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
Schitt’s Creek emerged as a quiet juggernaut, one of those rare, ultra-bingeable shows that also packs a ton of heart. How exactly did creator and star Dan Levy do it? Well, we’ll let him explain.
To say that Dan Levy sweats the small stuff is like saying the Kardashians dabble in money-making. On the set of Schitt’s Creek, he over-considers everything, from the magnets on the refrigerator to the way the motel beds are made to the degree the fibers on the carpets appear over-vacuumed.
“In my head it’s like, ‘We should all know that they don’t vacuum their carpets all the time,’ ” Levy tells me. “These are lived-in carpets. We’re in a motel. If we’re going to vacuum the carpets, which I know has to be done, we also need to scuff them up a bit after.”
And you do the scuffing yourself?
“Oh, absolutely,” he says. “That’s the prison cell that is my brain.”
We’re in the middle of lunch in Tribeca on a cloudy January day at the end of a week-long press trip for Schitt’s Creek, which airs on cable network Pop in the U.S. and is currently in its fifth season. (His reward upon completion? A visit to Las Vegas to see Lady Gaga’s Enigma residency.) Levy, 35, is the co-creator and star of the show, which follows a delusionally wealthy family that loses everything, relocates to its last remaining asset—a backwoods town it bought as a gag gift years ago—and starts life anew in a run-down motel. Levy, who plays the sarcastic, fashion-minded man-child David, created it with his father, Eugene Levy, who also plays his dad on the show. But the younger Levy wears many other hats, including showrunner, writer, occasional director, and master question-answerer. And truthfully, it can be a little overwhelming sometimes.
“It’s in the details for me, and when the details aren’t executed perfectly, I get a bit…ornery,” Levy says, which is one of the handful of things he has in common with David. (Along with a love of Mariah Carey and a fondness for karaoke. “I do a pretty mean Lorde impression,” he says.) And though David’s fashion sense is more extreme than Levy’s—most notably he sports an infinite rotation of drop-crotch sweats to create a vampire–Rick Owens hybrid—he’d probably approve of what Levy’s wearing today: a leather jacket over a cream-colored sweater with black pants that seem to have a completely different silhouette depending on what angle you look at them. His bangs are pushed up straight, like his hair just woke up from a nap with a yawn and a stretch. And then there’s those famous Levy eyebrows, which are half-obscured by thick black frames, not unlike the kind his father wears sometimes.
Yet when you ask his coworkers about whether they’ve ever seen him stressed, their answers paint a picture of…startlingly effortless competence from someone who, prior to Schitt’s Creek, had barely any acting credits to his name and was best known for recapping The Hills on air as an MTV Canada VJ. “It’s almost like he’s been doing this for years and years before we started the show, but that’s not true—this is the first time he’s ever had this kind of responsibility,” says Eugene Levy. Catherine O’Hara, who plays Rose family matriarch Moira, a former soap actress with a zany wardrobe and even zanier wig collection, says, “It’s crazy how comfortable he is doing this, how calm and confident he is running the show.”
It’s not that he doesn’t ever have his moments, Levy explains. It’s just that he tries to hide them from his coworkers to avoid being a bother. “Actors are really susceptible people—they’re spongey,” he says. “So I try my best not to bring any of my fears or anxieties onto set. I’ll leave that for behind a closed door.” His colleagues are none the wiser: “I’ve always seen him take everything in stride with a classic Dan Levy smirk,” says Noah Reid, who plays David’s teddy bear of a boyfriend, Patrick. (Fans of the show will know the one: the brow-raising, eye-squinting, teeth-baring one immortalized in many GIFS.)
Levy’s prescription of loving care and general punctiliousness has earned Schitt’s Creek immense critical acclaim and a loyal fan base, who have watched the show grow from its Grinch-comes-to-Whoville premise to something sweeter and bigger-hearted as the Roses have put down roots. But it’s also contributed to this sense among people who talk about the show that it all came out of nowhere: that Schitt’s Creek was just this little Canadian sitcom that could until it arrived on Netflix in 2017 and suddenly everyone was talking about it. That Levy just naturally followed in his father’s footsteps, the way families with parents who are doctors and lawyers beget more doctors and lawyers, without so much as a hitch. But according to Levy, that version of events skips over a lot of failure, self-doubt, and periods of total bewilderment about what he was supposed to do with his life that make him and the show what they are today. To really understand why you love Schitt’s Creek, you have to take a tour inside the prison cell that is his brain.
