Dan attended the American Music Awards where he presented and gave Taylor Swift an award. He attended the event with his sister, Sarah Levy (Twyla on Schitt’s Creek). Both looked lovely at the event! Enjoy the photos.
Dan Levy Cried Over the End of Schitt’s Creek (and You Will Too)
With the last season of Schitt’s Creek upon us, we talked to creator and star Dan Levy about saying goodbye, that “Simply the Best” scene, and taking off David Rose’s shoes one last time.
Dan Levy can’t recall exactly how long it took, but it was months, not days. He’d been patiently scouring eBay, biding his time, before he finally found the exact Helmut Lang hoodie, in his size, that had lived in his brain like a virus since before Schitt’s Creek even premiered.
I’m sitting on a pleasantly plush sofa, overlooking the quiet neighborhood in which Levy has made his Los Angeles home, as he tries to explain to me why this extremely specific sartorial choice was so important to him. “I felt like it was so something that David Rose would need,” he says. As the person who both created and played David for five seasons on Schitt’s Creek, with the sixth and final season on the horizon, Levy should know. And so he looked and looked until he finally found it—and then one day there it was on the screen, all black and with plumage, saying a whole lot about David Rose’s personality without saying a word.
We’ve known each other for all of 15 minutes, but it is already very clear to me that Dan Levy is not the kind of person who does anything accidentally. He has similarly high and exacting standards for the products he uses in his own life, which hinges on the self-sufficiency that has made him one of TV’s most self-possessed rising stars. Even this interview—originally scheduled for dinner at a nearby restaurant—was moved to Levy’s home so he could be around to sign for a package.
When we meet, Levy is at the end of a long day spent in the editing bay, working on the final cuts of the final episodes of Schitt’s Creek. Tomorrow, he’ll hop on a plane to begin the next leg of the Schitt’s Creek tour: a live, extended celebration of the series, performed in sold-out theaters full of adoring fans. “It’s like campaigning,” he says, smiling and raising his thick eyebrows over his glasses, “with a lot less at stake.”
But now—for a couple of hours, at least—Dan Levy is looking backward, not forward. Over a glass of Chardonnay in his stylish-but-cozy living room, Levy went deep on a few of his favorite things, and reflected on the remarkable rise of Schitt’s Creek and the characters and choices that have turned it into the feel-good TV show of these feel-bad times.
GQ: Schitt’s Creek premiered in 2015. That’s a fairly long time ago—but even after five seasons, it feels like the show is still picking up steam. Season five earned Schitt’s Creek’s best-ever reviews and its first Emmy nominations. As someone on the inside, do you have a sense of why and how the show keeps growing every year?
Dan Levy: I don’t know how it happened. I think inherently, the structure of the show always lent itself to: the more you watch, the more you’ll care. It was always our intention that you grow along with the family. That the first season presents people in a very superficial light—and season after season, if we were given the opportunity, we would peel back the layers on these people.
By the end of season two, we had the first time [the Rose family says] “I love you” to each other in the barn—which was really the potential end of the series. And also the beginning. You can’t just turn people on a dime. The show itself was a slow burn, and fortunately we had the sort of runway to let it breathe and let the audience grow. It took 26 episodes to earn that.
As a creator, writer, director, and star on Schitt’s Creek, what has it been like living through a year that’s essentially a series of professional goodbyes?
We had to say so many goodbyes. We said goodbye to our sets. We said goodbye to certain characters that didn’t come with us on location. It was just a lot of goodbyes. It did get to a point where I had to tell the team, “We can’t be acknowledging all the lasts, because it’s going to ruin me.” We can’t say, “Well, this is the last time Dan picks up a pen,” because I’ll cry, and I don’t want to cry over having picked up a pen. It’s not worth the tears.
I obviously don’t want you to spoil anything—but on a personal level, how was the last day of shooting?
It was really, really hard. The last day of shooting was the most emotional day I think I’ve ever had in my life. I cried for, I want to say, five straight hours, to the point where I had a splitting headache and didn’t know what to do with my life. I wept when I took David’s shoes off. I will never wear those shoes again—nor do I want to—but I was very sad to take them off.
As you’ve gone through the process of writing and shooting and editing the final season over the past year, have you ever thought, Shit, I wish we had a season seven after all?
