It’s hard to believe that, in 2019, a TV show has managed to make so many of us care about a once-wealthy family who’ve fallen on hard times and forced to find themselves again in your average, rural town. But that’s the magic of Schitt’s Creek — or perhaps it’s the show’s greatest trick. In these uncertain times, where it grows easier and easier to loathe the uber-wealthy (and frequently, rightfully so), Schitt’s Creek has offered up to us the Roses — Johnny (Eugene Levy), Moira (Catherine O’Hara), Alexis (Annie Murphy), and David (Dan Levy) — a family we never should have warmed to and wanted to see recover. Seriously, what’s so likable about a bunch of clueless, feckless, self-absorbed folks who fall on their faces after being bamboozled by the family accountant and are forced to move to a small town patriarch Johnny bought as a joke for his son’s birthday? Answer: everything.
Like many U.S.-based fans, I came Schitt’s Creek late (sorry!). The Canadian export debuted on the Pop TV channel in February 2015, with each season making its debut on the channel before also coming to Netflix once the season has wrapped. The popular Canadian series has found a second life thanks to its additional home, acquiring even more new fans directly related to its easier accessibility on the popular streamer. But what I, like the rest of my Schitt’s Creek brethren, quickly discovered is that this comedy of some big fish suddenly thrust into a small town pond is deeply likable and watchable, offering to us all the holistic happiness equivalent to Eat, Pray, Love but with more wigs and less pasta.
Full disclosure, I’ve seen Seasons 1 through 4 of Schitt’s Creek somewhere in the double digits. It’s easy to get sucked in but that’s genuinely not a bad thing. What never ceases to amaze me is that, no matter how many times I watch Alexis charm Twyla for another smoothie at the Cafe Tropical instead of paying or see David rack up charges on the Blouse Barn company card because “it’s a write-off”, I’m always charmed. I want to know more about them, I want to see more good things come their way. Yes, Moira’s wigs are outrageous and yes, Johnny’s own brand of adorable but occasionally self-righteous bumbling dad can be a little bit extra. But in a world where actual privileged folks frequently get to benefit from a system designed to help them and fuck the rest of us, the Roses rise above. The biggest punchline of the entire series is that these people we’re meant to read as privileged, callous, selfish, and unchangeable actually change for the better.
Even more delightful about Schitt’s Creek is the fact that there exist enough episodes to feel like there is one to tap into for every occasion. Going through a break-up? Watch Alexis’ break-ups with Mutt and Ted. Feeling the high of a new job but unsure of what comes next? Watch the Season 5 premiere as Moira navigates the highs and lows of making a dirt-cheap horror flick in Bosnia. Are you in need of some comfort? Watch the holiday special, “Merry Christmas, Johnny Rose.” Do you just want to laugh? Then obviously start at Season 1, Episode 1 and call me in the morning.
As you watch (and oh, you will watch since every episode is an easily digested 20-ish minutes long and this show doesn’t know what you mean by the term “lag”), it becomes clear the Roses are fallen Richie Riches with 24k gold hearts. They’ve lived their lives in a way that never could have prepared them to one day live a small-town life in a motel on the outskirts of town while earning minimum wage.
But somehow, against all odds, Roses find a way to reboot their lives without turning on one another, wallowing so long in their change of fortunes that they become hardened, or put their foot down and refuse to adjust. No, instead, every family member finds a way to begin writing their next chapter, contributing to a life reboot with some truly beautiful results. They learn from their mistakes, they keep moving forward, they never give up. Johnny ends up as the co-manager of the Rosebud Motel, Moira is elected to City Council, Alexis gets her G.E.D. and finds purposes working at the local vet’s office, and David opens up his own store full of artisanal goods. Their old life is gone and truly, what’s in the past is in the past. But what softened me is that these people see the beauty of the possibilities that come with embracing a life they never planned for. True to the Schitt’s Creek town slogan, they’ve found a place where they truly fit in.
Even though you feel like you shouldn’t support Johnny, Moira, David, and Alexis in the beginning, as we approach the sixth and final season it feels unimaginable to do anything but cheer them on. Regardless of whether these characters are deeply relatable, Schitt’s Creek is using them to highlight contemporary issues around class and wealth without feeling stuffy. In a world where second chances feel so few and far between for us all, this show has managed to illustrate it’s possible by showing us that if formerly rich assholes can transform into beloved average townsfolk, then we’re already winning and can hit it even bigger in the future.
This is what makes Schitt’s Creek so eminently watchable, time and time again: the Rose family is so deeply relatable and endearing and dysfunctional without being grating. The way the Roses develop truly seals the deal on deciding whether it’s worth cheering for this TV family and investing in Schitt’s Creek. It’s worth it; go watch.
Schitt’s Creek Season 5 is now available to stream on Netflix. You can stream all five seasons on Netflix as well as Pop Now. Season 6 premieres on Pop TV in January 2020.