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The untold truth of Schitt's Creek

Ever since Schitt's Creek hit the Canadian and American airwaves in 2015, this sunny, incredibly dry, and inexplicably heartfelt show has charmed viewers throughout North America and beyond. Created by Dan Levy, the show follows the entitled Rose family (played by Levy, Annie Murphy, Catherine O'Hara, and Eugene Levy), whose video rental store fortune crumbles beneath them, leaving them penniless and helpless. Stranded, the family must move to Schitt's Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke, thus beginning a classic fish out of water story.

However, after some time, the family finds their place in the town, and as they adjust to their new life in Schitt's Creek, they realize that it's exactly where they belong. But hey, that's just the basic plot, and there was a whole lot happening behind the scenes of this hilarious series. Between the show's unexpected Emmy nods to Dan Levy's very specific oversight, here's everything you've ever wanted to know about Schitt's Creek. Spoilers for the first five seasons of Schitt's Creek to follow!

Schitt's Creek is a family affair

For a show about a family thrust into close quarters and forced to bond, it makes sense that creator Dan Levy would want to enlist his own family, especially considering that his father, Eugene Levy, has been a recognizable comedy star for decades. Known for his roles in everything from American Pie to Best in Show, Eugene Levy — with his distinctive eyebrows — has been making his mark on film since he started showing up in movies like National Lampoon's Vacation and Splash in the '80s. And luckily, his son Dan became a performer as well. After gigs on MTV Canada, Dan decided to pitch Schitt's Creek to his father, and when the two created the show together, the rest was history.

However, Dan and Eugene aren't the only members of the Levy family involved with Schitt's Creek. Sarah Levy, Dan's sister and Eugene's daughter, plays the regular role of Twyla Sands, the waitress at the town's only cafe. If the hilarious family dynamics of Schitt's Creek feel all too real, it might just be because the talented Levy family forms the backbone of the entire show.

Moira and Johnny Rose have a history

As Moira and Johnny Rose, the mother and father of the fallen rose family, Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy have to support each other both on and off screen, and luckily, this pair shares a storied history. The two have worked together in multiple Christopher Guest projects, such as Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. In fact, Eugene Levy convinced O'Hara to join Schitt's Creek, much to his son's delight. As Dan told The New York Times, "I was not going to say, 'No, that's not a good idea.' When he offers up Catherine O'Hara, you take it and run with it."

For her part, O'Hara barely hesitated before she signed on to the Levy's family project, drawn in by Dan's vision and the chance to work with Eugene once again. After studiously avoiding television projects for years after after her stint on Canada's sketch comedy series SCTV — where she also appeared alongside Eugene Levy — O'Hara was hooked by the pilot presentation for Schitt's Creek. As she later told Newsweek, "He [Eugene Levy] convinced me to come to a pilot presentation, and I loved it. He tricked me!"

Dan Levy's unlikely inspiration

When Dan Levy, who plays the big-hearted but standoffish David Rose, came up with the idea for a series that would bring his real-life family together and create an entirely new family on screen, his inspiration came from an unlikely source. As he explained to Out, he'd been working on MTV Canada and was ready for his own project. And then one day, he found his creative spark in a very strange place, saying, "I had been watching some reality TV at the time and was concentrating on what would happen if one of these wealthy families would lose everything. Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians without their money?" Using this idea as a springboard, he got his father Eugene on board, knowing immediately that the talented film veteran would possess the perfect comedic sensibility to helm the show along with him, setting both Levys on an incredible path.

The show's name caused some problems

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the show's name, which sounds exactly like a common profanity, ruffled some feathers before it even premiered on the CBC, which scooped up Schitt's Creek after networks like HBO and Showtime passed on the project. (ABC showed some interest, but the Levy men went elsewhere so they could avoid as much network interference as possible.) However, the CBC did have one objection, and yeah, it was the show's name. In fact, the network originally wanted the title changed to sound more suitable.

In order to convince CBC executives, the Levys asked the network if they would run a news report with a name like "Schitt" in the story. When the top brass said yes, the father and son literally went through a phone book to prove that Schitt, no matter how vulgar it sounds, was still a real last name. In the end, the CBC is definitely happy that they took the chance, and the Levys got to name the show exactly what they wanted.

Dan Levy's post-Schitt stardom

Between playing David Rose and working behind the scenes on Schitt's Creek, Dan Levy has become one of the busiest and hardest working young stars in show business since 2015, and from here on out, it looks like he'll only get busier.

