So, I love writing blogs. But I also like to mix it up a bit. So in the spirit of allowing you, dear reader, to get to know me a little better, I thought I’d write about something personal, yet non-work-related for a change. Well, sort of non-work related.
At the beginning of Lockdown 1, way back in March 2020, I along with many others had a little more time on my hands, and inevitably some of that time was given to Netflix. I had heard of a little comedy show that starred “the Mum out of Home Alone and Beetlejuice”, and thought I’d give it a whirl.
For those of you that aren’t familiar, Schitt’s Creek is the story of the Rose’s - a very wealthy family, led by self-made man Johnny and his more-than-slightly affected, faded daytime television star wife, Moira. The Rose’s, which also include 31-year-old son David and 27- year-old daughter Alexis, lose all of their money due to the corrupt business practices of their Finance Manager and are forced to relocate to the only asset the Government allowed them to keep - a small, backwater town called Schitt’s Creek, that Johnny “bought” years ago as a joke. They subsequently move into the only lodgings available - a dirty, dilapidated roadside motel, sharing two rooms with adjoining doors.
The pay-off for us, the viewer, was initially centred around a term I find fascinating - “schadenfreude” - which is essentially when one derives pleasure from another’s misery. The first season was all about this - revelling in the misery and entitlement of these people that are now forced to live like the rest of us, with all of the usual challenges that we face, but that they are completely unaccustomed to or prepared for. Now this is all well and good, but actually, how long can that be funny for, really? There’s only so many times that sharing a bedroom, begging to borrow cars and wearing Dolce & Gabbana to pick up roadkill can be funny, right? And that’s usually once. So imagine my surprise when, just as I was getting bored of this by the end of season 2, things sharply turned around. Almost without realising it, I had stopped revelling in their designer-clad misery, and actually begun to like them. As the seasons progress, the Rose’s grow to become humble and likeable human-beings, and as their newfound life situation begins to change them for the better, they too begin to have a profoundly positive effect on the little town of Schitt’s Creek.
Put simply, by the end of the final episode, I had found my all-time favourite show. The characters had become surprisingly multi-dimensional for a comedy (well, apart from Roland, who I still can’t stand, but, as Moira says, “every party has its pooper”), the stories and events were genuine and heart-warming, and the progression believable. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve re-visited Schitt’s Creek in the last 12 months - often it’ll be streaming on my iPad whilst I cook, or on in the background whilst I fold washing. If I’m wired at the end of the day and need a wind down before bed, I step into that scruffy little town and let my day go. It’s pleasure and escapism, but for me it’s also something more.
Now, I’m not afraid to say I’m an emotional creature. Having devoted the last decade or so to developing my emotional intelligence and self-awareness, I’ve learned to love and appreciate all the feels. So when I find something that gives me all the feels, I’m happy to latch on. Schitt’s Creek does just that. I remember clearly the night that Boris first told us we “must stay at home” and being completely bewildered, but later that night watching the episode “Family Dinner”. I couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed so hard as I watched Moira and David try to “fold in the cheese” (if you know, you know), and I rewound and re-watched the scene several times, in stitches. What a gift on an otherwise very bleak day. But whilst Schitt’s Creek is funny, its humour is less comedic and more ironic. The REAL emotion in the show comes from its ability to create truly moving moments, made all the more significant by the fact that these shallow, entitled people were starting to learn what’s really important in life - relationships.
So as much as I have laughed, I have cried. And So - spoiler alert - here are my top 11 (I couldn’t get it to 10) best moments from the show, selected because they have one thing in common - they brought a tear to my eye.
11. Moira says goodbye to the Jazzagals
In the penultimate episode of the series, we finally got a glimpse of remorse at the prospect of leaving from the one who never lost sight of the fact that the future of the Rose family lay beyond the fields of Elm Valley. After revealing in “The Jazzaguy” that Moira actually mildly enjoyed her weekly rehearsals with the women of Schitt’s Creek and their singing group, when it came time to say goodbye, her understated, yet heart-felt words of gratitude, followed by a resigned group hug from the gals, was absolutely the Hallmark moment we’d been waiting for from the wigged one. The beauty and the bucolic.
