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Why Annie Murphy Will Be Schitt's Creek's Greatest Legacy

The actress has built a sterling comedic reputation as small-town Canada's answer to Paris Hilton.
  • Annie Murphy in Schitt's Creek. (Pop/CBC)
    Annie Murphy in Schitt's Creek. (Pop/CBC)

    As we count down to the series series finale of Schitt's Creek on April 7th, everybody who's appreciated what the unassuming little Canadian comedy has done to brighten our lives over the last few years is busy memorializing the show's greatest moments, characters, episodes, et cetera. From father and son Eugene and Daniel Levy, Schitt's Creek tells the story of a once fabulously wealthy family who lost everything, and the small town (in Canada, though nobody ever mentions it) that turned out to be the only thing they still owned. The fish-out-of-water nature of the Rose family has been a consistent source of absurdity, and the god-level comedic talents of Eugene Levy and especially Catherine O'Hara as Johnny and Moira Rose have been true highlights. The younger Levy has delivered TV's most fantastically persnickety pansexual in David Rose, whose late-seasons romance with Patrick (Noah Reid) has proven to be one of the sweetest gay romances in TV history.

    And then there's Alexis. As the sunny-but-spoiled Rose daughter, Annie Murphy has spent the last six seasons creating a character whose absurdity radiates from within her very core. On paper, she was clearly drawn as a Paris Hilton type: a socialite whose checkered romantic past includes a never-ending string of Greek shipping heirs, island sabbaticals with rock stars, and misspent summers packed with bad behavior and neglect. But Alexis isn't some hard-ridden, jaded (former) rich girl. The genius of Murphy's portrayal lies in the shimmering core of enthusiasm that Alexis taps into. Yes, the early years of Schitt's Creek involved a lot of Alexis flopping down on her motel-room bed and lamenting her un-fabulous life. But rather quickly, she began to bring something uniquely "Alexis" to every aspect of small town life, from barn dances to book clubs.

    Before being cast in Schitt's Creek, Annie Murphy's TV career was basically nonexistent, save for a string of one-off appearances on shows like Blue Mountain State, Beauty and the Beast, and Rookie Blue, along with a part in the ill-fated CW series The Beautiful Life. Certainly nothing that gave us an indication of the comedic tour de force she would ultimately display every week as Alexis. Just the construction of Alexis's voice, which is the most particular brand of inflection since the "Valley Girl" accent was popularized in the 80s, is a thing of comedic genius. The way she can put a spin on "David!" — exasperated, curious, delighted, furious — is worthy of study.

    While elevating the comedic level of whatever scene she's in would be a triumph in and of itself, the longer the family has stayed in Schitt's Creek, the harder Murphy has worked to deepen and humanize Alexis. In particular, her romance with the smoking hot veterinarian Ted (Dustin Milligan) began as something silly and evolved over the years leading up to the final season, until the fate of their long distance relationship (he got a job in the Galapagos while she was navigating a burgeoning career as a publicist back home) elicited one of the series' most emotional reactions.

    And then there's the phenomenon of "A Little Bit Alexis," a tiny miracle of a moment where — continuing the Paris Hilton celebutante nature of Alexis' backstory — it's revealed that she once had a burgeoning reality TV career, complete with a dance-pop single that frankly blows "Stars Are Blind" completely out of the water. When she breaks out "A Little Bit Alexis" at her audition for the local production of Cabaret, complete with choreography, the results are can't-look-away train-wreck hilarity.

    "A Little Bit Alexis" was the perfect bit of viral content that peaked just as Schitt's Creek had reached maximum crossover velocity. Finally, the world was getting to see what Annie Murphy could deliver comedically. Which is why it will be completely insane if she doesn't go on to become a huge crossover comedy star. She needs to be cast in romantic comedies immediately. Every role that Judy Greer used to get,: offer them to Annie. Every role that Kristen Wiig used to get: Annie. It would be a terrible crime if she's not a massive star after Schitt's Creek ends She's a comedy genius, and we're ready for her.

    Schitt's Creek airs Tuesday nights at 9:00 PM ET on Pop.

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    Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Schitt's Creek, Pop TV, Annie Murphy, Catherine O'Hara, Dan Levy, Eugene Levy