Schitt’s Creek‘s first season aired early January 2015, but now that the whole first season is available on Netflix, it’s an ideal time for those unfamiliar with this bold, quirky comedy to jump on-board. The show opens with the fall from grace of the irresponsibly wealthy Rose family–Johnny, Moira and their two adult children David and Alexis–whose mansion and it
‘s contents are repossessed after a business venture goes radically astray. The in medias res start to the show sets a precedent for the narrative pace of the Rose’s story, where every line of dialogue is quick-witted and sharp, and the social fires spring up faster than the ex-millionaires can put them out. Having lost their home, their belongings, their savings, and their social status, Johnny and Moira Rose move the family out to their last remaining asset: a small town called Schitt’s Creek, which Johnny claims to have bought for his son David “as a joke.” Living in a small, run-down local inn, with two rooms between the four family members, quickly reveals that the family has very little in common outside of their extravagantly expensive tastes and a colossal sense of entitlement. Johnny tries desperately to sell off Schitt’s Creek in order to return the family to their former glory; Moira tries to go back to work in TV as a local commercial personality; Alexis falls for a hippy ex-con during a shared bout of community service roadside clean-up; and David finds an unconventional friend in Stevie Budd, the lone employee of the inn.
The trailer for Schitt’s Creek does not do the show justice and I doubt I would have pursued it if it wasn’t for the excited email Netflix sent me upon the show’s arrival in their queue. What seems like a trivial, tired story (“rich people don’t know how to be normal”) surprised me with a memorable cast, clever and unexpected sources of humour, lovably horrible characters, and an honest commentary on family, money, love, sexuality, growing up, and how quickly a games night can be wrecked by too much beer and a bottle of vodka. Schitt’s Creek has a good balance of the family’s selfish antics, undoubtedly the most fruitful source of comedy, and genuinely touching moments as the down-on-their-luck Roses learn how to love each other without their money and mansion as a buffer. Although the comedy isn’t quite as tightly written and original, SC actually reminded me a lot of Arrested Development; if you are a fan of the money-hemorrhaging Bluth’s and their awkward family relationships, then this show might be for you. And I take my love of Arrested Development very seriously, so I don’t say this lightly!
The family dynamic between Johnny, Moira, David, and Alexis is outrageous, cold, shocking, begrudgingly affectionate, and hilariously off-beat. David and Alexis, sharing a room as siblings for the first time in their privileged lives, argue about who should have to take the bed closest to the inn door and, thus, be at the greatest risk of “being murdered”; Johnny and Moira struggle to be intimate as their children misunderstand the very basic boundaries of privacy and personal space; social-butterfly Alexis struggles to fit in at a drunken games night that she “hosts” out of her and David’s motel room; David misunderstands what “minimum wage” really means when he looks for a job to make the credit card payments that used to be handled by his father.
Each of the Roses has a larger-than-life personality–the suave businessman father, the ex-TV star mother, the uptight and entitled son, the spoiled brat daughter–that clash with each other, as well as the lower-middle class residents of the town that have now become their sole asset, their home, and their only hope for survival. The writing of the show provides the sort of snappy back-and-forth dialogue that is endlessly quotable and gets funnier the more you hear it and become familiar with the cast and their quirky standoffishness. Some of it is even weirdly relatable, like David’s hilarious aversion to “milky” bugs, overly-tense rounds of drunken charades, Moira’s breakdown in her closet after Googling her name on the internet, and the ever-classic poop joke (what do you expect with a title like “Schitt’s” Creek). My only major complaint with the show is the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the cast. It is surprisingly white-washed given its liberal representation of sexual identities (a huge plus) and a plot hinged on an upper-class family’s experience with “the real world” outside of their pristine, privileged existence. Fingers crossed that season two will address this lack somehow.
Honestly though, there is something for everyone in Schitt’s Creek and I have recommended it personally to family and friends alike (with rave reviews, all around). The episodes are short enough that it’s the perfect rainy day binge-watch and it has been green-lit for a second season, so now is a great time to get started. Schitt’s Creek was an accidental find and pleasant surprise that I would recommend to any fan of high energy, character-centric TV comedies.