Of all the things Schitt’s Creek has been praised for, its portrayal of queer relationships has garnered some of its most enthusiastic, passionate feedback. This has been true from the jump: Early on, viewers assume David is gay, until he hooks up with surly motel clerk Stevie (Emily Hampshire)—to the shock of many characters, not least of all Stevie—and tells her he’s pansexual via a surprisingly helpful wine analogy: “I do drink red wine, but I also drink white wine, and I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé, and a couple summers back I tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay,” he explains. “I like the wine and not the label.”
But the letters really started coming in the third and fourth season, when David meets the teddy-bearish Patrick, whose sexuality is ambiguous in his first few episodes. They start falling for each other with the help of some swoon-worthy Tina Turner sing-alongs. Fans DM Levy on Instagram, send messages to the show’s Facebook page, and sometimes even stop him in public to tell him about how much these characters mean to them, how these characters have explained their lives to their unsupportive parents better than they could. Levy, who is gay, hears from conservative Christians who tell him they disapproved of queer people until Schitt’s Creek showed them that following their faith and having empathy for the LGBTQ community weren’t mutually exclusive. Recently, a mother wrote Levy to say that she worried coming out would make her son’s life harder, until David and Patrick showed her that it could actually make it more fulfilling. When Levy first got the message, he says he broke down. “She’s been able to feel like he’s going to be okay,” he says, his voice wobbling slightly, “because these characters are okay.”
It’s a little ironic that Schitt’s Creek is teaching so many people, because one of Levy’s mandates when it came to developing the show’s queer storylines was to avoid teachable moments rooted in struggle. “ ‘We’ll let every straight character live their lives,’ ” he says, summarizing the thinking of many TV executives, “ ‘but the gay characters are here to teach us a lesson.’ The characters were being painted with a different brush ultimately, and that to me was really boring.” From the beginning, Levy decided that homophobia would be a non-issue in the universe of Schitt’s Creek. And though he teases a coming-out storyline happening in the fifth season, it’s no accident that the show’s queer characters more often just get to be queer rather than proclaim it. (“It’s not a cross that straight people have to bear,” he says.) Levy’s trying to capture the world accurately, but he’s also trying to will a kinder, gentler one into existence.
Still, he gives these characters the same obsessive care he gives everything else. Take, for instance, the season-three finale, when Patrick and David kiss for the first time. Patrick reveals that he’s never been with a man before, and in the lead-up to filming, something about the scene kept Levy up at night. So the evening before, Levy called up a friend to talk it out. They spoke for hours about their own first gay relationships—how they unfolded, what made them special—and Levy realized the problem: In the original version of the scene, Patrick kisses David.
That just seemed too easy for someone who was new to all of it. Levy thought about how his first sorta-boyfriend made the first move in their relationship, and how liberated and grateful he felt afterward, to have someone else lift that burden. So he wrote and rewrote the scene into the wee hours, deciding that in the end, David would be the one to kiss Patrick.
Levy’s own coming out wasn’t a horror story by any means, but he wouldn’t call it easy: When he was 18-ish, his mother politely asked him about it at lunch one day, but he wonders about how long it would have taken him if she hadn’t asked. It wasn’t easy after he came out, either—he tells me about how he almost felt more insecure, second-guessing how he was supposed to look and act and find dates, how he’d look around in gay bars and wonder if he’d ever feel at home there. And it wasn’t easy during his first few years at MTV, when he avoided being out publicly because it was the time of blogs and salacious celebrity outings, and he was afraid of what might happen if someone wrote about him that way.