10. Johnny puts his ‘friends’ in their place
This was the turning point for me. In the final episode of season 2, Johnny and Moira come face to face with their past and their present when they unwittingly end up having dinner with their old “friends”, Don & Bev, and their closest current acquaintances, Roland and Jocelyn. Johnny witnesses his own entitlement in the behaviour of his estranged friends, and immediately jumps to the defence of Schitt’s Creek and its thrifty inhabitants, finally realising that those with far less had done more for him and his family than their rich, former friends. As he proudly announces that Schitt’s Creek is where he lives, Roland and Jocelyn exchange tactful smiles, and for the first time in 2 seasons I found myself giving Johnny Rose a little air punch. After the dinner, the 4 inhabitants return to their hometown and join a party with David, Alexis (much to their horror) and the rest of the main characters, the Rose’s dance together “as a family”, and - perhaps for the first time ever - proclaim their deep love for each other. Precious love, indeed.
9. Stevie asks David not to go
There are only a few seminal moments that solidify the depth of David and Motel-owner Stevie’s friendship. Recovering from the “Lover’s Curry” together, and the monogrammed towels Stevie gifts to celebrate David’s engagement are two such moments, as is the exchange they share whilst sat on Stevie’s hood in front of the house that reminds David of Kate Winslet’s cottage in “The Holiday”. It is here that Stevie, honest to a fault, during the penultimate episode, challenges David’s resolve to return to New York to a life that did nothing but hurt him purely to satisfy his pride. Followed by the swift addendum that she desperately wanted him to stay. In the end, it wasn’t his fiancé that talked him into staying, but David’s first and only best friend. And all of a sudden, we had a reason to weep for David’s imminent departure. That reason’s name was Stevie.
8. Moria crashes Alexis’s Graduation
It was a long-standing joke throughout the series that Moira and Alexis had a less than perfect relationship. Often wary of spending time with each other, the two started out relatively estranged, with Moira’s affections being firmly camped with her son. Cue awkward lunches, revelations that the two didn’t even have each other’s phone numbers and both being constantly embarrassed by the other. But as time progressed, a friendship between the two began to blossom. After telling her mother not to attend her decade-delayed high school graduation, Alexis found herself secretly wanting her parents to come. After scouring the audience from the stage and realising her mother wasn’t there, she was just about to leave the auditorium when the curtain parted to reveal the Jazzagals - led by Moira - who had prepared a song just for Alexis. Pride beamed from both of them, and tears streamed from us.
7. The Jazzagals sing at the Christmas Party
This list makes it seem like the Jazzagals performances played a massive part in the show, and they really didn’t. Maybe that’s what made it all the more special when we were treated to a song. After finally succumbing to his situation and deciding to embrace his new life, Johnny resolves to begin enjoying Christmas again and, at the last minute, tries to throw a Christmas party. After some expected turbulence, it eventually goes off without a hitch, and the star on the tree is an impromptu performance of Silent Night from the Jazzagals, that is absolutely beautiful. I don’t know whether or not these moments were made more sentimental by the bleakness that surrounded them, but I do know that I too, like Stevie, was using “we ran out of wine” to explain my teary eyes. But in truth, the gals sounded beautiful.
6. Johnny and Moira depart
Even though David and Patrick’s wedding doesn’t feature on this list, it was always going to be beautiful and a blub-fest. The parents departure was the last of 3 tear-jerking moments from the finale (the wedding being the penultimate, and moment 5 below being the first). After watching the documentary “Best Wishes, Warmest Regards”, it’s no surprise that the tears shed by the characters, as their life in Schitt’s Creek as they knew it ended, were very, very real. We will miss them as much as they’ll miss each other. We all secretly hoped (with futility) that they would, for whatever reason, end up staying in that little town that had had such a profound effect on them, and that they had equally impacted. But it was not to be, so we bid Johnny and Moira farewell, safe in the knowledge that a very bright future beckons for all of them. A future that, sadly, we won’t be a part of.
5. David and Alexis finally validate each other
“Hey Alexis, find a stick, and...” (oh, how I longed to hear how that sentence ended).
And, of course, “Ew, David!”