No. I wasn’t ready to go, but the story was set up to be finished. I wish there was more story to tell, because I would love to do this forever—but respecting the characters and respecting the quality of the storytelling, it just felt like, “This is it.” I had intended to end it in season five, and then we got picked up for two seasons. And I thought, Okay, well…now I can spend 28 episodes instead of 14 building the last couple chapters of this series. The minute I knew that was the minute I started writing to the end.
Let’s go way back. You originally pitched Schitt’s Creek to premium channels like HBO and Showtime. How much has the show changed from your initial concept to what it is now?
Completely different. I don’t think we knew what it was back then. It was a 14-minute pilot that we shot for no money. The characters were kind of different. It really wasn’t until we got the first season pick-up, and we sat in that writers’ room and figured out what is this show about. That’s when the show came to life.
A clear turning point, for both the show and for your character specifically, was when Patrick came into the series. When he was introduced, you didn’t know for sure that he would ultimately turn out to be David’s lifelong partner, right?
I went into it with the hope that he would become a romantic love interest for David. I knew [actor Noah Reid, who plays Patrick] socially—but I had never acted with him, so I didn’t know what our chemistry would be like. I didn’t have time to go to his audition and run the scenes with him. That’s why the end of season three ends the way it does, with the kiss in the car. A kiss could lead to more, or it could lead to nothing.
In the context of TV history, one thing that’s particularly striking about David and Patrick’s relationship is that the highs and lows aren’t really any different than those that might be faced by a heterosexual couple. Schitt’s Creek is very consciously—and, at this point, very famously—a town in which homophobia and other kinds of bigotry just…don’t exist.
In a way, I wrote it as a response to my own growing up: trying to see myself on television, and really not seeing gay characters represented casually. Every time there was a gay character, it was the butt of a joke, or they were a caricature, or they were in trouble, or they were killed. All of that is representing different elements of the culture—but I never saw a gay character just fall in love, and have it be okay, and become a better person for it.
So it was a very simple choice that I made. But one that I had no idea would affect a kind of ripple. That people would respond in the way that they have. I’ve had letters from people who found the show while they were contemplating suicide. I’ve had people who were kicked out of their homes because they were queer, and the show was a family for them when they didn’t have one. There were people whose parents watched the show and changed their understanding or perception of who their children were because they saw parents on the show accepting their kids—and as a result, they accepted their children. You really don’t expect that when you go set out to write a comedy.
Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been a bit busy. I’ve added all the missing photos of Dan from recent public appearances and photo sessions. Enjoy!
September 21 – Showtime Emmy Eve Nominees Celebrations
September 22 – Backstage Creations Giving Suite At The Emmy Awards
September 22 – Emmy Awards
September 28 – GLAAD Gala San Francisco
September 28 – GLAAD Gala San Francisco: Inside
Photo Session #011
Photo Session #009
Photo Session #005 – recent additions
2019 – TV Guide: Behind the Scenes
Ew, David! Dan Levy Is Our Fashion Issue Cover Star
For his first Out cover, Levy talks the end of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ — and what’s next.
Dan Levy knows, perhaps a little too well, that all good things must come to an end. Barely one year after Schitt’s Creek — the show he created, produced, wrote, and starred in — became an international phenomenon, Levy resolved to bring the series to its finale. “We’ve decided season six will be our last,” he wrote in a letter addressed to “Our Dear Fans,” which was published via social media. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow. We could never have dreamed that our fans would grow to love and care about these characters in the ways that you have.”
Although it was a brave and lauded creative decision — ending a series at its height versus waiting for it to fade, episode after episode — the gravity of it didn’t really sink in until one evening on set, when the last “Cut!” was announced. While everyone began to pack up and head out, Levy, who had been running on 11 total hours of sleep over the past six days of filming, finally allowed himself to realize what was happening. “I was just reveling in every single moment,” he says. “When I went to bed every night, I did so knowing that I was savoring every last drop of this experience.”
After the sets had mostly emptied, Levy began to wander through the universe he built — with the help of his father — some seven years ago. Starting with the motel rooms where the Rose family landed, indignant, after their unceremonious fall from wealth, he took in everything from the rickety beds to Moira Rose’s famous wall of wigs. He revisited the check-in desk of the Rosebud Motel, where his character, David, once flirted mischievously with Stevie (played by Emily Hampshire), and the Café Tropical diner, where Twyla (played by his sister, Sarah Levy) served as an open ear for the endearingly self-absorbed Alexis (Annie Murphy).
