Schitt's Creek (stylized as Schitt$ Creek) is a Canadian television sitcom created by Dan and Eugene Levy that aired on CBC Television from January 13, 2015 to April 7, 2020. It consists of 80 episodes spread over six seasons. Produced by Not a Real Company Productions, the series follows the trials and tribulations of the formerly wealthy Rose family when they are forced to relocate to Schitt's Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke. Now living in a motel, Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) and Moira Rose (Catherine O'Hara)—along with their adult children, David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy)—must adjust to life without money and with each other.
The series was conceived when Dan Levy wondered how the wealthy families frequently depicted on American reality television would react if they were stripped of all their money. He further developed the series with his father, Eugene, before pitching the series to several networks in Canada and the United States. The series was first sold to CBC Television in Canada and later to Pop TV in the United States, where it debuted on February 11, 2015.
Schitt's Creek received widespread acclaim, particularly for its writing, humor and acting. The series has won various accolades, including two ACTRA Awards and 18 Canadian Screen Awards. It is the first Canadian comedy series to be nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Comedy Series. It also received two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, including Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series. O'Hara received both a SAG Award and Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her performance. For its portrayal of LGBTQ+ people, the series received a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series.
The wealthy Rose family—video store magnate Johnny (Eugene Levy), his wife and soap opera actress Moira (Catherine O'Hara), and their adult children David and Alexis (Dan Levy and Annie Murphy)—lose their fortune after being defrauded by their business manager. They are forced to rebuild their lives with their sole remaining asset: a small town named Schitt's Creek, which Johnny had bought for David as a joke birthday gift in 1991. The Roses relocate to Schitt's Creek, moving into two adjacent rooms in a run-down motel. As the family adjusts to their new lives, their well-to-do attitudes come into conflict with the more provincial residents of Schitt's Creek, including mayor Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott), his wife Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson), and the motel's manager Stevie Budd (Emily Hampshire).
Cast and characters
- Eugene Levy as Johnny Rose
- Catherine O'Hara as Moira Rose
- Daniel Levy as David Rose
- Annie Murphy as Alexis Rose
- Chris Elliott as Roland Schitt
- Jennifer Robertson as Jocelyn Schitt
- Emily Hampshire as Stevie Budd
- Sarah Levy as Twyla Sands
- Dustin Milligan as Ted Mullens
- Noah Reid as Patrick Brewer (seasons 4-present; recurring season 3)
- Tim Rozon as Mutt Schitt (seasons 1-3; guest season 4)
- Karen Robinson as Ronnie Lee
- John Hemphill as Bob Currie
- Rizwan Manji as Ray Butani
- Marilyn Bellfontaine as Gwen Currie
- Robin Duke as Wendy Kurtz (seasons 2 & 5)
- Steve Lund as Jake (seasons 2-4, 6)
- Jasmin Geljo as Ivan (seasons 2 & 3)
- Ennis Esmer as Emir Kaplan (season 5)
- Richard Waugh as Herb Ertlinger (seasons 1 & 6)
- Sarah Power as Tennessee (seasons 2 & 3)
- Elizabeth McEachern as Robin (seasons 1-2, 4-6)
- Shakura S'Aida as Lena (seasons 2 & 3)
- Lili Connor as Grace (seasons 2-6)
- Brandon Rollo as Eric (seasons 1-2, 4)
- Louise Nicol as Doris (seasons 2 & 3)
- Varun Saranga as Gary (seasons 3 & 4)
Development and production
Dan Levy came up with the idea for the show while watching reality television. He told Out.com, "I had been watching some reality TV at the time and was concentrating on what would happen if one of these wealthy families would lose everything. Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians without their money?" He turned to his father, Eugene Levy, to help develop the show; Eugene Levy came up with series title. Daniel Levy originally decided to make the location of Schitt's Creek vague, but in August 2018 said that it is in Canada.
