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A Wholesome Comedy That’s Anything But “Schitt-y”

Under the mask of an eyebrow-raising title, lies an iconic specimen of comedic brilliance. Schitt’s Creek is a light-hearted TV series that has been deemed as “simply the best” in today’s world of modern-day comedy sitcoms. All 80 episodes of this popular sitcom encapsulate the jovial escapades of the Roses, an immensely wealthy family that goes broke overnight only to find themselves trapped in their last straw of an asset, a small countryside town that is the show’s namesake.

A quirky family of four – the mollycoddled David & Alexis, played by Dan Levy & Annie Murphy respectively, their pompous mother Moira, played by the legendary Catherine O’Hara and the naive, yet bold father played by Eugene Levy – make up the four protagonists of Schitt’s Creek. We see the Rose family struggling to adapt to a modest lifestyle from a lavish one in the most ludicrous of ways. “I’d kill for a good coma right now” – as exclaimed by Moira – gives us a broad understanding of the ridiculous and hysterical ways in which the family copes with the collectively “traumatic experience” of losing their affluence.

Ironically, the theme of the show showcases the “punching up” style of comedy, which has been orchestrated by the creators quite uniquely. Although the hapless conditions of the protagonists are discernible, the viewer doesn’t get the slightest chance to sympathise with the Roses, in fact, they easily manage to get a good laugh at the expense of their misery; such is the creative genius of the writers. The portrayal of this “Rags to Riches” theme is in itself an uncommon concept but Catherine O’Hara’s character manages to single-handedly carry this gimmick to the very end of the show. Her self-important, haughty, wig-loving character exhibits nothing but the gold standard of comedy in today’s time. Besides the occasional “lock-me-in-the-closet” outbursts by O’Hara’s character (which goes on to become one of the trademarks of the sitcom), the show incessantly thrives on subtlety. Even in dramatically demanding scenes like marriage proposals or heart-wrenching break-ups, there isn’t a single “over the top” element produced by any of the actors that would make you cringe. This drives home for the viewers, who still manage to perceive the depth of every scene and end up shedding a tear or two.

Although the show in no way puts up a dogmatic narrative, the low-key hints that the storyline imparts on the realities of life cannot be overlooked. For instance, the pitfalls of boundless wealth and affluence on children are portrayed profoundly in the show. The lack of confidence of Johnny and Moira in their children when they venture into independent careers or the way in which they justify themselves as “good parents” because they sent their kids to the “best of boarding schools” prove to be some good cases in point. The show also does its part in depicting a humanitarian angle to the plot, albeit in its own charming and humorous way. The newly destitute Roses are welcomed with open arms by the town’s residents, with whom they eventually foster healthy relationships. On the other hand, the people whom the Roses considered as friends had abandoned them right after they lost their wealthy status. This is nothing but a commentary on the flawed concept of superficial relationships which get easily influenced by irrelevant factors like “social status”.

Credits: POPTV

Of all the dynamics that were established between the Roses and the side-characters, the one that people admired the most was the union of David and his partner, Patrick. The show’s entire essence of razor-sharp subtlety played right into the wheelhouse of this on-screen relationship. For once, the viewers got to witness a truly normalised same-sex relationship in a mainstream TV series, considering the “smalltown” life that the show depicted. What made this component stand out is the fact that the relationship was not just unsegregated from the main narrative as a “gay relationship”, but was also treated as a central plot point throughout the show. This led to an outpour of appreciation and affection for the show from all over the world. Although the show had myriad things to love and had already gathered oodles of admiration, their non-preachy and normalised approach towards representing the LGBTQ+ community added a whole bunch of cherries on the cake. A noteworthy mention here would be David’s iconic dialogue where we saw him make a reference to his pansexual identity – “I like the wine and not the label” – which became a mantra that would echo through pride parades for years to come.

This show has widely been termed as a sitcom like no other. One can feel the smooth sailing while binge-watching the series and witness how the storyline perfectly ties itself together without any loose ends. A conventional, mainstream sitcom is driven by ratings, which leads it to have a ceaseless runtime. Even though the popularity of Schitt’s Creek increased exponentially in 2019 and 2020, it didn’t subscribe to this conventional routine and followed its own pace. The six seasons of the show beautifully captures the nuances of the unique theme and plot line and hardly gives anything for people to complain about in the end. Although word-of-mouth has helped a great deal in promoting the show, what helped increase its traction was probably the record-breaking 9-award-sweep of the comedy genre at the 2020 Emmy’s. After being an “underrated runner” in the market for five of its six seasons, it’s safe to say that the journey of Schitt’s Creek effortlessly culminated on a “beautiful high”.

Diptarka Chatterjee is a student pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Varda Ahmad

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.

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