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!
I’ve added HD screencaps and stills of the last 3 episodes of Schitt’s Creek that were missing in the gallery bringing our gallery up to date until this week’s episode. Sorry for the delay. Big thanks to my friend Milane for her help. enjoy!
The cult comedy will air its final season in 2020.
Schitt’s Creek will have its last laugh in 2020.
Pop and the CBC have renewed the show for a sixth season, but creators Daniel and Eugene Levy say it will be the final run for the cult comedy.
The 14-episode season will begin filming in a few weeks and is set to air sometime next year. The creators said they’re happy to end the story on their terms: “We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” Daniel and Eugene Levy said.
“Schitt’s Creek is that rare zeitgeist show that creates incredible fandom, catalyzes culture and receives best-of-television critical praise for its intelligence, character development, laughter and heart,” said Brad Schwartz, president of CBS-owned Pop. “Schitt’s Creek has given all of us a joyous gift that, in my opinion, places the show among the very best. Everyone at Pop could not be more proud than to have been associated with what Dan Levy and Eugene Levy created alongside this amazing cast and crew. While we will miss this gem with all our heart, we are thrilled that the show will end its run exactly as the show’s creators intended.”
Originally commissioned by the CBC, Schitt’s Creek became a signature show for Pop. The current season, which concludes in April, draws about 200,000 viewers for initial airings, well above the cable net’s primetime average.
The show’s cast includes Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy, Chris Elliott, Emily Hampshire, Jennifer Robertson, Noah Reid, Dustin Milligan, Sarah Levy and Karen Robinson. Daniel and Eugene Levy executive produce with Andrew Barnsley, Fred Levy, David West Read and Ben Feigin.
The creators’ full message about the final season is below.
To Our Dear Fans,
We are very excited to announce that Schitt’s Creek is coming back for a sixth season on CBC and Pop in 2020! We also wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that we’ve decided season six will be our last. We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning. 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.
We are all so excited to begin shooting these last fourteen episodes and can’t thank you enough for the overwhelming love and generosity you’ve shown us. We hope you continue to enjoy the rest of our fifth season as we prepare to shoot our sixth!
Best Wishes and Warmest Regards,
Dan and Eugene Levy
I am personally super sad about this news. This series has meant SO much to me. It has helped me through some difficult times. I am personally grateful to Dan and Eugene for creating this gem and introducing a wonderful set of characters and talented cast to play them. If it were not for this series I would not have been introduced to the body of work of so many talented actors. Thank you! I’m excited to see what the future holds for the entire cast as I truly believe they are all talented and amazing. This fansite will not be closing with the ending of the series and will continue to support Dan in his future endeavors.
The co-creator of one of the best shows broadcasting today is rewriting the rules of queerness on television.
Few TV shows have arrived as confidently as Schitt’s Creek did when it premiered four years ago; after all, the pilot took under two minutes to introduce its four main characters in instantly striking ways. We open in a palatial estate, where members of the filthy rich Rose family are reacting to news they’ve been defrauded by their business manager and left with nothing. Well, except the titular town, which Rose patriarch Johnny bought for his son as a joke birthday present years before. Immediately, there’s Moira (standout Catherina O’Hara), wailing to her husband about how she’s been “stripped of every morsel of pleasure I earned in this life.” In reply, her husband Johnny (Eugene Levy) complains about the shady business manager that landed his family in this mess. Nearby, their daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy) alights from a stately staircase while desperately trying to get the boyfriend she’s on the phone with to step out of the club he’s in and listen to her problems. And by the door, her brother David boldly berates a government official, calling him a “sick person” that “wants to get paid to destroy another person’s life.”
Dan Levy, who plays David and co-created the show alongside his father and co-star Eugene, is far less confrontational than his character, but no less animated. When I meet him in January for a late lunch at a sparsely populated restaurant in Rockefeller Center, the 35-year-old is upbeat and personable, despite the packed schedule he’d been navigating for the previous few days while doing press for the show’s fifth season.
The entire process is somewhat new to the actor, since Schitt’s Creek kept a relatively low profile in its earlier seasons. But as the show’s popularity has grown — with critics now hailing it as “the funniest show on TV right now,” a “gem of a sitcom,” and an “amiable and deliriously funny series” — so has Levy’s. After serving as the official showrunner for four seasons, he’s become a celebrity in his own right. Yet in midtown, as he makes his way through a grilled chicken caesar salad and a Diet Coke, Levy doesn’t appear to exhibit any of those expected pretenses; he’s quite laid-back and surprisingly gregarious, eager to talk about the little show he made which blossomed into something much bigger than he could have ever imagined.
