You are blind to reality and for that I am most proud.” – Moira Rose, Schitt’s Creek
Five years ago, the Canadian Broadcasting Company premiered a sitcom conceived by Dan Levy, son of renowned comedy legend Eugene Levy. The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of the wealthy Rose family who, after an unscrupulous relative absconds with their fortune, are forced to relocate to their only remaining asset, a rural town with the unfortunate name of “Schitt’s Creek,” which the patriarch had once purchased as a joke. Now in its sixth and final season, what began as a modestly successful comedy has grown into a cultural touchstone, gathering critical accolades and engendering a deeply devoted fandom.
And, now, a tiny confession … I’m a total acolyte to the cause. In my view, the world would be a kinder place if everyone watched this show. You see, Schitt’s Creek offers much more than the usual fare of sitcoms in which characters, no matter how well-drawn, ultimately fall into routine patterns and increasingly rely upon self-referential puns. A stellar ensemble cast is certainly a key ingredient of the show’s success. But the real strength of Schitt’s Creek, in my opinion, is its writing, which over the course of the series has explored deeply personal journeys for each of its main characters.
And after repeated viewings – hey, in times like these a gentle comedy can draw one in like a bee to a field of clover – I find myself even more enamored for I now see how even seemingly innocuous exchanges in early episodes laid the seeds for character arcs that deliver emotional payoffs later in the series. And in this discovery, I see lessons for my own stories, lessons others may find helpful as well.
Unfortunately, unspooling the film, so to speak, on how Dan Levy and his team of writers pulled off such a feat, involves a few spoilers. But even if you haven’t yet watched the show – and, again, you should – I will limit my reveals to the character played by inimitable comic address Catherine O’Hara. So let’s get started on exploring the evolution of unforgettable matriarch and former television star Moira Rose.