Few people have been raised so immersed in the world of comedy as Dan Levy. As the son of actor-writer Eugene Levy (American Pie), he grew up in the shadows of his father and Levy’s hilarious collaborators, Christopher Guest and Catherine O’Hara. The three older actors, who appeared in numerous off-beat comedies, including Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, have gained a cult following over the years.
Now, the younger Levy is proudly carrying on that legacy while unapologetically tapping into queer experiences seldom revealed on the screen — big or small. The out gay actor from Toronto is the co-creator, executive producer, and writer of Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek, sharing those credits with his father.
The series, currently streaming on Netflix, centers on the wealthy Rose family who, after losing their fortune, are forced to rebuild their lives with their only remaining asset: a small Canadian town named Schitt’s Creek (which the patriarch bought as a joke).
The show made history when Levy’s character David came out as pansexual and started a courtship with Patrick (Noah Reid), his partner in the Rose Apothecary, which David opened in the town. Some viewers were surprised that the revelation of David’s sexuality created zero backlash from the mostly-conservative townsfolk of Schitt’s Creek. But Levy says he wouldn’t have it any other way, and he says the decision was a “silent form of protest.”
“A lot of queer relationships on television and in films are met with extreme tragedy,” Levy explains. (The “kill your gays” trope is a real phenomenon, unfortunately.) “The amount of response I got from the third season of our show where we first introduced the character of Patrick was like, ‘I really hope nothing bad happens to them.’ It was a very conscious effort on my part to not have that happen. In fact, it’s been a conscious effort to not ever show the other side on our television program. I have made a very strong point to not ever show bigotry, homophobia, or intolerance on our show because to me, it’s a celebration of love. At the root of it, [Schitt’s Creek] is a celebration of love between the family and between the relationships that we build.”
Historically speaking, queer narratives on TV tend to be met with bigoted antagonists crafted to teach audiences about the queer experience. Levy says he wants to change that, arguing that viewers “learn through osmosis. We learn through what we watch. I’ve never really learned anything when I feel like it’s being forced down my throat.”
“I know that in writer’s rooms across North America there are still conversations about how much is too much when it comes to intimacy between, in my case, two men,” he says. “That’s an insane conversation to be having. Like, ‘How many times can we show them kissing on air?’ We’re going to show them kissing as many times as we damn well please. They’re in a relationship. If I’m going to walk into a store that I own with my boyfriend, I’m going to kiss him hello. That’s what people do. That’s what straight couples do. That’s what this couple is going to do.”
Levy shares his father’s famous integrity in his writing, pointing out that their form of comedy is rooted in positivity rather than at the expense of someone else. “I’ve never really loved mean comedy,” Levy says. Although their brand of comedy doesn’t go for the jugular, he adds, “you can still be a cynic, you can still have an edge.” Levy’s acerbic character certainly expresses that on the show: he’s cynical and negative, but it’s clear he’s protecting a sensitive soul.
Though Levy’s parents were “incredibly loving and supportive” when he came out gay at 18, he’s well aware that’s not the case for many queer kids. That’s driven him to change the hearts and minds of fans by making sexuality a non-issue. Still, Levy says, “we’ve come a long way” from when show creators “categorized” queer characters to make us more digestible for straight viewers.
“People in the queer community have always sort of existed in a rather fluid world,” he concludes. Having David come out pansexual brings explicit visibility to that fluidity. “To not have to define yourself or categorize yourself, I think, is beneficial to everyone. I think the more we can understand that people just exist and that as long as we’re doing good in this world, we don’t need to bother or worry about defining or classifying people, the sooner we’ll be in a better place.”
Even if that place is called Schitt’s Creek.
Category: Schitts Creek
Schitt’s Creek has returned in Canada! The season 5 premieres on January 24th. I’ve added screencaps from the new episode as well as stills from it and next week’s episode. I won’t be posting any spoilers on here as the show airs differently on both countries. Enjoy!
It’s been a good year for “Schitt’s Creek,” a situation comedy about a formerly wealthy family living in a small-town motel. Its reputation and audience have continued to build with memes and GIFs and the old word-of-mouth, rising to a rapidly sold-out “up-close-and-personal” appearance in September at the Theater at Ace Hotel and another last month at the Hollywood Roosevelt. (A North American tour begins Jan. 20 in San Francisco.) New episodes of the Canadian-made show air in the U.S. first on the basic cable network Pop TV and later slide onto Netflix, where many latecoming converts doubtless have been made.