Over the years, though, it’s often been the little stuff that’s bothered him most: In 2017, a critic for the Canadian newspaper The Globe & Mail wrote in a review of The Great Canadian Baking Show, which Levy co-hosts, that perhaps the show’s judges were stiff because “at any moment, they know they might be swarmed by the feyness of Levy.” Levy called out the veiled homophobia in no uncertain terms on social media: “To all the ‘fey’ kids/people out there who read that and were made to question whether their ‘feyness’ is deserving of criticism, it’s not. You are loved for who you are.”
The post sparked blog posts and think pieces and garnered support from journalists and celebrities alike, but that, too, wasn’t easy. “What people didn’t see,” he explains, sitting up straighter, the volume of his voice rising, “is it took me half a day of worrying about whether that tweet was the wrong thing to do. I was still struggling with ‘Do I have any right to say this?’ And that’s fucked up, but we’re programmed that way.” They didn’t see him reading the review over and over, wondering if he was being too sensitive. They didn’t see him sending the article to friends and family asking if he was misreading it.
Being comfortable in his own skin, he says, is “a process that I think I’m still learning, and I think actually playing David has given me a sense of confidence that I never had before.”
Looking back on it now, Eugene Levy can see the signs his kids would go into showbiz: Dan and his sister, Sarah Levy, who also has a role on Schitt’s Creek as the overly friendly waitress Twyla, were always putting on shows as little kids when the Levys vacationed with Martin Short and his family. They acted in and wrote for high school productions. Dan went to film school, Sarah studied theater. It was all right there in front of him, despite what some might consider Eugene’s best efforts to prevent this: When he and his wife, Deborah Divine, decided to start a family, they moved from Los Angeles to Toronto to give their children normal childhoods—which included making them get regular jobs.
First came Gap Kids, which the then 15-year-old Levy chose so he wouldn’t have to run into anyone his own age. (“Not going to brag,” he says, “was the top sales associate of the summer.”) Then came the jobs at a bakery and a video store, which he says he draws on almost daily in the writer’s room when breaking storylines. In college, after leaving that first on-and-off relationship, which he describes as “tumultuous” and “not good for me,” he decided to take more drastic measures to get out of his shell and got an internship at a talent agency in London answering phones all day. “As someone who could barely talk to my friends, let alone a perfect stranger,” he says, “it was hell.”
But the thing about doing something that forces you out of your comfort zone is that, eventually, it stops being uncomfortable. So when he got back to Toronto and learned that MTV Canada was casting new on-air talent, he put himself up for that job, too, in the name of self-improvement. At the time, the network was considering a Wanna Be a VJ–style reality show, so they gave Levy and the other applicants $100 dollars each to spend as a test. Some people bought CDs to showcase their music taste, others bought yoga mats and prayer beads to demonstrate their spiritual side. Levy just paid his cable bill and came back with the receipt. He was eventually the first one hired.
He settled in as the co-host of an aftershow for The Hills, which he credits with helping inspire the idea of Schitt’s Creek, and enjoyed the perks—the free clothes, getting into any club or restaurant he wanted. (At least in Canada.) Still, he realized something was missing. He’d interview celebrities who’d talk about how singing or acting was what they were meant to do, how everything snapped into place when they discovered it. “I remember thinking, Well, that must be nice!” Levy says, laughing. He also knew that the longer he stayed at MTV, the more his next act would be governed by ego: What happens when the glamour disappears? What if nothing I do ever tops this?
So after almost eight years at the network, he quit and got to work on finding his next thing. At the time, creating something from scratch seemed like the only option: He tried out for acting gigs but kept bombing auditions because he was so anxious about the process, and he struggled to get representation as a writer because of his MTV background. “I was turned down by, like, every agency in the States,” he says. “They wouldn’t even take a meeting.”
He downloaded the screenwriting software Final Draft and just started typing. Mostly he just wrote dialogue, because he didn’t really know how to write scenes yet—this was before podcasts and MasterClass lessons proliferated, before he realized you could study scripts of famous TV shows online—and tried to find his voice.
“A lot of people have tremendous fear about What if it’s not good? or What if I realize I’m not talented? But knowing what you don’t want to do—what you’re bad at—is just as important. That’s a door you can close in the journey of your life. And I think closing doors is just as important as opening them.”
