Schitt doesn’t happen overnight. Well Schitt’s Creek took six seasons to win the nine Emmys that it did, but as an avid fan, the wait was surely worth it. The Canadian family-comedy series Schitt’s Creek made history by breaking the Emmys record for most wins in a single season for a comedy. In case you’ve missed out on catching up, Schitt’s Creek imagines and showcases what would happen to an ultra-rich family that suddenly found themselves broke, living in a motel room in the middle of nowhere.
Along with having an abundance of wit and humour sprinkled around the writing and acting, Schitt’s Creek makes an emphactic attempt to challenge conventional patriarchal structures and is a beautiful lesson in representation of sexual diversities.
A dysfunctional family’s tale, Schitt’s Creek stitches together a beautiful yet hilarious narrative of its four eccentric characters – Alexis Rose, Moira Rose, David Rose and Johnny Rose of the Rose family. The family, kaput-by-capitalism, trapped together after years of disconnect among them, learn the true meaning of togetherness and happiness in what is a series doubling up as a textbook pandemic parable.
Schitt’s Creek is incredibly progressive, comical and theatrical (dare we forget Moira’s wigs and Jazzagals). But the most delightful thing about Schitt’s Creek is that it establishes a space free from toxic masculinity. With the anomaly of the revolting Mayor Roland Schitt, who is more vacuous than misogynistic, the male characters defy most gendered stereotypes prevalent in society and cinema.
Johnny Rose who says, “I don’t know if I’m looking after this family as well as I should be”, is a failed businessman and father, on the amends. From helping Twyla, the waitress, take orders at the town café, to following through with the orders of his soapy wife, Johnny Rose has no qualms in being ordered about a bit just as much he readily takes charge of the motel. He repeatedly yields the limelight to Moira, if not willingly, certainly without any vexation.
The thing is, there are no conventional masculine structures the good men of Schitt’s Creek need to fit into.
Once proud of his “sleek oak-trimmed, leather interior, German engineered” possessions, to being left penniless, Johnny Rose’s easy-going attitude and good temperament is often tested. He tries just as hard to rebuild his family, as he does to rebuild the family’s financial empire.
Upon losing an argument, or literally losing everything he owns, one wouldn’t find him throwing a fit of rage. Ooh how unmanly right? Or well, unusual to the men we’ve known and seen.
He’s notably devoted to his wife Moira, whom he patiently backs up, be it a successful run for the town council or a whimsical hunt for her “crocodile-skin bag”. While being the most dependable and logical one in the family, he often makes space for Moira to steer the family too. He handles all her dramatic, larger-than-life expressions quite sophisticatedly. Compared to her flamboyant black-and-white couture, his sense of style is more sombre.
Moira – oh the all-enchanting Moira! The mother with a pinch of motherly instinct and one that does not remember her daughter’s middle name, Moira is the most outlandish woman in town. Her designer attire sets her apart from other locals and is employed as a kind of an armour.
With only her voguish outfits and her wigs surpassing the presence she herself makes; she’s a woman that not only speaks her heart, but her mind. Well that’s pretty uncharacteristic for a woman to do openly, isn’t it? She’s unabashedly herself, and not only does as she pleases, but effortlessly persuades those that disagree. Schitt’s Creek also critiques the notions around infallible motherhood and shows Moira and Jocelyn as mothers who make mistakes, but without a shred of judgement – just how it should be.
She assumes the role of the matriarch on several occasions, with Johnny often taking the backseat. Her attempts at mothering are usually awkward, such as the time she tells David to deep dive on the internet to search for her nudes or the quarantine-like treatment she gives to Alexis when she had a common cold.
She also prepares questions to ask her daughter while lunching, on a napkin. She’s too high-headed to even take a discount on the car dealership whereas Johnny caves easily. Her pompous tendencies are balanced by his straight jacketed nature. But all of this, unapologetically so.
This pairing continually highlights her ability to be kind and affectionate despite being a stoic character. From lamenting about her “custom made Galapagonian tortoise-shell foot bath” to counselling her kids about having basic life skills like fixing a wobbly table, she’s a true force of nature.
It would’ve been easy to pigeonhole patriarchy through Alexis’ diverse romantic partners. We get a brief access to her party-girl past that’s littered with disposable beaus and being held hostage in East Asian palaces. While one may say that Schitt’s Creek lets Alexis fall into the patriarchal trap of the woman being comically oblivious to her surroundings, she’s also the character that learns the importance of self-love, before being selflessly in love with another.
This concept is one that is usually robbed off women since it provides them with agency, and freedom from the need to be the “woman behind a successful man”. As Schitt’s Creek concludes, Alexis isn’t “behind” anyone, she’s all about being in the forefront and being her own cheerleader.
In Schitt’s Creek, there comes along Ted, the crying-howling post-break-up kind of guy that falls in love with Alexis almost instantly. He’s a vet that pays attention to how he dresses and is the conventionally clingy – “I’ll text you 20 times a day person.” (OMG, are men supposed to do that?)
Then there’s Mutt, who also falls short of the typical jock typecast. We see him as the shirtless hottie through Alexis’ voyeuristic eyes. The sexual gaze in Schitt’s Creek–the lusting, the looking, is through the eyes of the women and the queer men; and it’s almost refreshing.
Coming to the character that absolutely steals the show; the showstopper–David Rose, portrayed by Dan Levy, also the co-creator of Schitt’s Creek. A dry sense of humour that he shares with Stevie is almost emblematic of his entire existence. He’s a man that subscribed to the Cosmo Girl magazine as an adolescent, and one that uses Parisian moisturiser for his eye bags unashamedly.
He fears milky bugs, disorganisation, nature and has a general contempt for other people. He gets offended when his clothes are called “funky” and appreciates a good manicure.
David’s initial relationship with Stevie (a woman) was a deliberate move to dispel the stereotype that he is gay due to his effeminate nature. This was a carefully executed strategy, to push the boundaries of what it means to be traditionally feminine or masculine, especially as society outlines it.
David is revealed to be pansexual in episode 10 of season 1 of Schitt’s Creek in an artistically beautiful analogy. The way he describes that to Stevie talks about the commendable writing.
Stevie says, “I only drink red wine”, alluding to the fact that she’s straight. To which David replies, “I do drink red wine, but I also drink white wine. I like the wine and not the label. Does that make sense?” The cast and crew even wore shirts quoting “into the wine not the label” to the Toronto Pride Parade. The line sends a very strong message of love, kindness, representation, inclusivity and acceptance –quite the list of things the world utterly needs right now.
David’s fluid sexuality is the yarn that weaves together the poignancy of Schitt’s Creek. We watch him grow from being a victim to the city’s fake friendship-harbouring person to one that finds true love in this quaint little town.
Patrick and David’s love story is a truly delightful one. “Having swam in both ponds”, David falls in love with this simple business partner turned life partner. Ironic to how flashy the Roses are, their love story communicates how much worth and beauty lies in simplicity.
Schitt’s Creek steers clear of machismo and there is absolutely zilch homophobia in it. David is never scoffed at for wanting all the wines (and who doesn’t want more wine?). All love is love in Schitt’s Creek.
The humanist lens on Schitt’s Creek allows us to view a world unfettered by patriarchy and explore the crucial value of human connection. This journey proves to be transformational for both the characters and their viewers.
So what are your plans for the weekend? I’m just Netflixing – watching some Schitt.
Featured Image Source: NBC