Schitt's Creek - Wigs, Pansexuals and Inclusivity, Oh My!
So I'm a late comer to Schitt's Creek but if you've read any of my previous blogs you'll have seen that many a Schitt's Creek gif/meme gets a look in because I'm hooked to this show line and sinker! We think it's the perfect way to kick off our focus this month into all things queer for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian (and BTIQA+) Mardi Gras Festival 2021!
Entertaining, witty, and heartwarming this sitcom takes us on a roller coaster of laughs and tears as a seemingly dysfunctional family is thrust into adversity. Join us for a deep dive into the themes that make Schitt's Creek so great - adaptation, self development and inclusiveness. So buckle up, grab a cup of coffee from Twyla's Café Tropical and ready yourself for an exploration of our favourite quirky little town, it's fabulous people, and their newest residences - the Rose family.
Schitt's Creek was released in 2015, and whilst it may have been a slow burn, it has ignited itself to popular infamy in recent years. Born from the masterminds of Dan and Eugene Levy (*swoon*) the show has reached critical and popular acclaim picking up nine, that's right - nine, trophies at the 2020 Emmy Awards.
The show follows the once wealthy Rose family: John Rose (Eugene Levy), Moira Rose (Catherine O'Hara), David Rose (Dan Levy) and Alexis Rose (Annie Murphy), as they are propelled into poverty and forced to take refuge in the backwater town of Schitt's Creek - a town they bought as a joke ... that not even the creditors were interested in reclaiming.
They move into the local motel and the story that follows explores their adjustment, family dynamics and interactions with the local townspeople as they try and take back what they've lost. In the journey though they rediscover themselves, each other, love, and home - in a new place.
It's difficult to find a bad review about Schitt's Creek. In fact the only negative thing I've read in official reviews (we'll leave the keyboard warriors out of it) has been around a poor choice of title for the show. But I'm ...
... as the title encapsulates the entire satirical concept of the show's roots - even if it is a little abrasive for sensitive ears.
The episodes average 22 minutes which makes for easy binge viewing. The characters are fun and entertaining and the show tackles the dark and light sides of life with humour balanced beautifully with poignancy. You can just feel the love that has gone into this production by everyone involved. It's hard to find just a few things to rave about - but let's do! For me it's the supporting characters and the costumes that really make this show a hit. Don't worry, we'll cover more about the main family in the sexologoical section further down.
Stevie Budd (Emily Hampshire)
Stevie is a fan favourite for me. Her dry wit balanced with her own self deprecating neuroticism is a good match for her friendship with David.
But it's really Stevie's own personal journey from Motel employee to Motel entrepreneur that makes us love her even more. We can identify with her struggle and perseverance from small town gal to business woman of America.
Favourite moment: S05E14 'Life is a Cabaret' ... I literally had chills you guys, chills! And I really enjoyed Moira and Stevie's relationship leading up to this. It was great mentor development for Moira and definitely expanded her character from archetypal to developed. And the pipes on Emily Hampshire - brava!
Ted Mullens (Dustin Milligan)
We all need a vet (and frankly a boyfriend) like Ted in our life. I'm just going to leave these here ...
... No Ted, we don't mind at all Ted.
Favourite moment: S02E08 'Milk Money' when Ted returns and Alexis realises what a smokin' McHottie he is not only do we see her develop we see Ted, maybe not for the first time but definitely in the spotlight ... where he belongs.
Roland Schitt (Chris Elliot)
Roland is excellent, beer-belly and all.
Favourite moment: S06E12 'The Pitch' when Roland stands up for Johnny at the board meeting we see his loyalty and passionate defence of his friend. Despite his rough exterior it's hard not to love Roland a little bit here.
Jocelyn Schitt (Jennifer Robertson)
The Mayor's wife gives us classical Stepford Wife meets rural small town reality. Jocelyn is a lot of fun in this - her rivalry with Moira in the Jazzagals is entertaining as is her one time retail stint at Rose Apothecary. But I really enjoyed (almost cruelly as a parent myself) that Jocelyn came a bit undone with motherhood. It really humanised her for me and I'm glad we got to see, and empathise with, the real Mrs. Schitt.
Favourite moment: S04E10 'Baby Sprinkle' featuring the birth of Jocelyn's baby. This was a great moment for Moira and for Jocelyn. Driving yourself to the hospital during labour with a hysterical socialite on the phone in the background - now that's a woman who's getting it done!
And Roland Moira Schitt may be the BEST name in television history - biggest laugh of the entire show for me!
Costumes tell a story as much as dialogue or music can and the show runners really got it right with the costume design for Schitt's Creek. We're told visually by the Rose's aesthetic that they don't necessarily belong in the town of Schitt's Creek and we're given insight into their personalities - John: the suited businessman, Alexis: the bohemian kaftan free spirit, Moira: the elegant socialite, and David: his mother's son. Each outfit really does tell a story - and so do the wigs. I love a good wig ...
... and the wigs for Moira really do transcend an element of self expression above and beyond what we've seen before in television. The wig collection adds to the backstory as well as embellishing Moira's eccentric personality.
