Thu. Nov 21st, 2019

Emmys 2019: Please bébé, vote for Schitt’s Creek

Schitt’s Creek season 5 (Photo: CBC)

I’m old enough to remember the days when the MTV Movie & TV Awards were giving out gold popcorn future door stoppers only to films in categories as revolutionary as “Most Desirable Female.” In the years since Linda Hamilton’s win in that category for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the illustrious governance committee of the MTV Awards, which I assume includes a sentient can of Monster Energy Drink and Kristin Cavallari’s nanny, decided to include TV in their annual awards show, a truly great thing. The star of CBS’s Mom is winning Oscars and the six leads of HBO’s Big Little Lies have a combined box office gross of about $10 billion dollars – there is no difference between movies and TV anymore. Grumble, grumble, grumble – get off my lawn!

That’s a long way of saying the MTV Movie & TV Awards is one of the only United States awards shows to honor Canadian-produced, POP TV-released Schitt’s Creek (The show has won two Webby Awards, two Dorian Awards and a Gracie Award for Annie Frances). On June 17th, the JoJo Siwa Generation spoke, awarding series creator/star, Daniel Levy with Best Comedic Performance, for which he delivered a typically charming, inspiring, funny speech.

As with all things, The Olds ™ should take their cue from The Youngs™, and have this begin an avalanche of long overdue awards for Schitt’s Creek, starting with The Emmys:

Outstanding Comedy Series

I should begin by saying that I am very, very, VERY in the bag for Schitt’s Creek. Like many other proper millennials, I discovered it on Netflix, only really knowing that it was co-created by Eugene Levy with his son, Daniel, after it had been on the air for a few seasons. At that point, I had been hearing and reading about it everywhere; As if the Heads of State for TV Twitter, Gay Twitter and Comedy Twitter all met at Wanda Sykes’s house and decided this gem of a show should be a thing. It was a classic case of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon: once you learned about the Rose family, the wacky, but lovable denizens of Schitt’s Creek and heard Alexis say her first “Ew, David”, it was suddenly everywhere. And you were better for it.

The show’s premise is simple: The Rose’s lose their video store (!!!) empire, forcing them to move to the tiny, rural town family patriarch, Johnny (Eugene Levy, a God) once bought as a prank birthday gift for his son, David (Daniel Levy, the next generation of comedy genius). Hilarity, hijinks and personal growth ensues – never saccharine, always laugh-out-loud funny.

In its fifth season, the Roses’ luck is turning around. With their tunnel-vision goal of getting out of Schitt’s Creek by any means necessary was put to bed last year, their overall stock is soaring. Johnny’s investment in the RoseBud Motel is paying off with it winning the coveted Hospies Award; Alexis’s (breakout star Annie Murphy) PR business is off the ground, while her nascent relationship with Ted (a delightfully uncorked Dustin Milligan) is stronger than ever; Moira (Catherine O’Hara, literally incomparable), is on a creative upswing between filming her comeback role in The Crows Have Eyes III and directing the local production of Cabaret; David’s store, Rose Apothecary is thriving, as is his relationship with Patrick (port-in-the storm Noah Reid): They end the season engaged.

But here’s why Schitt’s Creek is the best show currently on television: At the height of its powers, when it could do absolutely anything with a core cast of four as supremely talented as this one, they gave the season’s best story arc to the show’s fifth lead, Stevie (revelatory Emily Hampshire). The writers, the directors and Hampshire, take Stevie from begrudgingly letting Johnny make her a believer in their now-thriving business partnership to the genuine excitement of her new fling with a motel reviewer passing through town to quiet devastation over the relationship combusting. You can feel her simultaneous reticence and desire to shake up her life when she is unlikely cast as Sally Bowles in the town’s staging of Cabaret. I can’t think of another show that would do that or would land it so perfectly.

Outstanding Direction in a Comedy Series
“Life is a Cabaret” – Directed by Daniel Levy and Andrew Cividino

The season finale “Life is a Cabaret” directed by Daniel Levy and Andrew Cividino is the one submitted for Emmy consideration for Outstanding Direction in a Comedy Series. The comedy set-up pays off in dividends with news of David and Patrick’s engagement spreading like wildfire, despite David’s very detailed plans for the announcement.  However, it’s the staging of the musical that is the true season highlight. The shooting of Stevie’s performance – and the reactions from the cast – is absolutely perfect.

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series
“The Hike” – Written By Daniel Levy

I can see why Levy submitted the penultimate episode of the season for Emmy consideration: It’s a tight script with plenty of emotional highlights for all of our characters. Patrick proposes to David, Alexis overcomes her selfishness to agree to go with Ted to Galapagos Islands for his bug-infested fellowship, Johnny thinks he’s having a heart attack, sending him to the hospital and sending Moira, Stevie and Roland all into their own personal tizzies. It’s great character growth, punctuated by the show’s sharp wit. The cold open is a thing of beauty. Moira’s laziness takes over as she needs to fold the 500 programs for Cabaret and tries to bribe Alexis and David into doing it:

Moira: THEY NEED TO BE FOLDED! AND I’VE BROUGHT YOU PASTRIES AND COFFEES!

