For five seasons, Schitt’s Creek improved on itself with every new outing. From seasons one through five, the show gets funnier, develops its characters more fully, and offers more touching moments. Before anyone calls me a disgruntled pelican, I will open by saying that Schitt’s Creek’s sixth season represents a small dip in quality from the heights of the previous seasons. The final season, now having fully aired on Pop, retains the show’s joyous family-themed escapism and provides a satisfying conclusion to the series, even if it loses sight of some its characters’ arcs along the way. The show will also, undoubtedly, go down in television history as an important series for queer representation.
It is definitely not normal for the showrunner of a series to end a program during the peak of its popularity. If you are a fan of the series, it is actually quite likely that you just started watching in the past couple of years and it seems far too soon for the Rose family to depart from our screens. If you look back on the history of the show, though, nothing about its impact on pop culture is quite normal. Schitt’s Creek has always been something of a little engine that could. The show is a mid-budget contemporary Canadian sitcom that did not find a mainstream audience until after three seasons. Oh, and you probably did not know that Pop was even a channel before you started watching. The series became the poster child for the effect of word of mouth after its debut on Netflix, and each season the audience continues to grow. If you said, “ew, David,” five years ago, most people wouldn’t catch the reference. Now, you’re likely to get someone who throws up “Alexis hands” in response. Schitt’s Creek merchandise is suddenly everywhere. I’m even wearing a Rose Apothecary sweatshirt as I write this. Last year, the series finally got included in American awards season—Moira’s favorite season, mind you—and it’s likely it will take home some Emmys for its farewell episodes. Each episode is a joyful reprieve from the stresses of the real world, and even the scenes featuring more emotional weight to them still find a way to wring out some belly laughs. If there is one thing the series mastered during its run, it’s the ability to blend humor with family-focused heart.
The only element of the show’s final season that really prevents it from being the “perfect” end to the series is the mildly frustrating lack of momentum for some of the show’s characters. Each season, the audience sees the cast of characters grow, change, and experience shifts in perspective. Who could forget Moira singing at Alexis’s graduation to show her how much she means to her? Who could forget Johnny standing up for Roland and Jocelyn at the anniversary dinner? One of the most exciting of these moments came at the end of season five with Stevie’s performance of “Maybe This Time.” Season six began with the promise of more Stevie-centric episodes as she explores what it means for her to take chances. Instead, Stevie interviews to be a flight attendant? She fumbles through her maid of honor duties? The choices made for her character are frustrating, not because they are not funny, they certainly are, but because Stevie essentially ends up right where we met her. She just has a friend now, but her relationship with David has been long established. She runs the motel, but she basically did that before she became the owner? Stevie’s arc in season six is so tied up in either assisting David or Johnny, that it seems like a missed opportunity to watch her not finally get the opportunity to become more than a sidekick to the Roses.
Then, there are the Roses themselves. Certainly, the most well-handled character conclusion in the season is Alexis’s. The maturity of her storyline, especially in regard to her relationship with Ted, is a testament to the strength of the series’ writers and the talents of Annie Murphy and Dustin Milligan. Murphy, in particular, deserves a long and dynamic career based on her breakout performance as Alexis. David and Patrick’s storyline felt rather complete at the end of season five, so there really is not much for them to do this season, other than get married (more on that later). Moira really seemed like the last domino to fall in the Roses understanding that their lives are not what they were before they got to town, but she ends up becoming a celebrity again. Because some of the characters do not get the opportunity to move forward, their storylines feel like steps back from the development introduced in the show’s earlier years.
It’s impossible to write about Schitt’s Creek without discussing the show’s unique and significant queer representation. Though the final season does not particularly do anything different than the previous seasons have, the series finale’s wedding does represent the culmination of six seasons of queer utopia. Throughout its run, Schitt’s Creek portrayed a world desired by members of the LGBTQ community for so long, one without homophobia. David and Patrick definitely make reference to the homophobic world that exists outside of Schitt’s Creek, David through his retorts and Patrick through his excellent coming out storyline, respectively. Within the town, though, no one questions their relationship and the series features no moody, tragic “very special episodes” where they have to come face to face with hate. The show will forever be remembered, especially by queer audiences, for its depiction of a world so many of us hope to one day live in.
- “It reminds me of the Nickelodeon pilot where Ashley Tisdale and I played suffragettes” might be the best line of the entire series.
- If you want to really cry about the show ending, consider watching the follow-up special, “Best Wishes, Warmest Regards.”
The Final Tea
Obviously, as with any last season of a series, it can be quite hard to separate what happens from what we, as fans, wanted or expected to happen. Do I think Moira would have completed a full hero’s journey had she decided to stop trying to become famous again? Yes. Does that impact what I perceive as the quality of the final season? Absolutely, but not just because I didn’t get what I wanted, but because I feel like she doesn’t experience a full character arc. In fact, I think the series may have been better served if Moira had to fully reckon with the idea that her career had been shelved, as is introduced in the finale of season five. In fact, it seems as though many of the show’s best ideas came through the fifth season. As funny and joyful as season six still was, perhaps, on some level, the creators knew that they would not be able to top season five, and only produced a sixth season as a final love note to the fans.