At-home streaming options are now endless and the list of what to watch grows ever-longer. But now that I can binge shows and get through them faster, I’m left hungry just as often, searching out a new one. It’s always a question of what’s next. We don’t often look to our friends to the North for television options—which is a shame considering the number of comedians Canada has exported to the U.S.—but Amazon Prime recently imported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-produced sitcom Schitt’s Creek, and it’s worth a watch. [Schitt’s Creek’s second season is currently airing in America on Pop TV on Wednesdays at 8 / 7 C.]
Created by Eugene Levy and his son Daniel Levy—who both star alongside Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy—Schitt’s Creek is a fish-out-of-water sitcom that follows the uber-wealthy Rose family after they’ve lost their absurdly-sized fortune. With nowhere to go, they move to Schitt’s Creek, a small town that family patriarch Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) once bought his son David (Daniel Levy) as a joke. Forced to live out of a motel, the Roses struggle to make a small town life without caviar, Porsches or breezy, last-second trips to Ibiza. The show follows them as they try desperately to sell the town to another unwitting buyer and get enough money to get out of dodge. Here’s a few reasons the show’s worth your time.
Schitt’s Creek features excellent performances from a cornucopia of comedy luminaries, and the show is slaying it in the casting department. You may remember Eugene Levy from all eight American Pie films (there are eight [!?!?!] American Pie movies?!?), not to mention his days with SCTV, and he’s joined by fellow SCTV alum (not to mention alum of every Christopher Guest film) Catherine O’Hara. On top of it, Chris Elliott plays Roland Schitt, who owns the motel and happens to be the town’s mayor, and who hits all the perfect smarm notes while somehow managing to remain lovable. Rounding out the Schitt’s Creek roster is excellent Canadian actress Emily Hampshire as Stevie Budd, front desk person at the motel, who’s the perfect sarcastic, deadpan straight man to David Rose’s one-percenter whining.
Comedy veteran Catherine O’Hara is a particular stand out among so many already fantastic performances, putting in an outstanding turn as a former soap opera actress who’s given up the stage but not the melodrama. In many ways, recalls her role as Delia Deetz in Beetlejuice. The entire show is worth watching just to see her meltdown as she gives acting lessons to middle school teens or drunkenly shoot a commercial for a terrible winery.
Despite that it’s set in a small country town, the show never goes for cheap laughs at rural people’s expense. Schitt’s Creek may have a ridiculous name and a mayor to match, but most of its residents play the reasonable folks to the Rose family’s outsized entitlement and luxury addiction. Even when Moira thinks she’s doing Roland’s wife, Jocelyn, a favor by gifting her an ugly designer fur coat, Jocelyn quietly gives it away, unimpressed by the label, simply because it’s not her taste. And most of the jokes come at the Rose family’s expense, as this show makes a point to punch up and not down. The townsfolk might not be sophisticated, but they’re not stupid, either. And on occasion, they find common ground—like when Roland and Johnny bond over their disappointment in their children while at a barbeque.
That heading might be a misnomer, because what’s actually nice is that David’s sexuality isn’t addressed until well into the series. There’s no point explaining it until romance and sex come up, so it just isn’t remarked upon at all until then. Those around David interpret him as gay—Jocelyn at one point asks him to give advice to a troubled teen, saying, “I get the feeling you were the kind of person who didn’t fit in in high school.” But as he later explains to Stevie, who pointedly uses a wine metaphor to explain she’s straight, “I like a wine and not the label. I like red wine, but I also like white, and sometimes a nice rosé.” His father later explains David’s sexuality as “pan-sexual,” but David himself resists even that label.
For the most part, this show is pretty joke-centric (albeit mostly character-based jokes), but one aspect that’s heartwarming is the friendship that develops between David and Stevie over the course of the first season. She has the sort of sharp edges and wry personality that would be charming anywhere (or am I the sole weirdo who always loves those people?), but in a place so small, it’s clear why she and David are kindred spirits surviving the circumstances through sarcastic quips.
Season 2 of Schitt’s Creek started airing on Pop TV on March 16th and it’s available through Amazon Prime for $19.99, and Season 1 is available to stream with Prime.
Erica Lies is a writer and comedian in Austin, Texas. Her work has appeared in Splitsider, Bitch, Rookie Mag and The Hairpin.