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Schitt's Creek - Why It's The Best Comedy You're Probably Not Watching

Imagine, one day your family loses their entire fortune and is only allowed to keep one asset, a small town that was bought as a joke that you had entirely forgotten about. Now you have to leave behind the only life you've known and start a new life that's the exact opposite of what you're used to. It sounds farfetched, but that's the premise of hit Canadian comedy Schitt's Creek.

A reference to the expression 'without a paddle' (you know what the full expression is), Schitt's Creek sees the Rose family move to the titular town and struggle at every turn adjusting to small town life.

Johnny (Eugene Levy), the patriarch, made his fortune setting up and running a Blockbuster-esque chain of video stores. Moira (Catherine O'Hara), the matriarch, is an ex soap opera actress with an overstated flair for the dramatic. David (Dan Levy), the only son and seemingly favoured child, is a professional failure, whilst his sister Alexis (Annie Murphy) is almost the black sheep of the family, if black sheep were overly pampered and still living with their parents. The main cast is then rounded off with Stevie (Emily Hampshire), the owner of the motel where they live, Roland (Chris Elliott), the mayor of Schitt's Creek, and Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson), Roland's wife.

When the show first premiered in 2015, we were meant to take joy from the utter cluelessness and desperation of the Rose family as they suffered as a result of their change of circumstances. A true fish out of water tale. The show had a lot more crude humour in the first season than it does now, and that may have put some people off, but it truly was a diamond in the rough. As the show grew, it morphed more into a somewhat mature, ensemble family comedy with a surprising amount of heart and depth. The interplay between the main quartet is impressive. Eugene Levy plays Johnny as understated and just a regular guy, which is in complete contrast to his on-screen wife, who is as extravagant, self-interested, and overly dramatic as they come. For me, Moira is the standout character of the main cast. She's played effortlessly as a wig-collecting, over-the-top extraordinaire, who can lie, use accents, and demand attention at the drop of a hat. She toes the line of believability and incredulity masterfully and there is no way you can't laugh when she's in her element.

Another comedic aspect that is played to a strong advantage is the physical comedy that is a quintessential part of the show. Every character of the Rose family has signature mannerisms, but also the family resemblance is absolutely there and it's completely believable that they actually are related. Their mannerisms and manner of speaking further attest to the spoilt and entitled characters we meet in the pilot, and just add to the comedic value. The exaggerated way this is portrayed just adds to the humour and is usually the opposite to the characters they interact with outside the family. The cast chemistry is sublime and it really does shine through in scenes, even if there are only two characters, or sometimes even one. That's one of the reasons why Schitt's Creek is so successful comedically; it doesn't just rely on one type of humour or one type of character to make you laugh.

With the premise it has, some people might think there isn't a long term life on it, but the terrific writing which is propped up by superb one liners and great delivery from all the cast (ranging from Moira's over confident inflections, to Stevie's deadpan remarks, to David's anxiety ridden insecurity) means that this show still has a lot of mileage left. As the show has developed, the characters have become less of the stereotypes they may have appeared to be in season one, and are now multi-faceted, and absolutely relatable even though they shouldn't be.

Schitt's Creek has definitely evolved from some of the tropes it used to use for comedic effect, but it definitely laid the groundwork for some important discussion in it's freshman season. The show features one of the only out pansexual characters on TV, something which is completely unwavering throughout the series, and is discussed frankly and sensitively whilst still having a comedic touch and without being seen as a big deal. In a TV world with very little canon representation in this area, and sometimes with unfavourable endings for LGBTQ+ characters in general, it's a breath of fresh air.

Is it the most diverse comedy on TV? No, not really (that would probably go to Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine for me), but with a new season on the way, there's always time to improve.

All of the best comedies seem to have dysfunctional characters that we can identify with, but are also just different enough that we can get entertainment from them. That's what this show is for me. Television is one of the most sincerest forms of escapism, and that's why I can get enjoyment from Moira's funny yet cutting remarks, whilst I would hate someone like her in real life. It's why I can get happiness when I see a character like David, who may appear entitled and clueless at first, but has genuine and real struggles with self-worth that aren't related to his sexuality. Every episode I see something that balances the line between reality and improbability, and it's a treat to watch.

Schitt's Creek is a show with a slightly off-beat vibe that has gone from strength to strength every season writing-wise, and craftily and fully exploits its strengths. Hopefully that trend will continue for seasons to come.

Schitt's Creek airs on CBC in Canada, Pop TV in the US, and Netflix in the UK.
Season 4 is expected to premiere in January 2018.

Do you watch Schitt's Creek? Do you have any favourite lines, episodes, or characters?
Please leave a comment below if you do or if you're interested in watching!