TV

Schitt's Creek star Daniel Levy on what makes the show so special

'I’m amazed that I’m talking to Australia!'

By Cynthia Wang

Comedy legends Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy, who starred in films Best In Show and A Mighty Wind, return to series TV in Schitt's Creek.

Created by Eugene and his son Daniel Levy, the sitcom follows the fabulously wealthy Roses – video store magnate Johnny (Eugene), former actress Moira (Catherine), and vain kids David (Daniel) and Alexis (Annie Murphy).

When their business manager fails to pay their taxes, the government seizes their property, forcing the family to move to the one asset left to them: a small town with an unfortunate name. The series, which is currently available on Netflix, is coming to free-to-air TV on ABC Comedy.

Although set in Canada, Schitt's Creek "is a universal story," Daniel, 35, tells TV WEEK.

"It's the slow unravelling of these people who had surrounded themselves with money and used it to bandage all their problems. Once the money is taken away, all they have is each other."

The Roses: Alexis, Johnny, Moira and David.
The Roses: Alexis, Johnny, Moira and David.

Showrunner Daniel, now filming Schitt's Creek's fifth season, says the premise came from the popularity of the Real Housewives franchises and Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

"We were made privy to the inner workings of these wealthy families – enough for us to build a show around it, because the public now knows how these people live," he says. "It seemed a timely and funny concept to play on what would happen if the money was taken away."

Daniel then collaborated with his dad to make a television family that an audience would want to mock, but also one they could cheer for.

Wondering how a family like that would have made their money and what might have caused them to lose it, they started to research the phenomenon.

They found an article about how actress Kim Basinger had bought a town in Georgia in the US with the idea of turning it into a filming location, but it didn't work out.

"Something about that story really struck us," Daniel says.

Mixing the concepts of celebrity-town ownership with fading Hollywood fortunes, the pair wondered "what would have happened if their family had bought a town at the height of their wealth?" Daniel explains.

What the Levys built was a faraway but very contemporary setting filled with quirky characters, yet none were quirkier than the Roses.

"We never wanted the townspeople to be the sort of dumb yokels often portrayed when small towns are depicted in comedies," Daniel says.

"We wanted the family to be the joke. So we made a concerted effort to make the town just a lovely sort of utopic town, very accepting politically, a perfect place for the family to learn to love, because there are so many examples around them."

Eugene Levy and Chris Elliott in *Schitt's Creek.*
Eugene Levy and Chris Elliott in Schitt's Creek.

With the concept intact, Daniel's next move was to get the right cast. At the top of his wish list to play Johnny's over-the-top wife was Catherine O'Hara. Although he grew up with Catherine as a friend of the Levy family, Daniel says hiring her was daunting for a first-time producer.

"I'd never written television before, never been acting in that capacity before, and my dad and I had never worked together before," he says. "We were very lucky she agreed to do it."

Then, Daniel's sister Sarah Levy would join in as local waitress Twyla, fresh face Annie Murphy would be worldly wild, if not wise, sister Alexis Rose, and comedy veteran Chris Elliott would be the mayor of Schitt's Creek.

"It's such a mixed bag of fun voices," Daniel says of the ensemble.

The result was a global hit show.

"I'm amazed that I'm talking to Australia," Daniel reveals. "This is a very small show, we make it in Canada, and we didn't know what we were getting into when we started. And now we're here, and it's just a joy."

Schitt's Creek season one is coming to ABC Comedy on Monday 10th of September. The show will air Monday, 9:10pm, Tuesday to Thursday, 9pm, and Friday, 9:15pm.

read more from