Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Catherine O’Hara arrives on the red carpet at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 11, 2018. Canadian “Schitt’s Creek” star Catherine O’Hara has won an Emmy Award for lead actress in a comedy series. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Eugene Levy, from left, Annie Murphy, Daniel Levy and Catherine O’Hara cast members in the Pop TV series “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a portrait during the 2018 Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at the Langham Huntington hotel on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Willy Sanjuan - Invision
The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” Eugene Levy, left to right, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy pose at their Emmy Awards celebration party in Toronto on Sunday, September 22, 2020 in this handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ana Sorys *MANDATORY CREDIT*

The fish-out-of-water Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” made history for its swan song season at the Emmy Awards Sunday night, nabbing all seven categories in which it was nominated, including best comedy series.

In posts on Twitter, the CBC and Pop TV said it’s the first time a comedy or drama has swept all four acting categories, while the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences declared it’s the first time a series has won all seven comedy categories.

It’s also the first time a Canadian show has won an Emmy for best comedy series, beating out heavyweights including “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Insecure,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

All four key cast members also snagged acting trophies, including Hamilton-born Eugene Levy and Toronto-born Catherine O’Hara. They play Johnny and Moira Rose, the parents of a formerly wealthy family adjusting to a humble life in a small town the father once bought as a joke.

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods for playing their children, David and Alexis.

Daniel Levy, who is Eugene’s son, also won a writing award and a directing trophy he shares with filmmaker Andrew Cividino for the Ontario-shot show, which ended its sixth and final season in April.

“We’re all just walking around in a daze,” Daniel Levy said in a phone interview after “Schitt’s Creek” steamrolled through the pandemic-adjusted virtual Emmys, snagging the first seven honours, which were handed to the winners by Emmys representatives in hazmat suits.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable, and I am thrilled to have represented Canada tonight.”

The father-and-son Levys co-created the show, which also got two Emmys earlier this week, for costuming and casting.

The two announced last year they would make this past season the final one, wanting to go out on a high note with international accolades for the story’s joyful spirit and positive LGBTQ representation through David, who identifies as pansexual (someone who is open to all sexual orientations or gender identities).

“Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance and that is something that we need more of now than we’ve ever needed before,” Daniel Levy said in accepting the best comedy series trophy at a private party at Casa Loma in Toronto, where the cast had gathered sitting apart and wearing masks, adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“I just wanted to say for any of you who have not registered to vote please do so, and then go out and vote because that is the only way that we are going to have some love and acceptance out there. Please do that. I’m so sorry for making this political but I had to. Dad, do the rest of the fun stuff.”

Eugene Levy then thanked a slew of supporters, including the CBC and Daniel for taking their story about the Rose family and transforming it “into a celebration of inclusivity, a castigation of homophobia and a declaration of the power of love.”

“Schitt’s Creek” was up for a total of 15 Emmys this year. Last year it had four Emmy nominations but didn’t win any.

“It’s actually kind of unimaginable, this experience,” Levy said in Sunday’s interview with The Canadian Press.

“I thought at best we would be justly rewarded if Catherine won, if my dad won. I had no expectation for anything else. Obviously, you certainly hope for the best. But I’m an incredibly pragmatic and rational thinker, and the idea of truly believing that we have what it takes to win all major categories was unbelievable.”

The half-hour program was considered a hidden gem until about two years ago, when it became a cultural phenomenon as the Roses shed their superficiality and accepted their new lifestyle in the town run by Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott).

Johnny, a former video store magnate, became co-manager of the motel they lived in. Moira, a former soap star, reignited her acting career. Alexis went from apathetic to ambitious, starting up a public relations career. And David opened a successful boutique shop with his eventual husband, played by Noah Reid.

Critics and audiences alike praised the Roses’ quirky and amusing ways — from Alexis’s catchphrase “Ew, David” to Moira’s dramatic elocution and beloved wigs.

“I will forever be grateful to Eugene and Daniel Levy for bestowing upon me the opportunity to play a woman of a certain age — my age — who gets to fully be her ridiculous self,” O’Hara, 66, said Sunday in her acceptance speech.

“They gathered the most beautiful, fun-loving people in Toronto — cast and crew — and then, by example, led us all to be the best we could be for each other.”

Murphy called her time on the show the best six years of her life.

“I am so proud of the cast and the crew and the writers, and I can’t believe Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are my friends,” she said in her acceptance speech.

“I’m so proud to be a part of a show that stands for love and kindness and inclusivity and acceptance, because those four things are things we need more than ever right now.”

The Los Angeles-based Jimmy Kimmel hosted the live Emmys, which aired on ABC and CTV from a near-empty theatre as winners spoke from their respective locations.

“You’re witnessing a Schitts-krieg,” he quipped as the “Schitt’s” wins rolled in.

VIDEO: Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy urges Canadians to take online class on Indigenous history

Eugene Levy and O’Hara have won Emmys together before, for writing on the sketch comedy series “SCTV Network” in the early 1980s.

Levy told The Canadian Press he hoped Sunday’s wins will help “open the door a little bit further for other Canadian shows to be seen and respected and recognized on the world stage.”

The wins add to the pressure the Levys are now facing to one day bring the Roses back, perhaps in film form, he added with a laugh.

“At this point, the idea better be a damn good one if we’re going to top this experience.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press


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