Yes, you have to get past the awful name. But Schitt’s Creek, a CBC/PopTV sitcom, is seriously one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. And if this comedy created by a Jewish family isn’t on your radar yet, it should be.
The lovable series — which was just renewed for a 5th season — was co-created by the father-and-son team Dan Levy and Eugene Levy (of American Pie, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind fame). They both also star in the show, along with Dan’s sister, Sarah Levy.
Dan, a former MTV host and successful actor in his own right, had idea for the show, about the wealthy Rose family that loses everything after their funds are mismanaged. The Roses are forced to live in the only home they legitimately own, in tiny, decrepit Canadian town, Schitt’s Creek, that the family patriarch, Johnny (played by dad Eugene, of course), once bought as a joke.
(Fun fact: Dan he says he was inspired by reality TV and the Kardashians, in particular, wondering what would have happened if one day the celebrity family lost all of their money).
And so, this family of 4 adults goes from riches to rags, from mansion to decrepit motel (the only place in town that will host them for free). Mom Moira Rose is played by Eugene’s longtime comedic partner Catherine O’Hara; Dan Levy plays the fashionable son David, and Annie Murphy plays daughter Alexis, who, even in Schitt’s Creek, is never short of suitors. (Sarah Levy plays town waitress Twyla Sands, who’s not related to the Rose family.)
What’s remarkable about the show is how loving it is. You’d think a show about an entitled family moving to a “hick” town would be all caricature, but the series’ characters have complex personalities, and their motivations are often quite pure.
At its heart, Schitt’s Creek is a show about family. For the Roses, their love for their former wealth and status is trumped by their love for each other, and by a desire to keep on growing and living their lives. I mean, just the fact that these two siblings tolerate each other enough to share a dingy motel room together says a lot. And the parents seem to have taken their vows to love each other “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer” quite seriously.
Right now, when finding my faith in humanity seems particularly challenging, this kind-hearted comedy is exactly what I need. And yes, it features some crude humor and embarrassingly out-of-touch dialogue, but unlike, say, Larry David, it also features some surprisingly frank and heartfelt moments.
The show itself is never explicitly Jewish — though of course the real-life Levys are, and the series’ focus on family is perhaps, in itself, pretty Jewish, if I say so myself.
One of the most Jewish episodes is called “Bob’s Bagels.” Bob, who owns the local garage, wants Johnny to open the town’s first bagel shop. Bob tells Johnny he “would certainly know how to make them the real way because you’re uh.. you…”
“Jewish?” Johnny asks.
“I didn’t know if I could say it,” Bob replies abashedly.
The show is also groundbreaking in other ways. David is pansexual, sleeping with both women and men, and his family seems to take it in stride. Dan Levy himself is openly gay, and says he was trying to dodge “the over-the-top, often unrealistic portrayals of queer people he sees on TV,” according to Vulture.
The first three seasons of “Schitt’s Creek” are now streaming on Netflix. So don’t wait any longer and start watching this fabulous show.