David: OK, well this coffee has nothing in it.

Moira: Oh, it’s just a gesture David! Stop being so literal!

Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Series
Annie Murphy as Alexis Rose

The real, ongoing shock of Murphy’s performance is that she’s constantly dropping comments about her batshit crazy past (“Turkish Cosmo once included my photo in a list of world’s best sarongs, so let’s just say I know my way around a beach.”), but she does it with a marksman-like precision that goes completely against the offhanded way she delivers the information.

Her real Emmy moment of the year is the unveiling of the title track from her failed reality show “A Little Bit Alexis,” one of the greatest pieces of comedic acting ever committed to screen. Annie Murphy is a fucking star.  

Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Series
Emily Hampshire as Stevie Budd

Yeah, Meryl Streep’s guttural scream in Big Little Lies was great, but Emily Hampshire clasping her hands over her mouth at the end of “Maybe This Time” has ruined me for life. Also: A fun thing about me is, for like a month after the season finale, I would watch this scene on YouTube while on the treadmill and cry. I’m doing fine!

Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Series
Jennifer Roberson as Jocelyn Schitt

As a new, fortysomething mother, Robertson is wonderfully frazzled this season. In “Rock On!” when the Poison concert (totally on brand for our girl, Jocelyn) the Jazzagals were supposed to attend gets canceled, the ladies have a night of debauchery anyway. Yes, one of my favorite tropes is characters getting hilarious haircuts, and yes, Robertson deserves an Emmy for doing this shoulder shimmy upon getting this hilarious haircut:

Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Series
Noah Reid as Patrick Brewer
Dustin Milligan as Ted Muller

Patrick has always been the antithesis of David: Calm, level-headed, braided-leather belt wearing (How has this never come up in their relationship!?!?). While Patrick’s emotional highlight was easily his very sweet, very warm coming out to his parents, Reid earned major comedy points for The Housewarming. Seeing the always cool and collected Patrick completely unmoored by David’s innocent, brotherly spin the bottle kiss with Alexis’s boyfriend, Ted, was a jealousy-as-comedy delight.

Similarly, Ted who has always been affable, but coiled kind of tight, got to let loose in that same episode getting very drunk and very fun. Seeing our favorite, khaki wearing vet lock lips with a stunned, yet amused David was *chef’s kiss.*

Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Series
Daniel Levy as David Rose

I mean, who are we to argue with the goddamn MTV Movie & TV Awards, am I right? Levy is a dream come true, we’re lucky to have him, and watching him get tricked into being robbed by a man using a finger for a gun, is why I think comedy was invented. His performance in the last two episodes of the season, the penultimate where he gets engaged to Patrick, and the finale, where he loses control of the narrative of his own engagement announcement is a tour de force by an actor who knows his character inside and out. Give him all the awards.

Roasted: Eugene Levy in “The Roast” (Photo: Ian Watson/CBC)

Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role in a Comedy Series
Eugene Levy as Johnny Rose

Eugene Levy maybe doesn’t get the credit he deserves for so steadfastly centering the show. Johnny is, of course, the straight man to his wacky Schitt’s Creek friends, and to his own over-the-top family. In episodes like “The Hike” where Johnny is rushed to the hospital with a near-fatal case of indigestion, but insists on regaling the doctors about golfing at Pebble Beach, or his disastrous joke-telling in “The Roast”, you realize no one is doing “dad comedy” like the king, Eugene Levy.

Caw! Caw! Catherine O’Hara as Dr. Clara Mandrake in The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crowening (Photo: Pop TV/CBC)

Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role in a Comedy Series
Catherine O’Hara as Moira Rose

I mean, what’s there to say, really? Quite simply put: There is just absolutely no other actor on television doing anything even remotely close to what Catherine O’Hara is doing as former soap star, city council member, wig-fetishist Moira Rose. From the smaller moments (I live for her kicking Jocelyn under the table during Alexis’s aforementioned “A Little Bit Alexis” performance) to the tender ones (her gentle coaxing of Stevie out of her shell and onto the stage for Cabaret), she’s firing on all cylinders at all times under all wigs.   That said, the meltdown she has upon finding out her film won’t be released, is a masterclass in comedic sadness. No one crawls into a closet and slides shut an accordion door quite like comedy legend, Catherine O’Hara.

So, Television Academy, maybe it’s time to finally catch-up to those gosh darn Canadians, who have already showered Schitt’s Creek with dozens of awards. We’ve already fallen behind on the NBA Championship, they’ve got us beat when it comes to hot, level-headed world leaders and they’re essentially rubbing their universal healthcare in our grimy little, non-vaccinated faces. At this point, bestowing multiple Emmy nominations on a hilarious, heartfelt Canadian-produced show about family, friendship, love and acceptance is basically our only choice to save any kind of face on the international stage. Don’t do it for me, do it for America.

After all, what is Moira Rose’s favorite season?

Season 5 of Schitt’s Creek is currently streaming on Pop TV and should be on the top of your screener viewing pile. Emmy voting ends Monday, June 24 and nominations will be announced Tuesday, July 16. The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast Sunday, September 22 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on Fox.

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