Checking in with the stars of ‘Schitt’s Creek.’
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.
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.
Dan was in attendance at the 2018 GQ Men of the Year Party looking handsome. I’ve added photos to the gallery. Enjoy!
Dan was in attendance at The Trevor Project’s 2018 TrevorLIVE LA Gala a couple of days ago. I’ve added photos to the gallery. Big thanks to my friend Kayla for some of these.
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.