Favourite costume: S06E13 'Happy Ending' - Undoubtedly ... gorgeousness personified. And I loved that Moira, as effervescent as ever, could barely speak at times during the ceremony. Again, another poignant demonstration of character development that we've come to expect from the show.
I won't give too much away but, whilst it was sad to the see the end, it was also maybe time. Everything was wrapped up just enough I think to allow the audience to feel satisfied with an element of ongoing curiosity.
And as Eugene Levy stated when he spoke about the show ending, there's no better time to go than on a high. Given the show's success maybe we will see a return some day - another season or a movie perhaps. We can only hope - it'd be fun to see how our characters have traveled since leaving (or staying) in Schitt's Creek. I guess we'll have to wait and see ...
Schitt's Creek has been celebrated for the show's theme of inclusivity. The town of Schitt's Creek is a pretty kooky place with some, shall we say ... interesting citizens. There's a ton of media, representations and examples of 'backwater America' - aka small rural towns and their prejudices - and whilst I think a lot of this representation is valid to a degree it was absolutely refreshing to engage in watching a show that embraced acceptance and inclusiveness, that let people just be people, and in letting them live their ordinary lives create something extraordinary.
I was especially taken with the David and Patrick love story and mostly because of it's ordinariness. David's oddities, eccentricities and anxieties aside their relationship is just , well, normal. So often gay relationships are portrayed in the context of homophobia (internalised and experienced), diseases like HIV/AIDS and stereotyped by the party scene or segmented populations like Bears, Twinks and Daddies. But with David and Patrick we just get normal. And beyond normal, acceptance. And how beautiful that must be for young queer people to have on their TV screens.
Ironically in contrast we have Alexis and her pursuit of relationships, in comparison to David's, is far less smooth.
Alexis in her beautiful, whimsical, free-spirited approach to life is at times ... a bit of a mess.
(Case in point)
But aloof presentation aside, Alexis has the biggest character development of all the Rose clan. We're given snippets throughout the show that Alexis, in her travels abroad - through mingling's with Cartels, Middle Eastern royalty and South American prisons - is actually quite capable, despite appearances.
Her biggest portrayal of character development is undoubtedly seen in the resolution of her relationship with Ted in the final season. In comparison to their first break-up, which was all about her own FOMO, their next break-up centres mostly on FO(Ted)MO - i.e. Alexis doesn't want to stand in the way of Ted's life dream, allowing her to focus on her own ... independently. And as far as relationship endings go, as sad and devastating as they feel, that is not a bad way to end things.
Pansexuality and Wine
My all time favourite analogy in Schitt's Creek, and frankly in life, has got to be David and Stevie discussing sexuality through wine at the corner store.
David, a Pansexual (someone who is attracted to people regardless of their biological sex, gender or gender identity), eloquently describes his sexual orientation utilising various bottles of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. It's refreshing to see, for what some people may (through a heteronormative lens) find a challenging concept, explained in the simplest of terms and be accepted at face value by Stevie ... and, hopefully, the audience.
Labels are great for some people but there can be real power in de-labeling and just being.
So whether you prefer a Pinot Noir, a Riesling or a Shiraz Grenache Viognier blend, as long as you drink responsibly, you do you boo.
Mindfulness and the Millionaire
Perhaps the most poignant theme of the show sits with Twyla (Sarah Levy ... that's right, Levy - this show really is a family affair!). It's revealed to the audience at the end of the final season that Twyla is a multi-millionaire, having won a whopping $92 million in the lottery. Inspired by Alexis, Twyla chooses to (finally) use some of her winnings to buy something she wants - so Twyla buys the Cafe Tropical, renaming it Twyla's Cafe Tropical, demonstrating that in some way's she's had everything she wants this whole time.
And there's the message folks. The Rose clan come to Schitt's Creek having 'lost it all' only to discover through their family unit, relationships, new found friendships and community, that they actually have everything they need.
There's a lot to be said for living in the now with a little gratitude, mindfulness and appreciation.
Summary and Ratings
If you hadn't guess it yet - this is a rave. I have no complaints! Possibly the BEST TV show I've seen in a long time.
Modern and current for a sitcom with just the right balance of comedy mixed with heart-string pulling tenderness. The Rose's took us on a journey and it was a true pleasure to experience.
Easy viewing. Entertaining. Quirky. Relate-able. Heart warming.
If you still haven't jumped aboard the Schitt's Creek train:
1) What have you been doing during lockdown? and 2) Now's the time! You won't be disappointed.
A heart warming 5/5.
Such a refreshing portrayal of inclusion, diverse relationships, family, community, mindfulness, friendship and love. What could have easily turned into a sitcom about the prejudices of rural America showed us the exact opposite - and gosh, there's never been a time where the world needed that more than right now.
An Inclusive 5/5.
(I'm just gonna leave this here ... )
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Disclaimer: All material posted is the author's opinion and should not take the place of tailored advice, unique to your situation, from a medical or healthcare professional. Where information is sourced elsewhere it is referenced in the source list. All images and gifs are sourced through wix.com, Canva, and the author's private photo collection unless otherwise stated.