Six months into the process, he had the idea for Schitt’s Creek.
During his tenure at MTV, Levy avoided making references to his father out of concern that he’d be criticized for nepotism. “There was a time when you could’ve asked me if he was my dad, and I’d have been like, ‘Next question, please,’ ” he says. But after coming up with the premise for Schitt’s Creek, he realized two things: (1) He needed some help executing the idea. (2) He also wanted to avoid a broad, slapstick-y sitcom sensibility that would turn the town or its inhabitants into cartoon characters. So he turned to his dad, who just so happens to be really good at executing ideas with that quirky, observational-comedy sensibility after starring in and co-writing the outlines for Christopher Guest mockumentaries like Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman.
Eugene’s first reaction was elation: “I said, ‘Absolutely,’ and it really wouldn’t have mattered what the idea was.” Then fear: “The very first couple of days of of brainstorming, I would wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking, What if he doesn’t have it?” Then, at last, relief: “In the beginning I just felt that I had to mentor him,” he says, “but over the first season, I found myself going ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have to be here, he’s got a pretty strong handle on what he’s doing.’”
O’Hara, who’s worked alongside the elder Levy since their SCTV days in the ‘70s, says the family’s relationship during working hours is deceptively formal: “Except for looking at them,” she says, “I don’t know if a stranger [who] visited the set would know they were related.”
Levy splits his time between Toronto and Los Angeles, but he works and travels so much that turning either abode into his dream home is just a fantasy. At one point during our lunch, he pulls up his phone to show me Chairish, one of the handful of decor apps he’s gotten into recently, and scrolls through a list of his “aspirational stuff.” There’s some Rothko-esque wall art, a chair that costs about $5,000 and looks more like a sculpture than a comfortable place to sit, and what appears to be a life-size replica of a sheep that is either a bench or an ottoman. He’s not really sure. “Until I find a place to settle down,” he says, “it’s all living through the app.”
It was always the plan that, after learning the ropes, Levy would take over as sole showrunner for the second season. I ask him if this was another case of putting himself in an uncomfortable situation to better himself. Quite the opposite, really.
“At MTV, I was scared,” says Levy. “I was uncomfortable in a bad way. [But] as soon as I started this job, all my fears were based in excitement—in showing up at work the next day… I have an answer to everything on set. Whether it’s the right answer or not, I have the confidence to answer the question. That just comes when you’ve found your groove.”
Before Schitt’s Creek officially began production, Levy thought a lot about his own job history and the kind of culture he wanted to foster. “The common thread was that every time I felt seen and respected in the workplace, I felt the desire to impress,” he says. “Anytime I felt like what I was doing wasn’t a necessary part of the process, I thought, ‘Well, if you don’t care, then I don’t care.’” Of course, a lot can go wrong when you’re a first-time showrunner. Having some TV experience doesn’t necessarily prepare you to be in charge of hundreds of people; it’s why you hear about troubling working environments on other TV shows. But it’s also why hearing Levy describe a leadership philosophy based in love and care sounds so refreshing. Maybe even a little radical.
The thinking goes: If costume designers and production designers don’t feel inspired, you’ll see it on screen. If staffers in the writer’s room don’t feel comfortable sharing their experiences, you’re not going to get the best stories about the tumultuous no-good relationships and random jobs they’ve had. If actors don’t feel safe and supported, how can they possibly make themselves vulnerable enough to do their best work? (“Initially I had a lot of nerves,” Reid says of joining the show, “But Dan, after every day that we would shoot, would text me like, ‘Great stuff today, really excited about where this is going.’”) And while Levy credits Eugene and O’Hara with leading by example, O’Hara says the warm gooey center of Schitt’s Creek is Levy’s doing: “The tone on any set, or any workplace,” she says, “comes from the top.”
Levy acknowledges this process in his own way. “Whether it’s subliminal or not, you feel people’s passion, I have to believe that,” he says. “What has drawn people to this show is this intangible spirit that is loving, and I have to say it comes from more than just people’s work, it has to come from good vibes. You have to send them through the TV.”
