Few shows have featured an ensemble cast the likes of Schitt's Creek. That each have been given the opportunity to shine suggests that the show's onscreen generosity of spirit extends behind the scenes as well. Herewith are our picks for showcase episodes for each of the series' regulars:
Choosing a single episode that captures all that we love about Moira Rose is nearly impossible, but the Herb Ertlinger fruit wine commercial of Season 1 was instantly iconic. While she presents herself as unshakably confident in most every way, her insecurities come to the fore whenever she attempts to return to the limelight after years away. It's a recurring theme across all six seasons — from Asbestos Fest to the Crows movie — which taps into Moira's fear of being washed up. Catherine O’Hara’s accent choices, obscure vocabulary, wigs, and costumes are essential parts of who Moira is, but this fear is just as core. At this early stage in the series, it was vital to show cracks in her facade, and this disastrous commercial shoot is equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious.
Season 1 ended in disaster for the Rose family when the sale of the town fell through. Still trying to find a way out, Johnny searched for an alternative solution. But this place and its people have a pull, which was best demonstrated in the second season finale. An anniversary dinner for one of TV’s best married couples turned into a merging of old and new worlds for Johnny and Moira when they ran into friends who never even called them after they lost everything, and if that wasn't enough, add Roland and Jocelyn Schitt to the mix. Uncomfortable conversation and mockery of the food led to Johnny calling out how badly their old friends treated them, but the triumphant moment arrived when he stopped hiding behind lies. "That town you passed through, it’s not called Schittsville. It’s called Schitt’s Creek. And it’s where we live." Heading to Mutt’s party afterward led to another pivotal benchmark: a declaration of love between the Rose parents and their children. It's impossible not to smile at the image of Eugene Levy’s finger-pointing, raise-the-roof moves as his family and friends joyfully dance the night away.
Something as cheesy as making a statement through song would be a nightmare scenario for the David Rose of old, but the slowed-down version of Tina Turner’s "Simply the Best," which Patrick dedicated to his boyfriend at the open mic night further pierced the shield around David’s heart. This song provided the inspiration for this romantic gesture in return: a lip sync that was sweet, sexy, and emotionally free in a way David hadn’t previously exhibited. His dating experiences left him damaged but not beyond repair as this deeply vulnerable statement made clear. Performing this number in a leather Givenchy sweater only added to the unique visual, delivering a defining moment in the joyous universe of Dan Levy's making, showcases the many risks he's been willing to take as an actor.
The Schitt's Creek character who has experienced the biggest personal and professional growth is Alexis Rose. In the first episode, she was prepared to ditch her family to fly away with her rich boyfriend, and now she's ending the series by taking a leap on her own. A huge turning point in launching her professional career was the Singles Week tourism initiative. Co-chairing the event with her mother, Alexis did most of the work and proved how well-suited she is to the world of PR. Curating a week for singles was her brainchild, but matters were complicated after she told Ted (Dustin Milligan) that she still loved him. Staying upbeat when your heart is aching is a challenge, but Alexis rose to the occasion. Annie Murphy’s ability to portray an emotional experience that is alien to this character and deliver a sincere but very specific kick-off speech is part of her comedic brilliance. A romantic win was served when Ted made his own grand declaration in return, which further cemented Cafe Tropical as the venue for life-changing moments.
Jocelyn Schitt has always had an effervescent approach to life, but the birth of her second son hampered her ability to do the things she loved (Jazzagals rehearsals) at a point in her life when she thought babies were behind her. This gave Jennifer Robertson the chance to portray a woman who has lost her sense of self. Her confidence was further shattered when the Poison concert that was set to be the centerpiece of a Jazzagals night out was canceled. Not letting her first night off go to waste, she herded the gals onto the bus to the casino, with pot brownies and bubbly on hand to get them started. A crisis of confidence led Joceyln to confide in Moira: "It’s like on the inside I feel like I’m 19 years old, and then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I realize I’m so not." Who better to get advice from than a woman whose every outfit is confident mood? Sure, Jocelyn's spontaneous haircut needed some work, but she'll never regret this good time.
The spark between David and Patrick was apparent from their very first handshake in Season 3. Their kiss in Patrick’s car was also the first time he had kissed a guy. Two seasons and a good deal of drama later, a surprise birthday party turned into one of the defining moments of Schitt’s Creek after David invited Patrick’s parents to the shindig. Unknown to him, his boyfriend hadn’t come out to his family, so what started out as a fun surprise had the potential to implode. Written by Dan Levy, the episode took a familiar premise and injected it with the love and kindness this show is famous for. Instead of spiraling, David took charge, giving Patrick the space to grapple with this hurdle and the support to speak to his parents in a safe environment, which in turn led to a knockout performance by Reid as he told his parents who he is. By the end of the season, Patrick got down on one knee and proposed, which might not have been possible if David hadn’t facilitated this pivotal moment.
"Maybe this time I’ll win!" belted out Stevie in a cathartic performance as Sally Bowles in the Schitt’s Creek community theater production of Cabaret. When we first met Stevie, she was a sardonic motel employee, and while she still possesses that snarky wit, she's also found her place in the town where she grew up. In Season 5, heartbreak led to Moira offering her the lead role in the musical production without even knowing if Stevie could sing or dance. Instinct led to this choice, as did Johnny’s proposal to go into business with her — really, the Rose clan gained another family member the day they moved into the motel. Performing in Cabaret was a culmination of this trust and the belief that she was destined for something bigger. Stevie shed the protection of her plaid-shirt before she went on stage and sang her big number with gusto. Everything that has followed in Season 6 stemmed from this moment. There is no doubt that this time, Stevie really did win.
A somewhat divisive character, Roland Schitt’s antagonistic disposition made it hard to warm to the town’s mayor in the show's earlier seasons. As his friendship with Johnny grew, and he took a job at the motel after Joceyln became pregnant in Season 4, his lack of a filter was less roadblock. The final season has been a triumph for Roland, which has given Chris Elliott the opportunity to deliver some classic Roland obliviousness while showcasing how much he has benefited from working with Johnny. During the recent trip to New York, Roland also showed how lucky Johnny is to have him in his life after he stood up to some jerks who mocked their pitch. "The man’s a legend," and so is Roland Schitt.
Schitt's Creek airs its season finale tonight at 8:00PM ET on Pop TV.
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Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina.