberate decision that Levy, an openly gay man, made from the outset. Homophobia being depicted even negatively, he determined, gave permission to those who feel and peddle it. By simply being on screen it’s validated.
By taking it away, it’s not. It doesn’t exist, which is made even more delightful given the small-town setting, and despite sounding inexplicable it’s an incredibly powerful inclusive device. Without preaching or posturing it illustrates a world in which it is safe and kind to love whomever you love.
Patrick and David’s relationship is not defined by their sexuality: it’s defined by their love and affection. They kiss, they fight, they work together. (And on a few magical occasions they even sing – or lip sync – to one other and it is the most enchanting thing you will ever watch.)
The power of their love not just being depicted so casually in the show – but being promoted so openly on billboards and magazines and websites right around the world – has made it “a beacon for L.G.B.T.Q. viewers”.
In a documentary about the making of the show, Noah Reid reads a letter to his castmates from over 1500 mums of LGBTQI kids, thanking them for making a show that made the world kinder and more accepting for their children.
If that doesn’t bring you to tears I fear for your humanity. It’s made more poignant hearing Dan Levy interviewed elsewhere on his own coming out – even with the unconditional love and support of his family – it’s evident he doesn’t just know the pain homophobia inflicts. He’s felt it.
But rather than accept it, he flipped it and created a critically acclaimed TV show that is unapologetically agnostic about sexuality and captures “the unexpected joy of being seen”.
(Also if you can read the tweet that Dan’s mother posted the night the series finale aired without collapsing in a puddle of emotion I suspect you’re missing a heart.)
The show started small in 2015, steadily gathering followers in Canada from its inception but grew exponentially with each season that passed. Upon hitting Netflix in 2017 it quickly gathered cult status globally.
It attracted its first Emmy nominations last year for its fifth season. But the series finale, season six, aired earlier this year and swept the Emmy nominations announced on Tuesday, receiving 15 nods including for Best Comedy Series, Best Actor & Best Actress in a Comedy, Best Supporting Actor & Actress in a Comedy Series, Best Writing & Best Directing.
It’s a record for a show in its final season and is some vindication for the inexplicable manner in which this show has affected me. It also, finally, provided a legitimate excuse to put my love for this show into words.
It is simply the best television ever made.