There’s was like any sibling relationship - especially considering they were suddenly (and well into adulthood) required to share a bedroom. They bickered, wound each other up and loved to hate each other like any brother and sister. And this was the source of many a laugh for us, the audience. There were the odd moments of sibling love and loyalty - David confessing to worrying about Alexis constantly as she galavanted around the world with one questionable man after another, Alexis using her influence to painfully secure David a business deal with Ted’s new girlfriend - but the real moment of validation came as Alexis waited to walk David down the aisle. As she stressed over her gown (it was basically a white wedding dress), she revealed that all she wanted to do was impress her big brother on his wedding day. To which, he replied, “for what it’s worth, I am continuously impressed by you”. It was all delivered with the usual mix of neediness and nonchalance, but the words said it all. In that moment, both couldn’t help but realise just how much they meant to the other. When David choked back tears as Alexis told him she loved him, we choked them back to. And then she gave him away.
4. Patrick proposes to David
I unashamedly adored watching David and Patrick’s relationship unfold. Like many great relationships, it was the imperfect perfection of the pairing that made it so compelling, so heart-warming and so uplifting. Not to mention how much of a non-issue their same-sex romance was in the small town. The show has received so much praise for depicting how love and relationships should be viewed and treated by society in general, but even more so in smalltown America. And so, after passing every relationship test with flying colours, it was no surprise that Patrick would ask David to marry him. I won’t spoil the moment with details, but needless to say, the build up, the writing and the incredible acting made for a fantastic moment in Television. And led to the first Times Square billboard featuring two men kissing. Now that’s progress.
3. When Stevie killed it as Sally Bowles in Cabaret
In the Schitt’s Creek universe, Stevie was always a questionable choice for the lead in the community theatre’s production of Cabaret. Shy, deliberately “under-the-radar” and all in favour of a quiet life, it was indeed, as Moira called it, “an inspired piece of stunt-casting”, and Stevie had more than a few wobbles as she prepared to carry such a big weight on such tiny, reserved shoulders. But as viewers, we all knew that Stevie was going to rock. She’s too beloved a character to be given such a rough deal as to fall on her arse on stage. But quite how emotive and powerful her performance of Sally eventually transpired to be was the surprise. Following an interval pep-talk from Moira (that may have been one of the matriarch’s most sincere and compassionate exchanges in 6 years), Stevie gave us goosebumps with her rendition of “Maybe This Time”. The tears were down to Emily Hampshire’s usually understated and acerbic Stevie finally stepping into her awesome power as a modern, independent woman who refuses to follow the crowd - but knocks it out of the park anyway. There was no “maybe” about it - this time, she won.
2. When Alexis and Ted let each other go
I think it’s safe to say that the greatest transformation on the show is our sweet Alexis. She went from shallow, self-involved Instagram fodder to a woman of means, mind and substance. We got a first glimpse of it when she left the Vets Office to go to college. But it was this pivotal moment, when she finally accepted that sometimes she can’t have everything her own way - and that’s as it should be - that defined the emancipation of Johnny and Moira’s darling debutante. As the two on-again-off-again lovers agreed to finally let each other go, despite their love and gratitude for each other, I couldn’t help but share their tears. And it’s safe to say this scene alone won Annie Murphy her Emmy.
1. Patrick comes out
Along with the finale, “Meet the Parents” is quite possibly one of the most perfect episodes of television ever. After Johnny accidentally “outs” Patrick to his parents, threatening to ruin Patrick’s surprise birthday party, what could have been a truly devastating turn of events is handled beautifully. David offering Patrick such empathy despite his hiding of their relationship was surpassed only by Noah Reid’s stellar performance, as Patrick finally reveals all to his parents. His fear - and relief - was palpable, but it was a Masterclass in how parents should respond when their child tells them they’re in love - regardless of who it’s with. And oh, there were tears, right to the end of the episode, as David and Patrick solo danced in an empty Cafe Tropical, surrounded by crab-cakes, and Patrick thanked his partner for doing everything he could to make his party - and indeed, his life - so good.
I’ve scarcely done it justice, so even if you’ve read this whole article, I urge you to watch. There’s never been a better time for a reminder of what’s truly important in life.