Posted by Nanditha Ravindar
In March 2021, the Canadian television show Schitt’s Creek bagged two Golden Globe Awards – the first for Best Actress in a Television Series (Catherine O’Hara), and the other for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, thus adding to a long list of accolades the show has been garnering. Schitt’s Creek did a lot of things right to have acquired the massive fanbase they have been enjoying and have also been criticised for the white man’s burden and saviour complex projected through the characters in the show. Yet, one thing that stands out as unique in Schitt’s Creek is Alexis Rose’s character arc.
One of the four main leads in the show, Alexis Rose (played by a brilliant Annie Murphy) starts off as a character that could very easily be typecast and stereotyped – a rich, spoilt fashionista with a slew of adventures and boyfriends to her credit. There have been a lot of other television shows and movies which have given us fashion icons, be it the hugely popular Rachel Greene from F.R.I.E.N.D.S., Emily from Emily in Paris, or Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. However, there isn’t a single character which has had as much of a character growth as Alexis’ character had in Schitt’s Creek.
The show starts off with the Rose family – Johnny Rose, Moira Rose, David Rose, and Alexis Rose, which has suddenly become bankrupt. They are thus forced to move to a small town called Schitt’s Creek, which Johnny had bought as a birthday gift for his son David years ago, as a joke. How the Rose family adapts and accustoms themselves to the small-town life, living in a motel, forms the rest of the show.
Alexis Rose finds the transition extremely challenging initially, to say the least. Over the course of a few episodes, viewers understand that Alexis had a penchant for finding herself in adventurous and dangerous situations. She is extremely fashionable and has never had a serious relationship in her life, only a string of exciting relationships which change as fast as seasonal fashions do. Alexis, however, slowly begins to change in the new life she finds herself in. She goes back to finish high school in her late 20s, sees it through, and then enrolls herself in college, majoring in marketing and public relations (although her certificate says “pubic relations”). In order to earn some money and to support her family, she also takes up her first job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic.
As a person who had exposure to a lot of places early on in life due to her travel experiences, Alexis Rose is street-smart and adept at putting things together and making optimum utilisation of her skills and knowledge. Whether that is to get her brother David a contract for his apothecary shop, or to promote her mother’s new film, she is shown to excel at using her skills to further progress, hers as well as that of others.
Apart from all this, the show also beautifully portrays her evolving understanding of relationships. In the car with a nervous David who cannot stop thinking about failing at his driving test again, Alexis says to him that “Trust me, people aren’t thinking about you the way that you’re thinking about you,” something which David imbibes, leading him to succeed in his test. Through her relationship with Ted Mullens (portrayed realistically and subtly by Dustin Milligan), we see Alexis begin to value substance over artifice, appreciate the finer things about relationships, and understand what a healthy and mature relationship looks like. Alexis Rose endures a long-distance relationship only to then realise it has to end as they both want different things from life. The break-up scene is wonderfully shot, showing viewers that not all relationships end because things are ugly; sometimes, they have to end even when the two people involved do love and respect each other immensely. The time when Alexis has to decide what she wants — a better life away from Schitt’s Creek or to stick to Alexis Rose Communications (her very own PR firm) and when she chooses the latter and the struggle that comes along with it, Alexis again shows how far she has come when it comes to things that matter. Through all of this growth and evolution, Alexis retains her individuality, her little quirks and mannerisms, including her fashion sense which is also commendable because the core of who she is does not change.
Although we have seen portrayals such as that of Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, or Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde where we see the characters grow, you would be hard pressed to find a character arc that is as evolved, satisfying, and realistic as that of Alexis Rose. From a spoilt, materialistic, and irresponsible person to a mature, kind, and responsible professional, the writers of Schitt’s Creek do a fabulous job of giving Alexis Rose the most character growth in the entire show – portraying her as a sensitive, emotional, and a headstrong person who isn’t afraid to chase what she wants professionally and personally, while also knowing when it is time to let go, even if it is someone she loves.
Nanditha Ravindar is a development sector professional and a communications specialist with a soft spot for everything pertaining to gender and education. A voracious reader, the breadth of her bookshelf influences her writing greatly. When she isn’t busy reading or writing, you can find her indulging her inner foodie or kicking back with Tamil 90s music. You can find her on LinkedIn and GoodReads.
Featured image source: Netflix Canada