Accepting what comes back the other way—the letters, the attention, the acclaim—is harder from him to accept sometimes. Some of the reviews of season five have brought him to tears, but part of him also worries about things going too well, of hitting some kind of Schitt’s Creek saturation point that will cause the the scales to tip out of his favor. It was so much easier to do his job, to labor over scripts and answer questions about magnets and rugs, when it felt like he was toiling in obscurity, and he jokes that perfect world is one in which everyone watches Schitt’s Creek but nobody talks about it.
He’s working on fighting that instinct, though, because to shrug off the good vibes coming back his way would downplay the work he put in to get here, the way he would hit dead ends and keep going, the way he took every bad idea and bad job and bad relationship and used it as a stepping stone toward the next thing, until he was finally where he thought he was supposed to be. He’s earned the right to post that tweet, to have that opinion, to have that confidence to answer whatever question comes up on set. “I do feel like the last thing I would want coming out of this experience is to turn around and say I never allowed to be proud of myself,” he says.
But if he doesn’t, at least there is Eugene Levy, who at the end of interview can’t help but slip out of his facade of collegial professionalism and slide right into dad mode, someone who is just “extremely proud” of how far his son has come.
“I’m really glad this article’s being done,” says Eugene with a slight stammer. “He deserves it.”
Dan was out last week at a 92Y event. I’ve added photos to the gallery as well as stills from his appearance last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Check out his interview below. Enjoy!
Quebec films, led by Daniel Roby’s ‘Just a Breath Away’ and Maxime Giroux’s ‘The Great Darkened Day,’ nabbed the most nominations in film categories.
Netflix’s Anne With an E, the adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, and the CBC comedy Schitt’s Creek grabbed a field-leading 15 nominations each for the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards on Thursday.
The Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse-starring Cardinal, a Hulu murder mystery drama that also airs on CTV, grabbed 14 nominations in the TV competition, followed by perennial nominee CBC News: The National scooping 13 in all.
Anne With an E, which is produced out of Canada as a co-production with the CBC, will compete for best TV drama against History’s Vikings from showrunner and creator Michael Hirst; the Kim Coates’ starrer Bad Blood; CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries; and OMNI’s Blood and Water.
Anne With an E hails from Emmy-winning writer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad) and is based on the famed book by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara comedy Schitt’s Creek, about a wealthy family that suddenly goes broke, also streams on Netflix.
Other multiple nominees in the TV categories are Lifetime’s Mary Kills People; the CBC comedy Workin’ Moms; CBC’s Equus: Story of the Horse; Wynonna Earp, which airs on Syfy and Space in Canada; and the CraveTV streaming comedy Letterkenny.
On the film side, Canada’s national media awards are dominated by Quebec films, as Daniel Roby’s apocalyptic Paris-set thriller Just a Breath Away (Dans la brume), which stars Romain Duris and Olga Kurylenko, and Maxime Giroux’s The Great Darkened Days (La Grande Noirceur) each nabbed eight nominations.
Close behind with seven nods is the coming-of-age drama A Colony (Une Colonie) from director Genevieve Dulude-De Celles. Kim Nguyen’s The Hummingbird Project, which stars Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgard, Salma Hayek, and Robert Budreau’s Stockholm, a heist thriller starring Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace, each scooped up six nominations.
The Canadian Screen Awards, produced by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, will hand out its high-profile trophies on March 31 in Toronto during a gala to air on the CBC network.
I’ve added HD screencaps of Dan from the two most recent episodes of Schitt’s Creek. I’ve also added high quality stills from the last three episodes. This season is soooooo good! Enjoy.
I’ve added HD screencaps of Dan from episode 3 of season 5 of Schitt’s Creek to the gallery. Enjoy!
I’ve added a bunch of photos from Dan’s recent events and HD screencaptures from the most recent episode of Schitt’s Creek. I have many more photos of Dan to add to the site and will sort through them and add them when I can. Big thanks to my friends Kayla and Claudia for all of their contributions. Enjoy!