The 'Schitt's Creek' Finale Gave David A Happy Ending

Apr 7, 2020
Originally published on April 8, 2020 12:58 pm

Note: This review discusses events depicted in the final season, and final episode, of Schitt's Creek.

From the opening moments of the first scene of last night's Schitt's Creek finale episode, it was clear: Nothing would change, and everything would.

"The day did have a slight singultus," said Moira, upon waking David on the morning of his wedding day. And there it was, clear as a mission statement. Moira was still Moira: that same affected diction, the same penchant for circumlocution, the same tendency to minimize others' distress. Because by "singultus" she meant "hiccup," and by "hiccup" she meant "downpour."

(Those of us who prefer Moira's bonzo pronunciations to her obscure vocabulary had but to wait a few minutes to get handed one last gem: "Unless it was the year I booked that international campaign for Looky-Loo BinocuLAHRS.")

But later she greeted daughter Alexis warmly, even going so far as to compliment her appearance — this from the woman who once remonstrated Alexis for her choice of diner entree ("A heavy salad might as well be a casserole"). And later, of course, as she officiated David's wedding, this most arch, least emotive, most coolly distant of the Rose family completely friggin' lost it. (The fact that she did so while clad in an ensemble that represented the peak of ecumenical couture was just so much frosting on the communion wafer.)

Moira's the same Moira she was in Season 1, Episode 1: Vain, self-important, condescending. But over the course of six seasons, the town of Schitt's Creek — and the new familial intimacy thrust upon her by her living situation — went to work on her. She became a better version of herself, her carefully crafted facade cracking just enough for her to reach out to others, and for others to reach back.

The show grew more empathetic along with her as, happily, Moira's status as a washed-up actress, her defining characteristic in early episodes, receded into the background. Her arc over the course of filming and releasing the unabashedly cheesy The Crows Have Eyes movie over seasons 5 and 6 revealed something important and satisfyingly surprising: Moira is good at show business. She's canny, self-aware and determined.

This is one key to Schitt's Creek's abiding appeal — the opportunity to watch characters we've come to know staying true to who they are even as we can see them evolving. The Roses didn't fundamentally change, but they grew -- they added layers of humanity, sincerity and vulnerability, even as the series allowed them to hold on to a sense of self-awareness that kept things from getting too sticky-sweet.

Consider: The ruination of his carefully made wedding plans sent David into a spiral (nothing changes), which was met by his fiancee Patrick's steadfast understanding (nothing changes), and then David, to some extent ... actually stepped up and rolled with the punches (everything changes!). Granted, the masseur Patrick gifted him with before the ceremony lent a hand, but Season 6 David has become a more grounded person whom Season 1 David likely wouldn't recognize — and would definitely resent.

Season 1 David would also be mystified by Season 6 David's decision to stick around Schitt's Creek — much less to end up married to a sweet-natured, practical pair of Dockers in human form like Patrick, much much less to start a life together in a kitschy Thomas Kinkade Goes To The Suburbs cottage number, but then — nothing changes, and everything does.

The same Alexis who spent the first episode waiting to be rescued by her boyfriend-of-nearly-four-months Stavros, and who collapsed into helpless wailing when he dumped her, has decided to venture out on her own, rejecting Twyla's generous, no-strings offer of financial support, because she's tasted what building a life on your own skills, not the attentions of others, feels like.

And as for long-suffering Johnny Rose, who spent his years in Schitt's Creek up to his half-Windsor in a state of perpetual exasperation that sent those eyebrows undulating like a pair of woolly caterpillars on molly: He got the two things we've watched him struggling for: 1. His family secure again, and 2. Vindication.

The final episode was long on grace notes for various characters, as was last week's episode, which gave David and Stevie a final driveway moment. (One could complain that the show's shift in focus to David/Patrick left the great Emily Hampshire underserved for the past few seasons, but as a famous fruit-wine spokesperson/chanteuse once said, now is not the time for pettifogging.)