After concluding his lap around the set, Levy re-entered the Rose’s motel room for the last time. There, he found his onscreen sister, Murphy, having her own final moment with the place their characters would learn to lovingly (if begrudgingly) call home. They locked eyes, and wordlessly, hugged each other tightly as the tears came. There was no “Ew, David” to be heard.
For now, though, the sadness around the show’s ending has mostly subsided, thanks to some welcome distractions. The final season of Schitt’s will air in 2020, and Levy is still very much immersed in the Rose family’s antics. “I’m currently editing the third episode,” he says over the phone. “But by the time I get to 11, 12, or 13, I think I’ll be feeling it again in a big way.”
This month, for the first time, Levy and the Schitt’s team will head to the Emmys, where they’re nominated in four categories — including Best Comedy Series, Lead Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series (for Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, respectively), and Outstanding Contemporary Costumes. “It’s surreal,” Levy says of the honor. “A show this small — if we were to just lay out the ingredients — should never have ended up at the Emmys. It’s an impossibility! The fact that we somehow got there and were the dark horse on all these lists and surpassed all these different shows? It doesn’t make any sense.”
It’s hard to say whether or not Levy, who exudes a distinctly Canadian niceness, is simply being humble here or totally sincere. Either way, what’s easier to say is that, on this topic, he’s completely wrong. Schitt’s Creek always had the ingredients of a truly fantastic, award-winning show. It just took the rest of us to catch up to its genius.
Eugene Levy insists he never knew his children wanted to follow in his career footsteps. “It’s not something I would’ve encouraged,” he says, admitting, “It’s not the easiest way to make a living.”
A younger Daniel Levy didn’t always make his ambitions known — in fact, he may have conveyed the opposite intentions during his teenage years. “As a kid, he never liked the idea that I would be recognized or that people would come up to me on the street,” his father says. “So if we were walking together, he’d always walk up ahead of the family.”
As Levy grew older and more interested in things like school plays or productions, his father would ask if he needed assistance, like running lines or words of wisdom. “It was always, ‘I got it. No, that’s fine, thanks. But I got it.’” While there’s a common belief that proximity to the spotlight comes with its perks and privileges, Levy never really wanted anything to do with it. “Growing up, once I started to realize that I enjoyed acting, I knew that when people heard I was my dad’s son, there was an impulse to compare us or even write me off,” he says.
“I always told myself that if I were ever to work with my dad or approach him about help, I’d want to be completely confident and very sure that the idea I would bring to him — considering I respect him so much — was one of quality. It came down to just being confident in what I could bring to the table.”
About a year before he was due to graduate college, Levy was approached by MTV for a spot on its new daily show, MTV Live. “It was one of those opportunities where I could always go back to school, but I didn’t know if I’d always have the opportunity to be a host on MTV at the age of 20,” he says. So, he dropped out and dove headfirst into the entertainment business. All the while, he made sure the name he was making for himself was distinctly his own: It would be five years before Levy would feel comfortable enough in his abilities to publicly acknowledge his father.
But even with the MTV job — and the TV and film gigs that would eventually accompany it — Levy still felt like he hadn’t reached his true potential. “A lot of it, for me, goes back to Oprah,” he says. “Watching what she was able to do with her platform, and how she was able to turn daytime TV into focusing on the good, inspirational stories that changed conversations and inspired us made me ask myself, ‘How do you do something like that? You’ll never be Oprah. But what can you possibly do in your life that can service the greater good?’”
The answer, of course, came to him while watching reality television, where a novel thought popped into his head: “What would happen if one of these wealthy families would lose everything? Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians?”
Finally, for what Eugene Levy says was the first time in his life, his son Daniel asked him for help.
The most crucial part of Schitt’s Creek’s genius came in the form of “character work,” an exhaustive process inspired by Eugene Levy’s collaborations with the director Christopher Guest, who inspired vibrant (and hilarious) performances in his mockumentaries Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman. “We spent probably two weeks writing out the biographies of each and every one of the characters,” says the younger Levy. “That was one of the greatest gifts my dad gave me, because I really wanted to just write it, and he was the one who said that we needed to take the time to figure out who the people are first, and that the writing was last, the icing on the cake.”
The duo created timelines dating all the way back to their characters’ elementary and middle school years, detailing everything from where they worked to what perfume they wore at which point in their lives. “Once we understood who they were, that’s when we had the freedom to push them to their limits, and knew how to bring out their best and worst,” Levy says.