The Levys initially pitched the show to several networks in Canada and the United States. Cable networks HBO and Showtime passed on the series, while broadcast networks ABC (United States) and the CBC (Canada) expressed interest. The show was first sold to the CBC, but the Levys decided against ABC as its U.S. broadcaster due to the network's alleged history of creative interference. Schitt's Creek eventually found a U.S. home on Pop TV after striking a deal with network head Brad Schwartz, who had previously hired Daniel on MTV Canada. ITV Studios Global Entertainment also partnered with the CBC and Pop to distribute the show worldwide. The majority of production costs are covered by the CBC.
During the early stages of development, various networks suggested the title of the show be changed to make it sound less profane. The Levys resisted these suggestions and argued "Schitt" was a legitimate last name. To prove their point, they brought pages copied from a phone book to the CBC showing listings for individuals with the "Schitt" surname. The CBC agreed and allowed the Levys to keep the original title. The name has still faced censorship issues during promotional tours in the United States, with many networks shortening the title or providing extra disclaimers before using it on-air.
Daniel Levy initially envisioned the series ending with season five, but agreed to a sixth season after receiving a two-year renewal following the show's fourth season.
Catherine O'Hara was the series creators' first choice for the role of eccentric family matriarch, Moira Rose. O'Hara had previously worked with Eugene Levy on SCTV, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, and For Your Consideration. She initially turned down Levy's offer to star in Schitt's Creek, citing "laziness" and an aversion to long-term projects. Levy reached out to another unnamed actress, but continued to court O'Hara for the role. O'Hara eventually agreed to participate in the presentation pilot with no obligation to continue in the role after Schitt's Creek was ordered to series. After the show was picked up by the CBC, O'Hara agreed to continue in the role.
Annie Murphy was offered the role of spoiled socialite Alexis Rose after actress Abby Elliott, who had portrayed the character in the presentation pilot, was unable to continue when the show was picked up to series, due to scheduling conflicts. Murphy first auditioned for the role in Los Angeles, where Daniel Levy said she stood out due to her "wonderfully natural likability." Eugene Levy was unsure of Murphy's casting because she did not possess the blonde hair he had pictured for the role of Alexis. Murphy was subsequently called back for a second audition for a different role, sarcastic motel clerk Stevie Budd. After this audition, Daniel Levy convinced his father that Murphy could dye her hair blonde, and she was officially cast as Alexis Rose.
Emily Hampshire was cast as the deadpan motel clerk, Stevie Budd, after auditioning for the role in Los Angeles. She originally requested to submit a taped audition on account of her nerves and recurring hives breakouts. Hampshire ultimately agreed to audition in person, but states she has no recollection of the experience. According to Daniel Levy, who was present for the process, Hampshire gave a "great" audition, then proceeded to lift her shirt over her head to hide and slowly rocked back and forth. Levy later told Hampshire he found her audition "charming," and she was offered the part of Stevie.
Noah Reid was offered the role of David's business partner and love interest, Patrick Brewer, in season three. Daniel Levy was socially familiar with Reid and invited him to audition on the suggestion of Stacey Farber. Reid had never watched the show before he auditioned and was unsure how long the character would be a part of the series. Daniel Levy was not present during the audition process and could not chemistry test with Reid before he was cast.
Other cast regulars Chris Elliott and Sarah Levy were given the roles of Roland Schitt and Twyla Sands, respectively, without auditioning. Elliot says when Eugene Levy offered him the role of the titular town mayor, he thought, "Why would I say no?" Sarah Levy, the real-life daughter of Eugene Levy and real-life sister of Daniel Levy, was asked to be a part of the show before it was fully developed. She says she was glad not to be cast as Alexis, as being out of her real-life family's orbit on the show allowed her to "do [her] own thing."
Schitt's Creek is produced by Not a Real Company Productions in association with CBC and Pop TV. Pop TV joined the production team in season two after the series' first season was produced solely in association with CBC. ITV Studios Global Entertainment also partnered with the CBC and Pop to distribute the show worldwide. Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Fred Levy, Andrew Barnsley, and Ben Feigin have served as executive producers throughout the show's entirety. Other executive producers have included writers Kevin White (seasons two and three) and David West Read (seasons five and six). Eugene Levy served as showrunner alongside co-creator and son, Dan Levy, during the series' first season; Dan Levy took over as sole showrunner beginning in season two.