Before Schitt’s Creek, Levy says he spent some time “figuring it out.” Growing up as the son of a comedy legend, it was nearly a given that he would do theater in high school. But when he graduated and actually tried to pursue acting as a career, Levy was held back by the nervousness he routinely felt at auditions. “As you can imagine, that was quite awkward for me as an actor,” he jokes. Instead, he landed at MTV Canada, where he cut his teeth recapping The Hills on the popular The After Show. That experience, he says, was where the idea for Schitt’s Creek was planted. “I was fascinated by these people who were raised around so much wealth,” he tells me. “And I wanted to know what it would be like if someone like that were to lose everything.”
He eventually took that inkling of an idea to his dad, and together, they fleshed it out into the show it is today. In the earliest stages, Levy recalls looking at “sexy and stylish” series like Sex and the City for inspiration, which ultimately lead to his decision to build each character around a distinct style that mirrors their personality type. Artsy David would be into neutral tones and architectural Rick Owens; business-minded Johnny would always wear classic tailored suits; histrionic former soap star Moira would have a flair for the dramatic silhouettes of McQueen; and boho-chic Alexis would be ready to jet off to Coachella at a moment’s notice.
o this day, Dan still takes the lead on much of the show’s wardrobe. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of his job, he tells me, and it’s a good excuse to indulge his shameless shopping addiction. He sources most of the garments seen on the show online, perusing for new duds on designer resale apps like The RealReal and Grailed, but it’s clear that his sartorial eye is just as keen in person. Upon arriving to the restaurant, the first thing Dan does is compliment my sunglasses, which were sitting on the corner of the table. “Congratulations on those boots,” he told me as we left, pointing down at my footwear. The only apparent downside to his side gig as a personal shopper is that it can be difficult to stop himself from getting too out of control. “I just keep buying for future seasons,” he jokes. “If the show ends, I’m just going to have all these random Alexander McQueen pieces in my room! I’ll have to call up some of my friends and ask if they want to come buy some.”
Hopefully, we’ll never reach that point — at least not for a while, now that the show is finally getting the respect it deserves. Days before our lunch, Levy and his fellow cast members had experienced their first A-List red carpet event when they attended the Critics’ Choice Awards, where they were nominated for Best Comedy Series. “It’s so crazy to think that this little show was there amongst all these real celebrities,” he says, emphasizing the word real in a way that lets you know he still doesn’t understand just how famous he actually is — or does a good job pretending not to, at least. The performer says he was most excited to meet Jodie Comer, but in retrospect, he wonders if he maybe went overboard when he approached the Killing Eve actress to “fan out” and enthusiastically tell her how much he loved her.
Schitt’s Creek didn’t win that night. But it’s not difficult to imagine the show becoming a serious awards contender in the future, especially now that it’s established a real audience. Levy and the entire team are rooting particularly hard for Catherine O’Hara, whose indelible, no-holds-barred performance as Moira has rightfully inspired a few internet campaigns to get The Television Academy’s attention.
Yet it’s probably Levy himself who has galvanized the most fervent response from audiences. His character is one of the only pansexual men on TV today, and in the show’s currently-airing fifth season, his same-sex relationship with newly-out Patrick (Noah Reid) is one of the biggest ongoing plot points. As a gay man, he says it was always important to him to bring positive queer representation to his show — which is ironically why he had David sleep with a woman (sardonic motel owner Stevie) before he ever got with a man. “I did want to play with people’s expectations a bit,” he admits. “David is flamboyant and I knew people would assume he was gay, so I wanted to subvert that and show that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.”
Nevertheless, Levy is now fully invested in exploring the much-beloved relationship between David and Patrick, which he’s made a deliberate effort to ensure is not met with any homophobia in the titular small town. It’s what he would’ve done anyway, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s seen firsthand just how much their relationship means to the fans at home watching. When I ask about the response he’s received from the queer community, it’s the first time during our meal that he seems to get really emotional. “I got a letter recently that made me cry,” he begins, tearing up ever so slightly. “This woman wrote to me and told me that her son had just come out. She didn’t have a problem with it, but she was scared about what other people would think. She told me that my show made her feel a little more comfortable.”