Levy’s favorite part of character work, though, was inspired by one of his very favorite television shows: Sex and the City. “I looked at how Patricia Field played with clothes in that show,” he explains. “For us, I don’t want the characters to constantly have to tell the audience, ‘We used to be rich.’ So the most effective device we had sometimes was their wardrobe — it’s a constant reminder they came from money.”
The best illustration of this is probably the outlandish wardrobe of Moira Rose, whose fascinators, shoes, and purses often look hilariously (if fabulously) out of place. Levy has personally taken it upon himself to track down numerous standout pieces for his characters, including a pair of penguin-like boots by Balenciaga, a “spine heel” by DSquared2, and a pink strapless dress from Raf Simons’ final collection for Jil Sander, which Alexis wore in the series premiere.
After the character work was mostly settled, Levy put the icing on the cake — as in, he wrote the script — and the show’s first season premiered on the CBC in Canada on January 13, 2015 (and later, on Pop TV in America). Once the reviews hit, Levy’s worst fear (being compared unfavorably to his father) seemed to come true: Variety called the show a “slapdash exercise that can give nepotism a bad name,” while The New York Times went further, saying he didn’t “appear to have inherited any of his father’s comic acting abilities.”
Unfazed, Schitt’s Creek garnered an impressive audience, exhibiting growth season after season — and, according to Vulture, the show saw “its linear ratings more than double and its overall audience soar past 3 million viewers.” But there are two things that put the small town of Schitt’s Creek on the map in a big way for American audiences.
First is purely a data game: Schitt’s debuted on Netflix in 2017 and, while the streaming service famously doesn’t give out audience numbers, anyone who logged onto social media in its aftermath could’ve sensed its impact. What Netflix lacks in transparent data can be seen in casual conversation: Schitt’s Creek became the little-known sitcom that everyone was talking about.
“Whenever the season drops [on Netflix], it feels like we’ve just relaunched. We see a lot of social media activity,” Levy told Vulture.
Second, though, is something that’s a lot nearer and dearer to audiences’ hearts: the romantic storyline shared between David and Patrick (Noah Reid). Instead of the comedy using these two gay characters as their punchline (which is all too common), Levy intentionally made Schitt’s Creek a town without homophobia, thus turning the trope of the “small-minded small-town folks” on its head.
“From day one, the town was going to be an oasis in terms of acceptance and love,” Levy says. “What we didn’t want was for the small town to be the butt of the joke — we wanted the joke to be on the Rose family, and how they learn by watching this town that’s high-functioning, loving, confident, secure, and accepting.”
So when Patrick arrives as a sort of small-town Prince Charming, an extra layer of sentimentality was added to Schitt’s Creek. There was one storyline in season four that tugged at the heartstrings of audiences everywhere, prompting headlines, analyses, and rave reviews the very morning after it aired. (TV Guide would call it “the most romantic scene on television.”) The scene itself was relatively simple — in fact, we’ve watched versions of it dozens of times, only portrayed by heterosexual characters. During an open mic night, Patrick takes the stage and, in front of the entire town, begins to serenade David with an acoustic version of Tina Turner’s “The Best.” The camera alternates between the two of them, locking eyes adoringly, as their loved ones look on.
“There’s a moment in that scene where Catherine, as Moira, caught up in the moment, reaches out and grabs my arm,” Levy recalls. “That was a choice she made that I wish I’d scripted, because it could bring me to tears thinking about it right now. Just the physical touch and support of a parent to their queer child in a moment of such vulnerability — it spoke volumes to me in terms of what this show is about and what we wanted it to stand for.”
Later on in the series, Patrick’s parents come to town, and the Roses quickly realize that they are unaware of his being gay (or his relationship with David). The characters’ subsequent tiptoeing around Patrick’s sexual orientation delivers quite the comedy Schitt’s is known for, but the episode ultimately ends in a touching coming-out scene. “You are the only thing in the world that matters to us,” his mother says, grabbing Patrick’s hands in hers. “And if David makes you happy, then that’s all we care about.”
Levy’s own coming out was, he admits, slightly less climactic than the one he wrote for television. One day when they were out to lunch together, his mom casually popped the question: Are you gay? Relieved, he answered in the affirmative, his family was then told, and that was that. “In retrospect, I was just waiting for her to ask, because I really don’t know whether or not I would’ve had the strength to do it on my own. I’m grateful to her for that.”
