We'd be all smiles too after that many awards
‘What’s your favourite season?’ Alexis Rose asks her mother as she’s endeavouring to get to know her. ‘Hmmm’ she ponders, ‘Awards Season?’ says Moira, missing the point entirely but expertly conveying how Mrs Rose lives on a different planet to everyone else.
We’re not surprised though and Moira would indeed be very happy this season as the sleeper hit sitcom Schitt’s Creek won nine Emmys at this year’s socially distanced/remote awards ceremony on Sept 22nd. That breaks the record for the most Emmys a comedy show has picked up in one evening. So in honour of those nine gongs, we thought it essential to take a closer look at just what the fuss is all about.
It’s about a family in Lockdown – Ok well not exactly. The show revolves around the Rose family, expertly played by real life father and son Eugene and Daniel Levy, along with comedy legend Catherine O’Hara and actress Annie Murphy. The family find themselves penniless having been defrauded out of their multi millions by a business associate. The action takes place in and around the motel they are holed up in, one room for Moira and Johnny Rose the parents, and an adjoining one for the siblings David and Alexis. Sounds a bit pokey right? Yes, and chillingly familiar for 2020.
Catherine O'Hara sporting one of Moira's eclectic collection of wigs
It's written by Daniel Levy – ‘Who’s that?’ you cry. He’s Eugene Levy’s son, and co-creator of the show and who he handed, very trustingly, the reins of the show to in its final few seasons. Having not had much script writing experience, he went on to win the Emmy for his writing on the show and is proof that if someone believes in you, you can do anything. Ok it helps when your Dad has been a comedy genius for decades but hey, it’s a nice sentiment. Dan Levy is also openly gay and his Dad couldn’t be prouder of him or his achievements. No, you’re crying.
Moira makes waves
Catherine O’Hara – All hail Catherine O’Hara. If you don’t recognise her name immediately, she’s the mother in Home Alone who leaves Kevin at home and also the pithy matriarch in Beetlejuice. Very different parts but no less recognisable. She has forged a career over decades, often with Eugene Levy in films like Best In Show and A Mighty Wind where their chemistry is priceless. So not only is she a legend in movies and TV, but in Moira Rose O’Hara has created one of television’s all-time iconic female comedy characters. We’re talking on a par with Edina Monsoon from Ab Fab or Hyacinth Bucket/Bouquet from Keeping Up Appearances. Moira is comedy perfection, seamlessly blending brazen egotism and downright selfishness with touching moments of kindness and altruism. Her lack of self-awareness is matched only by her wig and designer clothes collections. At 66 O’Hara perfectly encapsulates a faded actress of a certain age, still living in the past, and has become one of the most quotable characters of all time. We can already hear people trying to emulate her indefinable accent all around the globe.
Actor Steve Lund steams up the screen as bi-sexual Jake
It’s all inclusive – One of the most special things about Schitt’s Creek is how it deals with LGBTQ+ issues. Basically, it doesn’t. While it’s supposedly set in a backwater town in middle America in the present day, there’s no mention of bigotry or prejudice. Of course, it’s a comedy but it’s set in a world where being gay or bi-sexual is no big deal. Whilst in real life we’d imagine a big gay wedding would ruffle some feathers, especially in Trump’s evangelical Bible belt, here the whole town gets behind moments of joy, no matter how ‘alternative’ they are. While of course these things should be dealt with, it’s nice to look through a window into a utopia where those problems are already resolved or possibly didn’t even exist in the first place.
There’s plenty of eye candy – Hang on, a show written by a gay man has loads of eye candy?! While it certainly isn’t gratuitous, there’s plenty of hot guys to gawk at in the show. There’s Ted Mullens, the local vet, played by Dustin Mulligan who gets a glow up in series 3 and whips his gymmed up physique out on more than one occasion. There’s also Steve Lund who plays bi-sexual carpenter Jake, who enters into a sexual relationship with more than one of the main cast, both male and female. Then there’s local heartthrob and bad boy Mutt Schitt, played by Tim Rozon. He’s your archetypal bearded misanthrope, all brooding and mysterious. He’s not in it for long so make the most of this particular slice of beefcake.
A grower, not a shower
It gets better and better – Show co-creator Daniel Levy went on record at the Emmys speaking directly to networks who are notorious for cancelling shows after one or two seasons. He correctly states that if they’d been on a major US network they most probably would have been cancelled. That is the problem with slow burners or with in-depth character development, it takes time. Here is a family that are out of touch with reality, fishes out of water and not particularly pleasant. They are selfish, entitled and rude. It’s tough to have empathy in the first season or so but what follows is some of the best characterisation ever put to film. As the seasons progress, we watch the Roses as they change and better themselves into people that you slowly fall in love with, even more so due to their willingness to improve, better themselves and adapt to their new lives.
It has real heart – The joy of Schitt’s Creek is how it gives you the feels. Investing in characters that grow and change over time is one of the greatest gifts a show can give you. Whilst you’re enjoying the comedy, at the same time you’re getting character development that’s second to none. Roles that you dismissed as peripheral, superficial or saccharine, morph into bona fide people that you understand and empathise with. Despite their history, it’s like you’re experiencing their vital personality changes along with them which is heart-warming and almost cathartic.
We'd all be heading to the vets too if they looked like Ted
It’s all about family – The Rose family, and indeed all the central characters, at first seem abrasive and dislikeable but ultimately they are a unit that we recognise. Mother’s histrionics, children’s rebelliousness and a kindly dad trying to keep it together are tropes we are all used to. They are comforting however. Add to this the extended family of friends and colleagues that become so much more and you have a very modern love story. Reconnecting with an estranged family and finding, either enforced or by choice, that you actually love each other is a big deal and shows us all that it’s possible and positive. When a family is forced to appreciate itself, one can be surprised at the results.
The next chapter...?
It’s not over until Moira Rose sings – Watching the acting family win their record amount of awards on the Sept 23rd was one of the best TV moments in years. A kind of divine retribution that you can follow your dream and get awarded for it, no matter how many hurdles you may have had to jump to get there. Schitt’s Creek finished filming before the show even got picked up by Netflix which sent it stratospheric after only showing in its native Canada and on a few smaller channels here and in the US. Due to this, the question now hangs in the air, what next? Calls for a movie or a continuation of the series are understandably rife since their record win. Daniel Levy certainly doesn't rule it out saying ‘Fingers crossed we get a really good idea coming into our heads soon’. Going out on a high embeds a show in the collective mind as never going off the boil but here is a show that clearly was only recognised at its very end so potentially still has some legs left on it.