There is a growing unstated rule among the audience today that until a show lands on Netflix, it has not yet been ‘discovered’. One of the biggest examples is Avatar: The Last Airbender (not to be confused with M. Night Shyamalan’s horrendous 2010 film). Schitt’s Creek is another. In 2015, this lovely Canadian sitcom started to air on CBC Television. It was made on a modest budget with a small bunch of endearing actors. In 2020, it broke 30 Rock‘s record for the most Emmy nominations (15) scored by a comedy in its final season. Its popularity grew exponentially once it landed on Netflix.
Schitt’s Creek is not just a frivolous sitcom, it broke stereotypes and rallied for inclusivity, acceptance and individuality, and was distinctive in many ways. Here’s why:
LGBTQIA representation and acceptance
Schitt’s Creek‘s approach towards people from the LGBTQIA community was a trailblazer. Rather than ‘address the matter’, the writers wove it into normal humdrum life. It normalized rather than ’empowered’. Many episodes resonated with the community and were executed with equal parts sensitivity and light-heartedness. One of the series’ primary tracks is the love story between David and Patrick. The town celebrates their love, just like they would any other couple’s. Ronnie is a lesbian character whose sexuality is never addressed nor questioned, just beautifully etched into the show. She gets some of the best one-liners.
Many fans used season 1’s ‘wine’ analogy to come out to their parents. The show’s popularity also led to the mothers of LGBTQIA children creating a Facebook group to help other children, whose parents weren’t as accepting.
Strong level-headed women
Schitt’s Creek has several strong women who take their jobs seriously and can stand their ground in any situation. Each of them has a journey of their own. Stevie grows from a quiet motel receptionist into a partner in Johnny Rose’s motel chain business. The series dabbles in her love life but does not make it the sole purpose of her existence. There’s a beautiful arc to her character through the six seasons. She discovers her ‘artsy’ side through a stage adaptation of Cabaret. In that episode, we see her yearn for love and companionship, but the writers still direct her towards the path of careers and ambition. This is a testament to the show’s thoughtfulness in trying to push for a more non-stereotypical representation of women.
Twyla runs the town’s cafe and is undoubtedly one of the show’s most affable characters. A twist in the show’s final season tells us that she stuck with her job for the sheer passion and joy of it and because she loves the town and its people. Her lovely friendship with Alexis transcends clichéd depictions of female friendships onscreen. It’s a friendship of support and love rather than competition; something rarely seen in sitcoms.
Alexis, essayed brilliantly by Annie Murphy, is one of TV’s most adorable characters. She’s naïve, but unlike most sitcoms, the show never portrays her as stupid or shallow. In the series finale, she and her beau, Ted, decide to part ways in pursuit of their respective careers. Given that their relationship had blossomed so beautifully over the show, the writers deserve brownie points for going with this unexpected and unconventional ending. But by doing so, they showcased a journey of someone who transforms from a frivolous girl to a headstrong woman who knows what she wants from life, professionally and personally. Sitcoms usually relegate women characters to passive superficial roles but Schitt’s Creek dares to take the path less trodden.
Most sitcoms suffer from a lack of story progression, playing out as a series of jokes and bizarre situations while keeping the characters in a state of stasis. On major example is Modern Family, a brilliant show with a fantastically talented cast, but few character progressions barring a couple of pregnancies and college graduations. However, Schitt’s Creek manages to depict the growth of each character. Moira’s stint with politics and eventual return to TV, Alexis’ self-discovery and David’s love life – the show pushed each character into different frontiers.
Knowing when to end
Fans were disheartened when it was announced that season 6 would be the show’s last, but it was also the most befitting end one could have asked for. A lot of series are unnecessarily stretched and even though their content may not deteriorate, the viewers’ fondness for them tends to gradually decrease. Shows like 30 Rock and Modern Family, though remarkable, dragged on for quite a bit without any significant plot progression. By contrast, Schitt’s Creek creator Dan Levy said that he thought it best to end the show when it was at its peak in the audience’s mind.
The show spread the message of love and acceptance through its characters and stories; and that is much more than one could have ever expected from a simple little sitcom.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.