It’s surprising how novel it seems to create a show where homophobia is just… not allowed to exist, but it’s comforting to see how normal it actually looks in practice. Just people being themselves without judgment: It’s all part of this world that Dan Levy was inspired to create after watching too many reruns of The Hills. Back then, he set out to create a show that uncovered what would happen when the self-obsessed wealthy wake up to find themselves penniless. If the series’ first five seasons have offered us any sort of answer, it’s that they will learn and grow, facing truths about themselves and their privilege that will only benefit them in the long run. They will form stronger bonds with themselves and with each other. Hell, they might even find true life-fulfilling happiness.
That is, as long as they find their way to Schitt’s Creek.
Schitt’s Creek airs Wednesdays at 10:00pm on Pop.
I’ve added screencaps and stills of Dan from the last 3 episodes of Schitt’s Creek. Sorry for the delay! I’m in the middle of moving so my time online is limited.
I am loving this season of Schitt’s Creek. How about you?
The Infatuation expands its annual EEEEEATSCON to two days, bringing together top restaurants, thought leaders, music and more at the Barker Hangar.
Festivals such as Coachella and San Francisco’s Outside Lands offer food lineups as exciting as the music, so it’s no surprise that culinary festivals are now looking beyond food to entice ticket sales. With a restaurant discovery platform like The Infatuation, known for its strong social media presence and huge millennial following — not to mention a $30 million investment from Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo — going beyond the norm is its driving force.
With EEEEEATSCON, the platform’s annual event named for its popular “eeeeeats” hashtag, The Infatuation CEO Chris Stang strives to create something beyond just another sip-and-stroll. Combining top names from the culinary world with innovators in music, entertainment and technology, this year’s event features Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina and writer-producer-actor Dan Levy of Schitt’s Creek as keynote speakers.
“They are two of the most exciting young talents in Hollywood, and we know that our community loves them,” Stang tells The Hollywood Reporter. “And we love the unique role that food has played in each of their lives, like Awkwafina’s upbringing in Queens, where her family owned a Cantonese restaurant, and Dan’s role as host on The Great Canadian Baking Show. Ultimately, EEEEEATSCON is at its best when we have great restaurants involved and great personalities who care about food as much as we do. That’s what we’ve got this year.”
In addition to the keynotes — Awkwafina speaks on Saturday, May 18, and Levy on Sunday, May 19 — the two-day event features panel discussions with thought leaders such as Everytable founder Sam Polk; Olympia Auset, founder of LA-based SUPRMARKT, an organic grocery service for low-income communities; Rick Ross from Delicious Pizza and hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl; and Crystal Ortiz, founder of Twice New Foundation.
Restaurants are still the headliners, with top names from L.A. and beyond, from the Nancy Silverton-backed Triple Beam Pizza to a collaboration with Shake Shack and Ludovic Lefebvre’s Petit Trois, plus Freedman’s, Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar, SLAB from the h.wood Group, and London’s The Beefsteak, the festival’s first international vendor, among others.
A new class of writers, performers and creators is redefining comedy—rejecting tired tropes and carving out space for fresh perspectives. From millennial social-media stars who’ve brought their internet fluency into traditional television writing rooms to stand-ups pushing the boundaries of the form, these comedians working across North America are shaping what it means to be funny in 2019.
Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek arrived on America’s obscure Pop TV in 2015 with a premise as silly as its name: After losing everything, a super-rich family must move to the titular small town, which they bought as a joke in the ’90s. Five seasons later, it’s a cult hit stateside, thanks to a vocal fanbase, Netflix word-of-mouth and its leads, comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. The cast has even been touring North America with a night of behind-the-scenes stories, music and a Schitt’s Creek trivia challenge. But the credit for the show’s warmth belongs mostly to Eugene’s 35-year-old son and co-creator Dan, who multitasks as showrunner, writer and star. His character, David — a mopey pansexual whose love life forms the show’s sweetest arc — is a fan favorite, embodying a casual fluidity that is true to millennial ideas about identity. Dan brings that same reflexive inclusivity to each episode, crafting a show whose sensibility is contemporary even as its kindness feels like the best kind of throwback.
– Source / Full List