Schitt's Creek was part of a "new direction" in programming taken by both CBC and Pop TV during the 2014-15 television season. Premiering alongside 12 new primetime shows on CBC, the series represented one of the network's efforts to produce more "serialized, scripted" content, as well as more "cable-like" shows. The series was also the first original, scripted program to air on Pop TV after its re-branding in January 2015. Formerly known as TV Guide Network, Pop TV was re-branded as a channel "filled with optimism, passion, funny and excitement."
Filming style and locations
Schitt's Creek is filmed using a single camera set-up with no live audience or laugh track. The interior scenes for the first two seasons were filmed at Pinewood Toronto Studios in Toronto, while interior scenes for season 3 were shot at Dufferin Gate Studios in Toronto. Interior scenes were also filmed at Revival Studios in Toronto for an unknown number of seasons. The remainder of the series is filmed on location in Goodwood, Ontario, the Regional Municipality of Durham of the Greater Toronto Area, and Mono, Ontario, where the motel scenes are filmed. Goodwood was one of 30 towns scouted for the fictional location of Schitt's Creek before production of the series began in 2014.
The series has filmed in several additional locations during its run. The opening shot of the first season features Lisa Vanderpump’s former Beverly Park estate as the façade of the Rose family estate. Interior shots of the Rose family estate were filmed on location in a Sistine Chapel-inspired mansion in Toronto. Main Street Stouffville, Ontario served as a filming location for an unspecified number of scenes in the series' first two seasons. Scenes involving the fictional retailer, Blouse Barn, in seasons two and three were filmed on location on Main Street in Unionville, Ontario. In the season four episode "The Jazzaguy," scenes involving a spa retreat were filmed on location at Monte Carlo Inn in Vaughan, Ontario. Exterior filming also took place at Rattlesnake Point in Milton, Ontario for season five's "The Hike." In season six's "Smoke Signals," the series shot on location at Graydon Hall Manor, a wedding venue in Toronto. The series also filmed in Bay-Adelaide Centre and Toronto-Dominion Centre for the season six episode "The Pitch." Additional filming for several season six episodes took place at a local motel in Brantford, Ontario.
Schitt’s Creek features several musical performances from its main and supporting characters. The majority of these performances feature the town singing group, the Jazzagals. The Jazzagals' main members are Moira Rose, Jocelyn Schitt, Twyla Sands, Ronnie Lee, and Gwen Currie. Throughout the series, they have covered “It’s Raining Men,” “Baby, I’m Yours,” "Takin’ It Home," "Silent Night," and "Islands in the Stream."
In season four’s “Asbestos Fest,” David and Moira perform a duet known as “The Number.” This compilation of holiday songs was regularly performed at the annual Rose Christmas party and included samples from “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” “Deck the Halls,” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The song was arranged by Moira’s portrayer, Catherine O’Hara.
In season four’s “Open Mic,” Patrick sings an acoustic cover of Tina Turner’s “The Best” as a declaration of love to David. The song was arranged and performed by Patrick’s portrayer, Noah Reid. After airing on Schitt’s Creek, Reid’s version of the song was released on Spotify and iTunes, where it reached #1 on the Canadian charts. All proceeds from the single were donated to the Ontario charity, LGBT Youth Line.
In season five’s “The Hospies,” Alexis auditions for a community theatre production by singing “A Little Bit Alexis,” the theme song from her defunct reality show of the same name. Alexis’ portrayer, Annie Murphy, who wrote and performed the song for the show, says she drew inspiration from the pop songs of Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan. Menno Versteeg and Nixon Boyd of the Canadian band, Hollerado, also helped produce the song. “A Little Bit Alexis” was released as a single on Spotify and iTunes, where it reached #28 on the Canadian charts. Partial proceeds from the single were donated to MusiCounts, a Canadian organization providing music resources to schools in need.
In season five’s “Life is a Cabaret,” several main characters perform “Willkommen” from the musical Cabaret. Stevie also sings a second number, “Maybe This Time,” as her Cabaret character, Sally Bowles, in the same episode. Both songs were performed in front of a live audience during filming.
