An Ode To The Men Of ‘Schitt’s Creek’
Why I unabashedly love every single dude on this show
I have not been in love with a real man in quite some time, but I love several imaginary men, and they live in a town called Schitt’s Creek.
When it comes to romance, the wisdom from women’s magazines and various fauxspirational Instagram accounts is this: Honey, you’ve got to truly love yourself before you can love a good man. The idea, as near as I can tell, is that we women are supposed to meditate, pray, eat lean pasture-raised meats and organic vegetables, indulge in one (1) square of dark chocolate per evening, take daily bubble baths, and become so goddamn happy on our own that we don’t even notice the hot, loyal, generous, unmarried heterosexual endocrinologist making eyes at us at the bookshop until he accidentally drops a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” directly on our pedicured feet.
If this is the path to true love, I understand why I wasn’t ready for the men of Schitt’s Creek for a few years. When the show debuted on Pop in January of 2015, I was not exactly full of self-love. I was drunk, depressed, burnt out, and in debt, living in New York City. It snowed a lot that winter, I think — it’s hard to remember much, but I know I liked how quiet it got when the flakes piled up in the street before the snowplows came through. I watched people trudge through the freshly-fallen snow, many stories below my window. They were very tiny, and I hoped they were happy.
It would be nearly four years before I got sober. And about eight months into that deliberate unwinding of some internal knots, I finally fell for Schitt’s Creek and its kind gentlemen.
It’s not that one needs to be sober to enjoy Schitt’s Creek — indeed, this is a show that has probably spawned a thousand joyful drinking games, at least one of which must surely revolve around Catherine O’Hara’s pronunciation of the word bébé. Lord knows plenty of people in all states of inebriation babbled at me about the show at parties.
“You haven’t seen it?” a casual acquaintance would shriek. “Oh my God oh my God oh my God. You have to. You. Have. To.”
People on Twitter would express the same sentiment, but with emoji and endless gifs of Daniel Levy cursing and glaring for reasons I couldn’t yet comprehend.
But it turns out the women’s magazines are right, at least in part. Sometimes, to be ready for something that’s actually good for you, you have to do the work of getting rid of certain familiar things that are actually not good for you. For me, that included active alcoholism, devout workaholism, and a strange fondness for the television show Bar Rescue.
I suddenly had so much extra time on my hands. On any given day of the week, I was neither hungover nor occupied with managing some new drama I’d co-created. I wasn’t dating, so that helped clear some space. I meditated. I journaled. I worked, but not at the insane pace I’d maintained before. I got really into audiobooks. I dove into important scholarly research on Chrissy Teigen’s headbands. I finally watched some prestigious scripted television programs on various streaming platforms. But this Schitt’s Creek show kept coming up.
Eventually, as when a well-meaning elderly relative finally pressures you into meeting their friend’s neighbor’s son, I gave in and Googled the damn thing.
Schitt’s Creek chronicles the adventures of the Rose family, headed by patriarch Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy.) After a nefarious business manager scurries off with the family finances, Johnny drags his onetime soap star wife, Moira (Catherine O’Hara), his maybe-probably-queer fashionista son David (Daniel Levy), and his Great White Northern Paris Hilton daughter, Alexis (Annie Murphy) to dwell in the eponymous town, a rural hamlet he once purchased as a joke for David’s birthday.
The pilot was incredibly smart and funny. I decided to watch another episode, and then another. Within two weeks, I had watched all five seasons, one of which I had to purchase in full via Amazon because it wasn’t yet up on Netflix. I had wept openly no fewer than ten times. And I unabashedly loved every single dude on that show.
I loved David, whom Daniel Levy imbues with as much warmth and heart as he does ridiculous affectation. I loved Roland, whom Chris Elliot gives far more charm and appeal than one might imagine, considering Roland’s propensity for uncertain hygiene and rude behavior. I loved Mutt (Tim Rozon), Roland’s son, who is fairly stupid but extremely hot and generally well-meaning. I loved Ted (Dustin Milligan), Alexis’s on-and-off boyfriend, who starts out as a generic goofball and, like the show itself, becomes far more nuanced as time goes on. I loved Patrick (Noah Reid), David’s business partner-turned-boyfriend, who becomes his fiancé in a scene that for the life of me I cannot believe I didn’t see coming. (Yes, I cried.)
And I loved Johnny Rose, who is like my own dad in his aptitude for business, his sense of identity as a leader, his occasional great anxiety, and his even-keeled, unflinching devotion to his overdramatic family. The way he confusedly but patiently supports his queer son reminded me of how my dad rolled with me coming out to him as bisexual. In my twenties, deep in some hipster fog of American Apparel and alternative comedy shows, I chose to call him on a Sunday in June to give him this piece of information. I had neglected to note that it was also Father’s Day. Total David move.
They are good people, every single one
Of course, I adored the women characters on the show. Catherine O’Hara is so extraordinary as Moira Rose that I could devote ten separate essays to her brilliance. As Alexis, Annie Murphy makes some of the funniest physical choices I’ve seen on TV in a hot minute. Stevie (Emily Hampshire), Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson) and Twyla (Sarah Levy) are all lovable, nuanced characters. I came up in stand-up comedy, and I am generally very pleased to see funny women get abundant screen time.
Perhaps the men of Schitt’s Creek stood out to me because I didn’t expect to find them so compelling. Daniel Levy and his writing team have given us a town of kind-hearted guys. Sure, some are crusty on the outside, but these fellows are seemingly devoid of racism and homophobia. They are good people, every single one.
Like Disneyland’s Main Street USA, the show isn’t meant to be realistic. It isn’t a documentary series or an anthropological research paper. It’s as idyllic a vision of small-town life as anything The Andy Griffith Show ever gave us. And it delivers unto us men who are sometimes selfish, vain, fearful, rude, and gross, but who are never less than kind at heart.
I’m lucky, as are all fans, that we found this show thanks to the CBC or Pop or, most likely, Netflix. It’s an escape into a better world, one where love in many forms is possible and even probable, where dudes can date dudes or ladies or both or neither and it’s no big deal, where guys can wear shit-caked work boots, nicely pressed suits, or extravagant black caftans and still be good men. This is our happy place, our pop culture vacation spot, our ideal version of a world worth waking up for every morning. It’s called Schitt’s Creek, and it’s where we live.