Now is the time to be grateful for a show that never aspired to be a joke-dense fusillade of gags like 30 Rock or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; that let itself be driven as much by the relationships among its characters as by the conflicts between them; that found the humor in characters silently reacting to one another:

Farewell, the pained grin/grimace of Jocelyn Schitt!

Au revoir, the simpering head-tilt of Moira Rose!

And adieu, the "I can't believe this is happening but I love it oh my god" stifled smile of David/Alexis/Stevie! I think I'll miss you most of all.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

This sitcom "Schitt's Creek" ended last night after six seasons. Now, most good TV shows have fans, but "Schitt's Creek" fans are on another level. Here's Glen Weldon of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Look, no spoilers. "Schitt's Creek" airs on Pop TV here in the States, but it didn't become the phenomenon it has until people found its early seasons on Netflix. The sixth and final season that concluded last night hasn't hit Netflix yet, so we'll be careful here because this show's fans are hard core. They dress up as their favorite characters. They make YouTube supercuts of their catchphrases.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

ANNIE MURPHY: (As Alexis Rose) Ew, David.

Ew.

Ew, ew.

Oh, ew.

Ew, David.

WELDON: Last year, they filled 4,000-seat theaters just to watch its stars sit and talk about it in a live show that toured the states.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAN LEVY: She plays my best friend Stevie Budd on "Schitt's Creek..."

WELDON: It might seem odd that people would get so rabidly excited about a show that's so small, so gentle, so Canadian. But it's that gentleness, the way it allows its characters to grow into slightly better versions of themselves that people fell in love with. Certainly, the show's setup wasn't unique, your basic fish-out-of-water story. A rich family loses everything and is forced to move to their only remaining asset.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

STEWART ARNOTT: (As lawyer) You bought a small town in 1991, Johnny.

EUGENE LEVY: (As Johnny Rose) Yes, I bought that as a joke for my son.

D LEVY: (As David Rose) Wait, you actually purchased that town?

WELDON: They wound up living in a rundown motel. David, the brittle, condescending son played by co-creator Dan Levy, began his new life in Schitt's Creek by snapping at Stevie, the motel clerk.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

D LEVY: (As David Rose) I have asked you thrice now for a towel so that I may wash this town off my body.

WELDON: But then, gradually, something happened. David met and fell in love with a local, Patrick, a sweet, closeted businessman. Their relationship was depicted matter of factly because "Schitt's Creek" was set in a world without homophobia. In a behind-the-scenes special airing after last night's finale, Levy said he set out to depict a queer relationship unmarked by tragedy or struggle.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

D LEVY: When someone who has opposing beliefs sits down in front of their TV and watches, we're not teaching them a lesson. We're showing them what life could be like.

WELDON: The David-Patrick relationship is one reason the show has been so embraced by the queer community, but it's not the only one. Ladies and gentlemen, Catherine O'Hara.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

CATHERINE O'HARA: (As Moira Rose) In the lea of a picturesque ridge lies a small, unpretentious winery, one that pampers its fruit like its own babies. Hi. I'm Moira Rose.

WELDON: Yes, family matriarch Moira Rose - faded celebrity, fruit wine spokesperson, wearer of wigs as hats, gay icon with a universal appeal. I know we said no spoilers, but the show's creators have made no secret about the fact that "Schitt's Creek" concludes with a wedding and some tearful departures. For six seasons, it was a series that managed to show its main characters staying true to who they were even as they developed new layers of empathy and maintained a sense of self-awareness that kept things from getting too syrupy, like the time David and Stevie - that motel clerk he yelled at in Episode 1 but then grew close to as the series progressed - confessed that neither of them had had a best friend before.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SCHITT'S CREEK")

D LEVY: (As David Rose) This would be a really sweet moment if what we had just admitted to each other wasn't so sad.

WELDON: Actually, it's both sweet and sad, like the legacy that "Schitt's Creek" leaves behind. Glen Weldon, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.