In September 2019, the younger Levy signed an incredible deal with ABC to produce and create multiple projects alongside the network, marking an unprecedented achievement in his relatively fresh career. As reported by Variety, Dan Levy expressed plenty of excitement regarding his new opportunity, especially with Schitt's Creek swan song on the horizon, saying, "As I say a bittersweet goodbye to Schitt's Creek, I look forward to the opportunity and privilege to continue to tell inclusive and meaningful stories that shine a positive light out there." Considering how diverse Schitt's Creek truly is in its portrayals of love, acceptance, and coming to terms with one's sexual identity, it's certainly encouraging to have a storyteller like Dan Levy working with an enormous studio like ABC.

How Annie Murphy ended up in Schitt's Creek

For the entire run of Schitt's Creek, Alexis Rose, the spoiled yet sensitive daughter of the Rose family, has been played by Canadian actress Annie Murphy in her breakout role. However, Murphy wasn't always slated to play Alexis. Once another actress dropped out, the Levys discovered her waiting in the wings.

Originally, Saturday Night Live alum Abby Elliott — whose father, Chris Elliott, appears on the show as the town mayor Roland Schitt — was slated to play Alexis, but after she left the project, the role was suddenly available. As luck would have it, Murphy was already on hand after auditioning to play Stevie Budd, the role of the Rosebud Motel's cranky proprietor which would later go to Emily Hampshire. However, there was one hurdle. Murphy was a brunette, and Alexis is a blonde. Fortunately, a dye job convinced Eugene Levy that Murphy would be the right fit for the Paris Hilton-esque role. 

Music brings Schitt's Creek to life

With talented performers like the Levys and O'Hara, it should come as no surprise that Schitt's Creek features plenty of musical performances, but what you might not know is that the cast is much more involved in these interludes than anyone may think.

In fact, some of the show's most memorable musical moments were crafted by the stars of the show themselves, including a moving serenade during an open mic from the series' fourth season. When Patrick (Noah Reid), David's new boyfriend and business partner, organizes an open mic night to help promote their store, David is initially horrified, but he, along with the audience, ends up bowled over by Patrick's performance of Tina Turner's "The Best." Reid, who has an excellent singing voice, created this particular arrangement himself, and in doing so, he created one of the show's most romantic moments.

On the flip side, other members of the cast have utilized their comedic chops to create musical moments that are unforgettable for entirely different reasons. In the show's fifth season, Alexis takes it upon herself to audition for her mother's hometown production of Cabaret with the title song from her short-lived reality series A Little Bit Alexis, and while it goes exactly as well as you would expect, it might surprise you to learn that actress Annie Murphy actually penned the song herself.

Moira's signature voice has many layers

Schitt's Creek is home to so many incredible running gags, but perhaps the best one of all is Moira Rose's (O'Hara) completely unidentifiable accent. As a former soap opera star languishing in a small town, Moira's accent is all over the place, and O'Hara's particular talent for stretching a single word into an endless number of syllables turns each one of her lines into something incredibly special. From the way Moira says "baby" to her extensive, eccentric vocabulary, O'Hara's vocal performance is one of the highlights of the entire show, and as it turns out, she was inspired by several different sources when she created Moira's signature voice.

Speaking to Newsweek, O'Hara revealed some of her influences for Moira's unmistakable voice, saying, "I've met people whose accents have nothing to do with where they were born or raised — they want to reinvent themselves. ... Everything about Moira comes from the potential she believes she has." O'Hara went on to say that her influences include everyone from Madonna to Audrey Hepburn, and as for her signature syllable stretching, the actress simply said, "Some words want to live longer."

Schitt's Creek is full of small details

Schitt's Creek is full of miniscule details, thanks in large part to Dan Levy, who leaves no stone unturned. According to GQ, the younger Levy fusses over everything, from the way the fictional Rosebud Motel might make its beds to its carpets, which he wants to look exactly shabby enough. However, within the world of Schitt's Creek, the most important factor is its fashion.

A show set in a small, podunk town might not seem like a natural home for cutting edge fashion, but thanks to Dan Levy's sharp eye and an excellent costume department, Schitt's Creek contains some of the best clothing on TV. Dan Levy sources many of the costumes himself and is careful to choose items that the Rose family would've purchased before their financial downfall, meaning that newer garments get discarded. He also refuses to spend more than $200 on any single item. Despite budgetary restraints and consistency within the show's fashion timeline, the Rose family remains one of the best dressed clans on television, between Johnny's exquisitely tailored suits, Moira's structural hairpieces and breastplates, Alexis' bohemian sensibility, and David's edgy sweater collection.

