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Op-ed

Streaming ‘Schitt’s Creek’ is the right relief from reality right now | GUEST COMMENTARY

As Marylanders experience Corona déjà vu all over again, it’s likely that many of us will look to our streaming services to provide some relief from reality. There will be many options, but none will offer the happy parallel universe of the sleeper hit “Schitt’s Creek.”

The first time I tried to watch “Schitt’s Creek,” I was drawn in by the publicity leading to its 2015 premier on Pop TV — excitement generated by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara’s on-screen reunion.

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But when I clicked open my DVR, I was unimpressed.

A couple of years later, after a friend suggested I watch the show, I shrugged, “I tried. Meh.”

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“Watch more than one episode,” she said.

Soon after, with not many prospects in my queue, I clicked on Episode 2.

And again. Nothing.

But by May of 2020, my two adult children had moved back into our home, the pandemic having taken everything that meant anything to them — their social life, their job prospects, their future. Like the rest of the world, our collective sojourn into the depths of despair was excruciating. Cut off from most of the world, stuck in our limited environment, we had to learn to navigate each other’s fragile emotions.

By July, my daughter moved to her college town for the summer to try to do what college kids could still do. My husband and college graduate son left for an eight-day camping trip. I was stuck in our empty house with the pandemic still raging on. And, so I decided to give “Schitt’s Creek” one more try.

This time, I could not stop watching.

The plot: A sudden loss of fortune forces the uberwealthy Rose family to live in a musty motel in the middle of nowhere, USA. Years ago, the town’s name was so hilarious to him, Johnny (the patriarch) bought Schitt’s Creek for his son, David. He and the other Rose child, Alexis, should be grown and flown, but they are not. With no prospects to restore their wealth, the Roses are confined to live in this isolated town with its cheerful but provincially limited inhabitants. This pickle will end one day, but by the time the four of them dance together at a white light barn soiree at the end of Season 2, they realize as a family, they are the better for it.

That year, the series would go on to break records at the Emmy awards. Maybe the Academy realized what many of us did. That in 2020, the characters, nor the plot seemed farcical as the world was trying desperately to paddle up Corona Creek without our paddles.

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Much of the appeal is that the show homes in on the dynamics of a small family with adult children forced to live together again. Whether your daughter is “a little bit Alexis” or your son “likes the wine and not the label,” the Roses offer the complexities that are embedded in families of every size. In “Schitt’s Creek,” Moira and Johnny must parent again. Just like so many of us surprised by the pandemic found ourselves doing in ways that we thought were over.

“Schitt’s Creek” also offers viewers something that the other binge-watched TV shows during the pandemic do not: instead of more dystopia, a silver lining to the craziness, a parallel universe in which despair and isolation lead to good things, better things.

Perhaps my favorite show is the “Life is A Cabaret” episode, in which Rose Motel clerk Stevie, about to perform her solo as Sally Bowles in the famed Fosse classic Cabaret, laments to Moira that she wished she wasn’t “watching it all happen from behind a desk.”

Moira counters with her account of coming out of her own “dark, troublesome existence” of life in Schitt’s Creek.

Take yourself by the hand, she counsels Stevie. And “show those people what you can be.” It’s words of inspiration, just what Stevie needs to hear before she breaks from her shell for just a moment to deliver a spectacular rendition of Maybe This Time.

We are still in perilous times, but unlike the bravado we felt entering 2021, we know better than to know what to expect in 2022.

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So, to paraphrase Moira’s words of inspiration to Stevie, maybe this time we (that’s you and that’s me) just need to take our own selves by the hand and realize that we are all doing the best we can.

And maybe this time, with a little help from the Roses, we’ll win.

Jacqueline Scott (jvshome2004@yahoo.com) is an English professor at the Community College of Baltimore County.


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