Schitt’s Creek: A cult classic
Why is Schitt’s Creek so popular? It’s a fair question. If you look at the premise of the show you see nothing really new. A rich family goes broke… That’s it. It’s a concept we’ve seen before in numerous comedies and dramas.
And yet, there’s something about this one. You find yourself building a connection with characters whose lives are nothing like yours. I’ve never stolen a dress from Ashlee Simpson after she stole it from me first and I’ve never been to Elton John’s annual hunt at his home in Windsor that was “more about the lunch.” (Note: Anyone who’s seen the show is laughing right about now. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. The name drops in this show are spectacular.)
They seem nothing like me
But in all seriousness, I started the show with scepticism. I have nothing in common with these people. A good show is about connecting audiences to the characters and I didn’t see it coming.
Little did I know. According to an interview with Dan Levy, co-creator of the show and the genius behind the character David Rose, he and his father, second co-creator and the man who plays Johnny Rose, spent weeks just focusing on the characters’ backstories. They spent the time building characters who were real and relatable, even if I’ve never dated all three Hanson brothers one summer (I’m sorry, that’s the last reference to the name-drops. They’re good, I promise).
So maybe that’s why the show works. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me first dive a little deeper into what actually happens in the show (no spoilers).
Jumping right in
There’s no build up. The show begins with the Rose family having lost everything they own, everything except for a small town called Schitt’s Creek that father Johnny Rose bought as a joke for his son’s birthday. They’re forced to move to this town and stay in a run-down motel as they try and get their lives back together. Grown up children David and Alexis are, as you can guess, incredibly spoiled and begin the slow and arduous journey about learning of actual life. And the town’s residents, as you can probably also guess, aren’t super excited about the strange new family that has just moved in.
Perhaps that’s another reason why Schitt’s Creek works. You have polar opposites, America’s big-city wealth and America’s small-town poor. Both groups are forced to figure out how to live with each other and find the humanity in the other.
And truth be told, it also just works because the jokes are well thought out and the humour is clever. You have multiple long-running jokes that only develop as the show goes on. Each of the characters has their own quirks and mannerisms that play off each other (I’m thinking mainly of the mother, Moira Rose, here). It’s three-dimensional comedy. That’s an odd but good way of describing it.
The mundane and the marvelous
Coming back to the characters for a second, Schitt’s Creek also did something that I hadn’t seen before in a show like it. It managed to take stereotypes and spin them on their heads. It made normal what so many shows before sought to stereotype for comedic affect. Dan Levy’s character David Rose is pansexual. In the show there’s a brilliant conversation about wine, with his friend Stevie Budd (played by Emily Hampshire) telling him she thought he only like red wine (men) and David casually responding with “I like the wine, not the label.” On a tangental note, David’s relationship with Patrick (played by Noah Reid) is the most beautiful relationship I’ve ever seen on television (sorry Jim and Pam, Luke and Lorelai, Chandler and Monica). I cried… many times. If you watch the show for nothing else, watch it for that.
So basically what I’m saying is, in a nutshell, the show is not afraid to blend the normal and the absurd, the everyday with the extravagant. We all know about love and feeling alone, about trying to make new friends and start over; even if we don’t all know what it’s like to be stood up by Eva Longoria when you’re both supposed to be performing a ventriloquist act for the Everybody Nose benefit for juvenile rhinoplasty. (Ok, that’s the last one, I promise.)
All six seasons of Schitt’s Creek are streaming now on Netflix. Check them out.