When the CBC series began, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, who play Johnny and Moira Rose — and whose work together goes back to “SCTV” and forward through a number of Christopher Guest films, including “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind” — were the main selling point. (Some will have come for Chris Elliott as mayor Roland Schitt.) But Eugene’s son, Dan Levy, who plays son David Rose and co-created the show with his father (and continues to run it) has emerged as a star in his own right, as have Annie Murphy as sister Alexis and Emily Hampshire as motel proprietress Stevie Budd.
They’ll all be present Wednesday, along with every other “Schitt’s” character of note, when Pop airs the series’ first holiday special, a beautifully wrapped package full of laughter and tears. Written and co-directed by Dan Levy, it’s built around a delicate, deeply felt performance by Eugene Levy, whose Johnny thinks it would be nice to have a Christmas party, as the specter of richer Christmas parties past troubles his mind. (It’s worth noting that Levy, in an episode very much about the meaning of family, is surrounded by his own — daughter Sarah Levy plays town waitress Twyla.) It gets right to the heart of what the show is about: To paraphrase another Canadian, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone and you realize that what you had wasn’t what you needed at all. Though, in “Schitt’s Creek” style, there is a sharp kicker to cut the sentiment.
I spoke with Dan Levy backstage before the Ace show about how far the series has come and where it’s going next. Season five begins Jan. 16 on Pop.
Your live show sold out in no time.
We’ve slowly but surely built a really loving fan base, and I think this last season, the fourth season of our show, was the most emotional and sensitive and tender. As a showrunner, I know you don’t just get that; you have to earn it.
Did knowing you had that fan support let you go that extra step?
In a way. I think it was also just looking at our cast and what they’ve proven they can do in terms of the brilliant duality of balancing of funny, funny content, funny lines, with emotional moments that can play just as true as the comedy does. It was always an intention to continue to pull back the layers. And like in any kind of relationship, the more you know about people, the more tender it gets, because you care more. I think this fourth season struck an emotional chord with people that in a way substantiated their belief in the show. Considering how our subject matter can be quite polarizing, we’ve received just the most overwhelmingly positive, joyful response. Say what you will about social media, but it has been wonderful in terms of our show.
Some of the most touching feedback I’ve received has been from right-wing, religious-based people who have never understood queer culture. – Dan Levy
Eugene and Dan Levy visit Access Live to tease their upcoming “Schitt’s Creek Holiday Special.” Plus, hear why Dan decided to not involve homophobia in the narrative of the show and what the audience feedback has been. “Schitt’s Creek Holiday Special” airs Dec. 19 at 10/9c on Pop TV.
Congratulations to the cast of Schitt’s Creek on this well deserved Critic’s Choice award nomination. The winners will be revealed at the star-studded Critics’ Choice Awards gala, broadcast live January 13 on the CW at 7 PM ET/PT.
BEST COMEDY SERIES
The Good Place (NBC)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
The Middle (ABC)
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
You can view the full list of nominees here.
Schitt’s Creek‘s David is going to liven up his ho-hum relationship with Patrick even if it literally kills him.
In this exclusive sneak peek at the riotous Pop comedy’s Season 5 premiere (Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 10/9c), Alexis — faux concerned that her brother’s romance with Patrick is on a collision course with “snoozetown” — invites her sib and his other half to accompany her and Ted on their latest intimacy-boosting “adventure date.”
For his part, David is too perturbed by the mere accusation that his love life has hit a repetitive patch to even consider such an overture. But Alexis has the receipts, courtesy of a decades-old issue of Major Lady magazine.
Press PLAY above to watch David and Alexis do their supremely entertaining brother-sister dance, and then scroll down for a first look at the somewhat dangerous looking double date that results. And programming reminder: As a pre-Season 5 appetizer (or is it a Season 4 dessert?), Schitt’s Creek will air a standalone Christmas special on Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 10/9c.
Dan and the cast of Schitt’s Creek attended Vulture Festival this weekend. I’ve added a bunch of photos from the event as well as new promotional images of the cast promoting the Schitt’s Creek Christmas Special. Enjoy all the pretties. I can’t wait for the Christmas special and season five.
— Schitt's Creek (@SchittsCreek) November 7, 2018
Schitt’s Creek fans, it’s time to brush up on your Tina Turner: The quirky comedy will be back for a fifth season on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 10/9c, Pop TV announced Monday.