In season six's "Happy Ending," the series finale, the Jazzagals sing a cappella versions of James Morrison's "Precious Love" and Tina Turner's "The Best" at David and Patrick's wedding. Noah Reid's Patrick also sings a portion of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" as part of his wedding vows to David in the same episode.
Schitt's Creek has been co-broadcast in Canada and the United States since 2015. The show initially premiered on the CBC in Canada on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm/9:30 pm NT with the first two episodes ("Our Cup Runneth Over" and "The Drip") airing back-to-back. It made its debut in the United States on Pop TV on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 10:00 pm ET/PT. Pop moved the series to an 8:00 pm ET/PT time slot with an encore broadcast at 11:00 pm ET/PT for seasons two through four; it returned to its original 10:00 pm ET/PT time slot for season five. The series maintained staggered premieres throughout its first five seasons, with new episodes debuting in Canada before being broadcast in the United States. This changed in the final season, with new episodes being broadcast simultaneously in Canada and the United States. The series finale aired on April 7, 2020 at 8:00 pm ET; it was followed by a one-hour behind-the-scenes retrospective documentary titled Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt's Creek Farewell. The finale, which was also broadcast on Logo and Comedy Central, was Schitt's Creek's highest-rated episode ever broadcast in the United States.
As of 2019, the series also airs on 4Music in the UK; Viacom 18 in India; Fox Asia; and ABC Comedy in Australia. It was previously broadcast in New Zealand by TV2 and TVNZ on Demand, in Australia by ABC and its iView streaming service, and on Comedy Central in India. The five seasons appear, though not always together, on different streaming television services worldwide. Netflix carries the full series for viewers in the U.S., UK, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, and Australia. IMDb TV, a streaming service available through IMDb, and CW Seed, a streaming service for the American CW network, also carry the first five seasons for viewers in the U.S.
In December 2019, fans on social media accused UK television station 4Music of censoring some scenes featuring "intimate dialogue" and kissing between the show's LGBTQ characters. Co-creator and star, Dan Levy, also addressed the alleged censorship on social media calling it "highly disturbing" and "dangerous." 4Music responded to the allegations of censored kissing with an apology, stating that the removal of a kiss between two male characters was "human error" and would be restored for future broadcasts. The station did not specifically respond to the allegations of censored dialogue between LGBTQ characters.
In 2018, Debmar-Mercury, a division of Lionsgate, acquired the U.S. syndication rights to Schitt's Creek. The series is scheduled to debut in syndication on Fox Television Stations throughout the U.S. during the Fall 2020 television season.
The first season of Schitt's Creek received generally positive reviews. It holds an approval rating of 61% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 6.38/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The title is one of the best jokes of Schitt's Creek, but performances from Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara give the writing a comedic boost." On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 64 out of 100, based on 11 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews." Vinay Menon of the Toronto Star wrote that the show "is one of the best CBC comedies in years." After being picked up by Pop, the Los Angeles Times described the show as "very funny, beautifully played, [and] sometimes touching," although Mike Hale of The New York Times called Schitt's Creek "drab and underwritten."
Subsequent seasons of Schitt's Creek have been more positively received, with the show growing in popularity after debuting on Netflix in January 2017. On Rotten Tomatoes, seasons 2, 4 and 5 have approval ratings of 100%, with season 4's consensus reading, "The comedic real estate value rises for Schitt's Creek in its fourth year, the series gradually maturing into appointment viewing with a big, beating heart beneath its absurdity." Bridget Read of Vogue wrote that while the series "started off with typical fish out of water scenarios," it has "fully come into its own, with a whole cast of Twin Peaks-meets-Christopher-Guest-universe characters that are as equally endearing." In New York Magazine, Maggie Fremont wrote that "the show takes a few episodes to get into its groove, but once it does, you’ll never want to leave." The series has placed on annual best-of lists published by Esquire, Glamour, The New Yorker, and Variety. In 2019, the series was named "The Best Show on TV Right Now" by TV Guide.
The series has also been praised for its portrayal of a pansexual character, played by Dan Levy, as well as for how David's sexuality is simply accepted by the other characters with no expressions of homophobia in the storyline.