Still, Patrick’s coming out was, he says, “the most difficult episode” he’s ever written. “My hope was that if other parents saw how love-filled that moment could be, that might inspire them to do the same thing.”
Dan was in attendance yesterday at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF). I’ve added photos to the gallery. He looked so dapper as usual. Enjoy!
Sorry for the lack of updates. I’ve taken time and updated the gallery with hundreds of missing photos from recent public appearances, magazine scans, and photo sessions. Enjoy all the pretties and be sure to visit Annie Murphy Fan for new photos of Annie.
2019 – Entertainment Weekly
Photo Session #003 – recent additions
Photo Session #005
Photo Session #006
Photo Session #007
2019: Vanity Fair: Behind the Scenes
June 15 – MTV Awards
June 15 – MTV Awards: Ceremony
June 10 – NBA Finals
May 30 – For Your Consideration “Schitt’s Creek” Event
May 25 – Up Close and Personal with “Schitt’s Creek”
May 25 – Up Close and Personal with “Schitt’s Creek”: Panel
May 19 – EEEEEatscon
May 19 – EEEEEatscon: Panel
March 30 – Canadian Screen Awards – recent additions
March 27 – Canadian Screen Awards Gala – recent additions
For Dan Levy, the End Is Just the Beginning
Dan Levy is morbidly afraid of bees. Hates them. He had a terrible run in with one when it went down his sweater during a day of shooting on his breakout Canadian sitcom, Schitt’s Creek. And yet, as he prepares to moderate the first of two sold-out nights of Schitt’s Creek’s Up Close and Personal Tour in February at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, he kind of looks like a bee. Fast and buzzing and sporting thick, dark-rimmed glasses that magnify the size of his eyes. On the chance you catch him standing still, you’d notice a fist-sized bee on his blue cardigan sweater, embroidered across his heart. The sweater choice could be a coincidence, but after spending two hours at lunch with Levy a few days before, it’s hard not to believe it’s on purpose. He likes to face the things that scare him. He has a strategy for overcoming them.
I’m standing in the corner of a tiny green room with the entire cast of Schitt’s Creek. It’s so small that it looks like a miniature motel room—a perfect setting to observe the actors who play a once-wealthy family, now living out of a motel. But while Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy’s wife exchange stories, I can’t stop watching the younger Levy. The lifespan of most primetime sitcoms is a lot like a bee’s lifespan—short, frenzied, and fleeting. And whether anyone else in the room knows it yet, this sitcom is nearing its final act; a month later, on March 21, Levy will announce the next season, its sixth, would be its last. Thinking back on our lunch, I almost feel like Levy was hinting at it. “I’m excited for what’s to come, but I also care so deeply about this show, and I think so many times showrunners will set up a show and jump ship to work on something else,” he says. “I couldn’t imagine doing that with this show.”
But the reality is that Levy’s greatest creation yet is ending on his own terms. And while 3,000 people are downstairs waiting in feathered hats, screaming “Simply the best!” at nothing in particular, this tour is a way of him introducing himself to the world. They already know David Rose. They love David and Alexis and Johnny and Moira. (God, do they love Moira.) But they don’t know Dan. Not yet. And he’s the one worth knowing. After all, he’s the one who invented this world, and he’ll be the one still around after it’s over.
Of course, the world in question is that of the small town of Schitt’s Creek. The Rose family, fresh from financial ruin, has relocated to the town the family’s patriarch, Johnny, once bought for his son as a joke. Over the course of five seasons, the Rose family has not only adapted to the town and the two room motel-suite they call home, but in a way they’ve thrived. It’s in Schitt’s Creek that they’ve learned to love each other and the people around them—people they never would have interacted with otherwise. And now at the end of Season Five, two of the Roses seem to be settling down in the town, despite the desperate urge to escape a few dozen episodes ago.
The decision to say goodbye to the series is bittersweet. While other shows begin to wane around Season Five, Schitt’s Creek is an anomaly. The series garnered its first Critics Choice nomination in 2018, and its arrival on Netflix has bolstered its fanbase to cult-like status. But like in the opening scene, when the government repossessed most of the Rose family’s possessions, nothing lasts forever—neither wealth nor sitcoms. You pack up what you’ve learned (along with your best wigs), embrace your fear, and move on.