The cast raided the prop department after filming the final season

It's not uncommon for eager casts to take home memorabilia from their shows once filming wraps on their final season, and Schitt's Creek, unsurprisingly, is no exception. After the show concluded filming its sixth and final season, the cast took home some of their favorite props from their time in the series, which included receipts given to David by Patrick (for Dan Levy), portraits of the Rose family (for Eugene Levy), a few of Moira's baubles and wigs (for O'Hara), and Alexis' mistyped college degree (for Murphy).

However, some of the most visible items from Schitt's Creek were used for good once the series finished filming. In October 2019, several big-ticket items from the show's wardrobe, including a designer Comme des Garcons jacket worn by O'Hara and a high-end Saint Laurent sweater worn by Dan Levy, went on sale through Canadian retailer VSP Consignment, which then donated proceeds to GLSEN (which stands for Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), an incredible charity that helps keep the educational system equal, compassionate, and fair to students of all sexual identities and orientations.

Schitt's Creek is a thoughtful exploration of modern love

Schitt's Creek features plenty of huge comedic setpieces and ridiculous scenes, but what gives this heartfelt show such a perfect balance is its smaller, sensitive moments, many of which explore modern expressions of love and sexuality. In the show's very first season, after an unexpected night of passion between Stevie (Hampshire) and David, the latter uses a brilliant wine-based analogy to explain his pansexuality (as David puts it, he "likes the wine, not the label"), setting an excellent standard for episodes to come.

Throughout the show, David's sexuality is never treated as a gag or a joke, and that becomes doubly true when his love interest, Patrick, is introduced. Not only is their relationship treated with the utmost respect and care, but when Patrick comes out to his parents, it results in one of the most touching television scenes in recent memory. Thanks to his precise, loving touch when it comes to his show, Dan Levy, who is gay, frequently receives letters from fans and viewers thanking him for making them braver or for helping them accept loved ones struggling with their own identities. And larger organizations have taken notice as well. In 2019, Levy was awarded the Davidson/Valentini Award at GLAAD's annual gala in San Francisco, delivering a speech true to his own identity and the show he so lovingly created.

Schitt's Creek made a big splash for CBC and PopTV

Without a doubt, Schitt's Creek has been one of the most underrated TV shows of the last 15 years. And ultimately, it seems improbable that a show which originally aired on smaller networks like CBC and North America's PopTV would become such a sensation, but thanks to syndication on Netflix, the show slowly gained a cult following, becoming a modern classic once it finally gained a wider audience and opening it up to the possibility of major award nominations.

In the summer of 2019, Schitt's Creek finally broke through to receive multiple Emmy nominations, including nods for O'Hara and Levy alongside a coveted nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series, which understandably thrilled the entire cast. In doing so, it became the first ever PopTV show to earn an Emmy nomination. In fact, the network's president, Brad Schwartz (also Canadian), was so excited that he tweeted out a profane yet joyful message upon hearing the news, saying simply, "Holy s**!!" Of course, any network succeeds when their shows do, but for CBC and PopTV, it must've been especially gratifying when Schitt's Creek made history.

Schitt's Creek has come to life several times

The fictional world of Schitt's Creek might feel totally removed from reality at times, but as the show has surged in popularity, real-life versions of this adorable small town have popped up more and more frequently.

In October of 2019, before the sixth and final season's premieres, Schitt's Creek unveiled two interactive pop-ups in New York City and Los Angeles. Between the Rose family's motel rooms, the jaunty town watering hole Cafe Tropical, and David and Patrick's business Rose Apothecary, guests could wander through a town they'd only previously dreamed of visiting, experiencing life just as the Rose family and denizens of Schitt's Creek do within the show.

As if that wasn't enough, as the show's final season began airing, Netflix teamed up with Beekman 1802 to create a line called "Rose Apothecary x Beekman 1802," crafting scented bath and body products that mimic exactly what would be sold at the fictional Rose Apothecary. (The signature scent? Rose, of course.) Made with goat milk, these Schitt's Creek-inspired goodies have proven a perfect tie-in to the show. David would wholeheartedly approve.