‘Schitt’s Creek’ Brings Love, Canadian Style | Modern Society of USA

‘Schitt’s Creek’ Brings Love, Canadian Style

‘Schitt’s Creek’ Brings Love, Canadian Style

The way Catherine O’Hara says “Alexis” is the most important spin on saying a name since Jerry Seinfeld snarled “Newman.” It’s affected and strangely accented, with too much time on the L sound, and extra air in the second syllable. It’s a to-do. And it’s one of the most consistent pleasures of the consistently pleasurable “Schitt’s Creek.”

That’s the show: funny and light and loopy, able to make a meal out of what seemed like a snack. The show’s fifth season, which starts Wednesday on Pop, finds it having perfected its formula. Big on love, big on reactions, big on outré black-and-white outfits.

“Schitt’s Creek” follows the Rose family’s fall from grace: Johnny (Eugene Levy) used to run a video store empire, and his wife, Moira (O’Hara), was a soap star. After their business manager wipes them out, all they’re left with is the deed to a town they bought as a joke gift — so they slink off there, with their adult children David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy), and hole up in the town’s rundown motel. The motel’s surly clerk, Stevie (Emily Hampshire); the town’s dopey and disgusting mayor, Roland (Chris Elliott); and the mayor’s accommodating wife, Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson) become fixtures for the Roses.

At a time when sitcoms are prone to seriousness — the “Will & Grace” reboot had a frank discussion about sexual assault, characters have died from drug overdoses on “Mom” and an annotated copy of “Nicomachean Ethics” wouldn’t hurt for watching “The Good Place” — “Schitt’s Creek” is even more welcome. It’s silly but not stupid, and it’s feel-good in the best possible ways. The characters can be stuck up, but the show is Canadian: No one wants to be truly rude. The co-creators Eugene and Dan Levy — father and son in life and on the show — have created a sweeter, gentler world than ours; the problems are sillier and the solutions involve musical performances more often than the solutions in our dumb boring real lives seem to. Redemption is never more than 21 minutes away.

The family members never fully adapt to their new circumstances. But things do change: David eventually opens a skin care and lifestyle shop, Alexis graduates from a certification program, Moira joins a women’s singing group among other civic organizations and Johnny and Stevie eventually run the motel together. The more enmeshed the Roses have become in their Schitt’s Creek community, the more the show has blossomed.

Learning to trust that and to rely on the foundational gentleness of its world is how “Schitt’s Creek” has improved steadily since Season 1, which was often glib and noisy. Things picked up in Season 2; by Season 3, the show found its groove, with story lines arising more organically. Some of the contentiousness waned, especially between Alexis and David. While the siblings rarely get earnest with each other, they often make the exact same expression: a half-cringe, half-pout, while they look up and away, typically while complaining or avoiding something. The shouting among characters is now less chaotic and more direct.

The show also gave in to its romantic inclinations, and it’s all the better for it. Part of why “Schitt’s Creek” can get away with its zanier stories is that it is anchored by the unshakable love between Johnny and Moira, the realest thing in the show’s universe. In one episode in Season 4, while Alexis is pining for an ex, Moira comforts her by recounting when she herself pined for Johnny before they got together. Even though Alexis and her mother have a strained relationship — Moira has always favored David — it’s clear that Alexis knows, completely and firmly, that her parents’ love for one another is as solid as solid gets.

Of course Alexis’s path to love doesn’t run smooth, nor does David’s. David’s pansexuality isn’t ever a problem; it’s his issues with closeness that get him in trouble. His aversion to and awkwardness around intimacy — he’s only ever said “I love you” twice to his parents, “and once at a Mariah Carey concert” — keep things from getting too sappy. David’s burgeoning relationship with his business partner, Patrick (Noah Reid), moves from cute to #goals when Patrick serenades David with an acoustic cover of “The Best.”

“Schitt’s Creek” doesn’t have any real villains, and the biggest obstacles are only ever hubris or funding. No one’s truly against anyone else, and that underlying sense of collaboration creates a sense of peace when you watch the show. We’re all on the same team. The same ridiculous, over-the-top team.

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