A couple of days before the Beacon Theatre show, Levy meets me for lunch in something a bit more casual: a gray sweatshirt, and the same signature dark-rimmed glasses. He’d been writing something, but he can’t say what. Actually, there’s a few things he can’t talk about when we first sit down. He hints at “A Little Bit Alexis” and big plot points to come as Season Five comes to an end, but the big thing he can’t discuss is the series finale of Schitt’s Creek ahead of its sixth and final season. “I think, in a way, I know how it ends,” Levy says. “I’ve known for a long time.” But for now, that’s all he’s ready to reveal.
In an era when there’s more television available than one person could ever digest, Levy’s perfectly podunk town managed to break out of the pack. On an emotional level, it’s likely because Schitt’s Creek feeds a craving that’s poorly served on television right now. “There needs to be some kind of correspondence between the clouds that are hanging over us over these past few years and people’s desires to find and surround themselves with joy,” Levy says. “I think what sitcoms have provided for people is consistency and a place where they can spend half an hour and just turn off.”
But Levy’s first self-made television project isn’t just a sitcom. It’s also a bit of a perfect storm. In the United States, Schitt’s Creek airs on Pop, a small but stable home for the series. Pop (and its Canadian home on CBC) allows Levy the freedom to create a microcosm in which pansexual David Rose can date and exchange affection with another man and no one bats an eye. It’s idyllic, and it features the kind of gestures that typically aren’t on display on networks like NBC or CBS. Prejudice seemingly doesn’t exist in Schitt’s Creek. “To be able to present a love story that’s without fear of consequence was something that I wanted from the very beginning,” Levy says before pausing to collect this thoughts. “Something that I never wanted to compromise on.”
Levy sees Schitt’s Creek as an opportunity to show something on television he didn’t see growing up. “Some of the time, I think bigotry comes from fear of things that people don’t see,” he says. “I think as human beings… people don’t process fear well.” Levy incorporated people of all types into the landscape of Schitt’s Creek, but instead of approaching it like shows that throw in a token black character or give another character The Gay Storyline, he folded it into the show’s core. He normalized the elephant in the room, and from his vantage point, it’s only been for the best. “Conversations are being created in the home,” Levy says with a smile, “because parents and their [children] are watching this show and loving these characters together.”
The opportunity to do something bigger has always been on Levy’s mind. He’s a theater kid at his core and has no problem working hard, but writing a television show wasn’t particularly how he thought he’d do it. As he grew up, his mother had her cards read three times and told Levy that he was going to find success in writing one day. He wasn’t convinced. “Even when I was at MTV hosting—which I hated, it never felt comfortable,” Levy admits of his time at MTV Canada, first appearing on MTV Live and then on after-shows for series like The Hills and The City. “But it was a job, and I was going to do my best. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, Writing is still not a thing that I would ever do for a living.”
Zoom forward a few years; Levy had left his job at MTV and wasn’t landing any of his auditions. At that point, he was convinced that if hosting wasn’t the right thing (even though it did lead to meeting and interviewing Kelly Clarkson), something else had to be. “I think I’ve always been someone who has worked really hard at manifesting ideas,” Levy says between bites. “Good and bad. Successful and, you know, not so.” Instead of sticking with the hustle, he changed the rules. “If I’m terrible at auditioning, at least I can write something to my own strengths and try my best at whatever that is.” Turned out he was pretty damn good at that.
That hustling comes in part from having parents who were determined not to let a privileged life go to Levy’s head. His father Eugene is the prolific comedian known for his work on SCTV and a number of Christopher Guest films along with co-star Catherine O’Hara, who plays the Rose family matriarch. But that wasn’t a world in which Levy was ingrained too deeply. While he has anecdotes about growing up with family friends Martin Short and O’Hara nearby, he also recalls his parents dropping him off in front of a GAP Kids at 15-years-old, saying, “Don’t come home until you have a job application in your hand.”
Levy took that message to heart. He credits his mom with keeping him and his sister, Sarah, grounded through the years. “I think what my mom’s big message through all of that was was, ‘I don’t want to take away the joy of earning something yourself.’” That’s why Schitt’s Creek has been so personal to Levy. Sure, he could have ridden his father’s coattails, but the CBC show is ultimately one founded in equal parts determination, love, and necessity. The connection to Eugene and his close friendship to O’Hara is a bonus, but Schitt’s Creek is fully a Levy manifestation.