Season 5 will span 14 episodes, making it the series’ longest run yet. Read on for the official season description:
The Roses are finally thriving in Schitt’s Creek and find themselves ready to take their personal relationships and business pursuits to the next level. Moira returns from a breakthrough film shoot in Bosnia with a clear exit strategy and a renewed sense of purpose, and with that newfound energy, she is inspired to leave her mark on the town by launching her most ambitious artistic endeavor yet. Meanwhile, the reputation of the Rosebud Motel is steadily building under Johnny’s leadership, but managing the individual needs of his staff, Stevie and Roland, proves to be a greater challenge. With Rose Apothecary running smoothly, David is now focusing on nurturing his relationship with Patrick, and from apartment hunting to joining a baseball team, he proves he’s willing to go the extra mile. Alexis, having finally achieved some stability in both romance and career, isn’t one to let things get stale, so she tries to spice things up with Ted while contemplating a next step that could take her beyond Schitt’s Creek.
Pop also announced an airdate for the Schitt’s Christmas special, which technically serves as the Season 4 finale: Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 10/9c. The installment will find Johnny hoping to celebrate the holidays with an old-fashioned Rose family Christmas party, but getting everyone on board at the last minute will take serious effort.
Based on its title, you wouldn’t necessarily expect Schitt’s Creek to be one of the best shows around right now.
When it began in early 2015, Schitt’s Creek attracted mixed reviews. Indeed, the first season starts out shaky, due in part to its initially off-putting premise: the Rose family, made wealthy by a video rental chain, has been screwed over by their business manager. With the government seizing all their assets, they’re told they’ve been allowed to keep one thing — the town of Schitt’s Creek, the deed to which they purchased as a joke birthday gift.
With nowhere else left to turn, the Roses move into the town’s motel. They react to Schitt’s Creek with sheer horror. The privilege apparent in each member of the family — their vapidity and self-absorption — makes the earliest episodes of the series feel slightly stilted, but it was part of the show’s master plan. Where most sitcoms start out with a suite of characters designed to make you like them, Schitt’s Creek instead follows the Arrested Development tack of making you observe rich, oblivious dummies let loose on the world.
Where the Bluths’ inability to change lies at the heart of Arrested’s comedy, though, the Roses have steadily transformed from out-of-touch, vain, shrill nightmares into warm, relatable, still pretty shrill delights. It’s been a joy to watch across all four seasons, but especially in the last two years thanks to two characters: David and Patrick.
Schitt’s Creek was co-created by Dan Levy and his famous father Eugene. A comedy legend, Eugene Levy’s work on sketch show SCTV and in Christopher Guest mockumentaries like Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman have made him, and his frequent collaborator and co-star Catherine O’Hara, truly iconic.
Dan stars in Schitt’s Creek as David, a somewhat effeminate, over-rewarded under-achiever with a very specific wardrobe. His real life dad plays his onscreen father, Johnny, the equivocating patriarch, and O’Hara plays his mother, Moira, a former soap opera actress of slightly fading glamour and long-dimmed stardom with an anthropomorphised wig collection, eccentric fashion sense and a stunningly implacable, improbable accent. And then, of course, there’s David’s sister Alexis, played by Annie Murphy, an initially ditzy socialite who reads like a cross between Paris Hilton and Jenna Maroney.
David’s pansexuality is revealed in season two after he sleeps with Stevie, the motel’s lone, disgruntled employee. In a short, perfect scene, she broaches the topic of his preferences, asking, “I only drink red wine. And up until last night, I was under the impression that you, too, only drank red wine.” David explains, saying, “I like the wine and not the label. Does that make sense?”
They never progress beyond friendship, aside from briefly considering the possibility of a polyamorous relationship with an exceedingly hot, very unintelligent man who’s seeing both of them at once. And then in the series’ third season, as David explores his wish to build something of his own and open a store in Schitt’s Creek, he meets Patrick.
Patrick (Noah Reid) looks like he has a business degree and has had his hair cut by the same barber for his entire life. He offers to help David with his business proposal, and as they spend more time with each other, teasing and flirting, they fall for each other. Season three ends with Patrick revealing that these are all very new feelings and experiences to him that he, having grown up in a small town, had spent a long time suppressing and avoiding.
David, by contrast, has had a string of brief, failed dalliances but never a genuine, loving relationship. Both scenarios typify common experiences for queer people when it comes to dating. As their relationship progresses, it steadily becomes the show’s main story. Where most sitcoms are content for their queer characters to have largely off-screen partners, as with Captain Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine or the rotating guest star boyfriends of Will & Grace, Schitt’s Creek makes sure that David’s relationship is part of the show’s DNA.
