It seems impossible that six seasons have passed and we’re down to the final episode of Schitt’s Creek.
Loyal fans could never get enough Schitt’s and giggles. The acclaimed comedy opened big in January of 2015, with back-to-back episodes watched by close to 1.4 million Canadian viewers. The weekly tally always swelled as the Live+7 numbers came in, and, over the years, while the live numbers went down, Schitt’s became CBC’s biggest gainer among shows watched in the days following each episode’s live premieres. This season-to-date, it is averaging close to 650,000 viewers a week, sixth highest total for a Canadian series.
The series, created by the father and son team of Eugene and Dan Levy, certainly got the full promotional push. I remember being in Cannes for the annual TV marketplace MIPCOM before the series premiered in Canada. Eugene himself worked the ITV booth, helping close lucrative international sales.
Back home in Toronto, early in the series’ run, I visited the set at Toronto’s lakefront Pinewood Studios. There I met with Levy again, who told me, sure, the network did object to the title. Tough Schitt, he told them. The title stays.
Later I checked out the Rose family’s favourite diner and other standing interiors. In one of them, I was granted 15 minutes with Catherine O’Hara, and we spent 14 of them talking about Sister Martha Ann. She was the nun back in the day who wielded a mean strap as principal at Our Lady of Peace elementary in Etobicoke. While Catherine is a few years my senior the O’Hara’s already stood out in that suburban parish years before she gained fame through SCTV and fortune through Hollywood movies. There were plenty of eccentric characters and voices in that ‘hood to bank and store in her wildly creative noggin’.
The main cast members made the scene a few times at Television Critics Association press tours. It was fun talking with Eugene Levy, who was proud and astonished that his son seemed able to magically step up so quickly on the series, not just as a writer and a producer but also as an actor.
“He never did anything remotely like this before,” said Eugene, who is generally quite subdued in person. There’s never any loud, brash, “Howareya!” He doesn’t appear to have an ounce of Bobby Bittman in him. Interviewing one of the deans of the Canadian comedy scene is more like speaking with an accountant. He became quite animated, however, as we connected as dads, both sharing pride in two sons named Dan.
It didn’t take long for the series to gain more raves and accolades from the States than in Canada. The pickup by Pop TV president and former CTV and Much exec Brad Schwartz vaulted that small cable channel into a billion-dollar enterprise, establishing a comedy beachhead.
Just prior to this final season launch, I interviewed Annie Murphy (Alexis) and Noah Reid (Patrick Brewer, who plays David’s fiance) at the CBC Winter launch. These two rode the crest of the show’s popularity during the more recent live cast appearances throughout North America, with stops in Atlanta, Atlantic City, Nashville, Chicago, New York and Boston as well as Vancouver and Toronto.
“It’s pretty surreal actually,” Reid, 32, observed. “The last year we’ve gotten to meet some incredible people whose work we love, like Elton John. John told Dan that his work was timeless or ahead of its time. Then we found ourselves at the Emmys and thought, okay, sure, that’s where we are right now…”
“We’ve traveled all over North America with the live tour,” added Murphy, echoing Reid assessment that the international attention has been surreal. “We’re enjoying it now because I don’t think that these projects come around all that often.”
Walking away from the ramshackle Schitt’s Creek motel exterior set (located in Mono, Ontario) for the last time was “incredibly bittersweet,” says Murphy. “To realize that I’m never going to see Catherine O’Hara walk into a room as Moira ever again is a harsh reality.”
The Schitt’s Creek finale airs Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on CBC. Watch as David stresses out over his wedding day. That’s followed at 8:30 with “Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell,” an hour-long look at moments from the series.