Eugene says that early on he’d give feedback and even tried his hand at directing. Ultimately, he admits that his son is the lynchpin of the series. “You don’t always get to spend this much time with your adult kids in any other profession,” Eugene says, before pausing in the same fashion his son is prone to. “You see them maybe once a month? Every few weeks? So this is kind of neat. Cherish every moment because one day, it won’t be happening.”
That ending is sooner than fans hoped it would be. As we finish lunch, I suggest that perhaps Schitt’s Creek didn’t have to end, but Dan promptly noted that there is a definitive ending, arguing, “Moira will never fully feel like this is her home.” But that doesn’t mean that everyone is jetting out of Schitt’s Creek in the next season. Though the series finale announcement seems sudden, Dan isn’t the kind of showrunner who is going to make a knee-jerk decision about a series he’s invested so much in: “I stand behind the idea of never taking advantage of the audience you’ve built and putting 110 percent into the show until you’re finished.”
But Levy’s role as showrunner is a taxing one. He touches everything: the scripts, the wardrobe (Jocelyn’s iconic Season Five cat sweaters are made in-house, if you were curious), the final takes. Each season takes about thirteen months to create. “We’re editing the show longer than we’re shooting the show,” Levy explains. “And it’s because every look, every cut, every glance when you’re weeding through takes and takes and takes to get the right moment is important.”
And all of those moments are being seen by a lot of people now—a lot more than Levy anticipated when the show started. In 2017, three seasons into the show’s run, Schitt’s Creek landed on Netflix. That helped the reach of the show expand, and an unofficial word-of-mouth campaign commenced. Schitt’s Creek was suddenly the show that you didn’t know you needed to watch. And it feels perfectly timed. As the sociopolitical climate feels more splintered than ever, television viewers are gravitating toward shows that shine a more optimistic light on the world.
“I felt like there was this wave of comedy that was really mean-spirited for a while,” says Levy. “I never responded to that. It’s a lot more challenging to make well-intentioned comedy.” Over the course of five seasons, Levy has created a world where a wealthy family of four faced their lowest bottom, only to rise and thrive in the small town they once bought as a joke. At the end of this season, Alexis is in a loving relationship and David is engaged to his business partner, and there really is something that feels like the show is coming to a natural conclusion after all. When Levy started this show, the Rose family was barely human. They didn’t understand how the rest of the world worked or what it was like to fear or perhaps even love, but they’ve evolved into something greater over 62 episodes. Something that gives you hope for people around the world who don’t look or think like you.
“The audience has been with these characters now through the ups and down,” Levy explains. “We’re now able to let them in and show them the cracks in the veneer. Because we’ve all pulled through this together.” And that’s a bit what this tour was about. The cast of Schitt’s Creek hit the road to meet fans in person and give them a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.
Back upstairs in that tiny green room, Dan appears one more time. This time he notices me in the corner and talks to me a bit about how he hosted a talk a few days before with Amy Sedaris, a hero of his. The way he gets excited while recapping their time together is the core of who he is. It’s contagious. That energy is similar to how each of the cast members speak with one another. It’s the same energy that erupts from the room of 3,000 people when each actor walks out on the stage. The reaction isn’t quite fanaticism or excitement—I would say it’s more complex than that. As cliche as it sounds, I think the best word for it is love. Dan Levy has created a show about love, and it permeates in every facet.
That humanity is what drives the narrative of Schitt’s Creek and the way Levy conducts business on set. Everyone matters, and as long as you’re leading with a bit of humanity, everything will be okay. Fear and sadness and triumphs come and go. And everything that begins eventually has to end. Wearing a bee on your sweater doesn’t mean you’re magically not afraid of bees. It just means that something you love had outweighed the thing you fear. And if you have that, then the fear—the bees and the unknown and the loss of your family fortune—is just a moment in time.
The cast of Schitt’s Creek was in attendance at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. Check out photos and video of the cast at the event. Congrats to the series and cast for their nominations and winnings.
I’ve added HD screencaps from last night/today’s episode of Schitt’s Creek to the gallery. Enjoy!
Last night were the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. Schitt’s Creek had many nominations. Unfortunately Dan did not win any nominations (totally snubbed!). The entire cast looked a m a z i n g at the award show last night. Dan did not take photos with them on the red carpet but you can see photos of the cast at my other fansite, Annie Murphy Fan. Enjoy!