Season four, which landed on Netflix on May 15, sees the pair taking things up a notch, though with some minor hurdles. The season’s centrepiece rom-com scene comes when Patrick, having organised an open mic night to promote the store, takes to the stage to serenade David with a gorgeous acoustic cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’. Their dynamic is incredibly well-written; they alternate between gently mocking each other and slowly discovering how to be in a relationship that truly feels right, with a dash of pushing each other towards being better people. What more could you want to see?
It’s certainly a kind of wish fulfilment TV relationship, perhaps in part because Dan Levy is himself gay outside the show. Most importantly, Schitt’s Creek captures the intensity of what happens when — after spending so long feeling like your sexuality precluded you from finding a happy, healthy relationship — something that good finally comes around.
The romantic comedy genre has not, historically, been terribly friendly to queer people. Occasionally we’d be at the centre of rom-coms, as with In & Out, Another Gay Movie or But I’m A Cheerleader. Other times, we’d either be sassy best friends — Brandon in Easy A, Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding — or see lesbians and bi women routinely being objectified for the straight male gaze.
As queer representation has gotten better, so too have films and TV shows improved at giving queer characters, and thereby their relationships, the validity they deserve. No matter how you feel about the movies above, or Will & Grace, Ellen and so on, they all paved the way for what came after them.
Because comedies tend to suffer more due to changing sensibilities and cultural trends, their achievements are less frequently canonised. Dramas like Six Feet Under and Orange is the New Black are — rightly — praised for showcasing many facets of queer experiences and relationships, but without them being a show’s primary focus. Comedies struggle to achieve the same legitimacy, as they are often put into a box of being ‘fun’ and ‘light’, ostensibly lacking the depth to be taken seriously. They attain a legacy of being enjoyable, rather than being important.
This is starting to change through representation. Delightful teen sitcom Faking It represented not only a carefree, sex positive gay teenager, but also a teen girl with an intersex condition, among others. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has seen Rosa Diaz come out as bisexual, Elena on One Day at a Time is an out and proud Latinx woman. Much of why Will & Grace copped so much flack is because it was always built on a degree of self-criticism used to better appeal to straight viewers, and while the show’s revival has lessened this, newer shows have shown that they don’t need to be so cripplingly self-effacing.
On the film side, the recent release of Love, Simon has propelled same-sex romantic comedy back into the mainstream niche Hollywood tried to carve for them in the ‘90s. That film, while very good, struggled to balance its adorable gay love story with the darker plot points leading up to it, spending more time adding dimension to the straight character who suffers no consequences for viciously outing someone than it does fleshing out its gay characters.
If Love, Simon was a young adult landmark, Schitt’s Creek feels like an equivalent high point for queer romantic comedies on TV, in part because its identities never need to be a source of conflict. If Love, Simon encapsulates the adolescent feeling of having to hold your breath, Schitt’s Creek gets to show what happens after the exhale.
It presents a breadth of the spectrum of sexuality, isn’t hung up on constantly affirming its male characters’ masculinity, and all the while being consistently really fucking funny.
It’s The Schitt
None of this would work so well if the show around it weren’t so goddamn good.
Moira Rose is an impeccable comic creation on the level of Mary Richards or Leslie Knope, a fluttering, self-possessed hurricane of a woman who once hosted the non-televised portion of the People’s Choice Awards. She’s at once desperate to be the centre of attention and simultaneously repulsed by the kind of attention she gets in her new life. To say Catherine O’Hara is one of the most gifted comedic actresses of all time does not do justice to how wholly she gives life to Moira.
Alexis, meanwhile, has the other major arc of the show as she comes further into her own, realising that she is more shrewd and has more control over her own path than she realised. One of the show’s most genius tricks has been to gradually sync up David and Alexis’ specific mannerisms. At the start, they had never really paid much attention to each other than when insults were necessary, where now their bond had embedded shared sibling sensibilities into their dynamic.
That the Rose family learns to love Schitt’s Creek and the people in it only adds further to the show’s charm. The naturalism of the world the show has built, as with the patient but concise rhythms of its editing, make David and Patrick’s rom-com story that much easier to invest in.
It’s turned Schitt’s Creek into some of the best TV we have these days, and it’s bringing us — bit by bit — the great gay rom-com we’ve all wanted for years.
So why aren’t you watching yet? All four seasons of Schitt’s Creek are now streaming on Netflix.