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An Exemplar Among Comedy Shows

Family is a collection of people we can rely on through the good, bad, ugly, and mundane. This collection is one of the purest forms of relationships that humans can experience. Identities like socioeconomic status, LGBTQIA, and ethnicity are not the crux of a family. Amidst the dumpster fire that society can be, humans can find relief in family. Family can be all these wonderful things, but sometimes they’re just people we see on holidays.

Schitt’s Creek explores the institution of family in a hilarious way. In addition to being one of Carol Burnett’s favorite shows, Schitt’s Creek is a perfect sitcom. Creator Dan Levy had an idea for a show, and after a grueling conversation with his dad, Eugene Levy, they came up with the series. From the mysterious location of Schitt’s Creek and its residents to the Rose family’s growth, Schitt’s Creek is laugh-out-loud funny and raises the bar for sitcoms.

Reality-Based Inspiration for the Series

Canadian Broadcasting Company

Mega-comedian Eugene Levy has two children, Dan and Sarah, whom he raised in Los Angeles with his wife. Growing up in Los Angeles, specifically around actors, is a unique experience. Dan Levy’s unique upbringing and a famous reality show family served as inspiration for Schitt’s Creek. In an interview with Reality Blurred, he revealed that he was watching reality TV and asked himself, “Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians without their money?” This question led to Levy rushing to his father’s house to write a pilot based on a wealthy family that loses all their money.

Schitt’s Creek even opens with Lisa Vanderpump’s mansion from the Bravo reality series The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Though the homage to reality TV and wealthy family lifestyles extends into the fashion on the show, Alexis’s wild life, and Moira’s career revival.

Related: Schitt’s Creek’s Eugene Levy Addresses the Possibility of a Series Comeback

Each member of the Rose family is a caricature of some element of a reality TV star. Moira Rose is like Kris Kardashian, over the top and loves the spotlight. Johnny Rose is like Rob Kardashian, in the background and supportive of his family. Alexis is a mix of Khloe and Kim Kardashian as she respects her parents, but definitely wants to be the center of attention. David, like Kourtney Kardashian, is the eldest and would be happy living on an island with a collection of fine knits and his love, Patrick.

The Rose Family Casting

The cast of Schitt's Creek
ITV Studios Global Entertainment

In the Netflix special Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell, the cast reflects on their journey from auditioning to the final day on set. Annie Murphy, who portrays Alexis Rose, auditioned for both Alexis and Stevie, the sarcastic hotel receptionist. But Dan Levy knew immediately she would be perfect as Alexis. As co-creators, it was natural for father and son to cast themselves as on-screen father and son, Johnny (Eugene Levy) and David (Dan Levy). The only role left to cast in this riches-to-rags family was the mother.

Just as the Levys made an entire backstory for each character, it was important for the actors who were cast to embody the past, present, and future of their character. Alexis had to be someone who was selfish but lovable. David would need to be over the top but wise. Johnny needed to be the ultimate dad that was anxiety ridden but protective. So, the mother, Moira, needed to be someone who could be overly dramatic in a hilarious way. Enter Levy family friend and iconic actress Catherine O’Hara.

In the Netflix special, O’Hara revealed she initially turned down the role, but thanks to Dan encouraging his dad to call O’Hara to reconsider, she accepted the role. Though the casting of the Rose family was a special affair, the series is a family project. Dan didn’t just cast himself and his father in the show, but he asked his sister Sarah to play Twyla, a waitress on the series.

Related: Schitt’s Creek Cast: Where They Are Today

A Schitty Paradise

ITV Studios Global Entertainment

When the Rose family lost all their money due to their financial advisor stealing all their money, their lawyer revealed a small slice of Heaven. For one of David’s birthdays, his parents jokingly purchased a town for him. As owners of the town, they had a place to stay. Though upon arriving in the town, they realized the joke was on them. Schitt’s Creek was a small town with one road with all the businesses, including a motel with no more than ten rooms. This motel would serve as the Rose’s home until they could get back on their feet.

Even though the town was founded and run by the Schitt family, the actual location of the town is unknown. According to Screen Rant, the location of Schitt’s Creek or where the Roses lived prior to the motel was never revealed. This is actually a genius move on the writers’ part. The ambiguity of the unknown location adds layers of comedy to the Roses’ situation. Small town stereotypes can be played on while also elevated into a real place with real people.

For example, Moira has the hardest time adjusting and after hearing enough mocking, her new best friend Jocelyn Schitt calls her out quite gently. She reminds Moira that you can gather more bees with honey and right now, she needs to realize her former life is just that: former. Though it’s unintentional, Schitt’s Creek serves as a brilliant ad for small town living.

Minimal Character Growth

Schitt's Creek Canadian TV Show
ITV Studios Global Entertainment

An important component for any story is the character arc. Each arc has to align with the character in a believable way. Some shows are intentional with the arcs, whether it’s the villain becoming understood by the audience or the hero revealing a dark past they are paying penance for by good deeds, the character arc is just as significant as the cast and location of a series.

In the case of Schitt’s Creek, the Rose family was neither hero nor villain, but rather people who minimally changed at their core, which is another note of inspiration from reality TV. Each member of the Rose family remains true to their core. Moira still craves the spotlight, but learns that success is a team effort. Johnny never removes his rose-colored glasses, but it allows him to see the potential in others even if they don’t see it themselves. David is still crotchety, but allows love to soften him a bit.

Of course, it’s Alexis who experiences the most growth in spite of her selfishness. Like many people who believe that youth equates to beauty and worth, Alexis accepts that she can be smart and chic without dumbing herself down for attention and likability. Because each character remains selfish or oblivious on some level, the comedy flows steadily until the final moment of the series.

This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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