I fell ill on Easter.
It came on hard and fast and seemingly out of nowhere, and Monday’s arrival brought no reprieve.
So, unlike most weekdays when I would be corralling the day’s top stories, I was banished instead to my bed, swaddled in chenille socks and nausea.
With little energy and even less motivation, I earmarked my roundup for a later date and dove headfirst into the remaining episodes of “Schitt’s Creek.” And by dove, I mean swanned at a leisurely pace, because sudden movements make me vomit.
I finished the series finale at first light this morning. Flanked by a couch cushion and my daughter — who was also taken ill, or just wanted to stay home from school — I tore through the series’ swan song, capping off a month-long binge with nothing to show for it but tears and longing.
Because this show, if you have yet to watch, is special.
It is special not only for its comedic brilliance — nary a minute passes without a piece of well-timed humor — but also for the lessons that it imparts upon the viewer, with the viewer none the wiser.
Schitt’s Creek, you come to learn, is an enclave of happy.
It is a town unmarred by isms and phobias, where people come as they are and are accepted wholesale.
It is a town rendered by architects who do not tokenize their characters but portray them in full dimension.
It is a town where I would like to live.
Not solely because of the rollicking fun that is the jocular antics of displaced elites who fail — in spectacular fashion — to camouflage into the realm of the proletariat.
But because the town represents a world where people grow in love — not just with others but with themselves.
It is a show and a world where homophobia does not exist. Where a character is not introduced into the storyline because he fills a quota or attracts a target audience but because he is valuable to the narrative.
I have viewed many a show where the token racial or sexual minority blends into the background, serving no apparent purpose other than to pat the backs of writers who wish to bask in their own enlightenment. And then there exist the shows where the gay character takes center stage, but in such a heavy-handed, ham-fisted fashion that it stands to otherize more than it stands to further inclusion.
Not on “Schitt’s Creek.”
The LGBTQ members of the ensemble are not perfunctory or one-note; they are as full-bodied as a Herb Ertlinger Moira Rosé. Their sexuality is not the sun that their character development revolves around, via the mechanisms of conflict, tragedy, or otherwise; it is but one grape — or radish — that helps flavor the blend.
It also bears mentioning how much representation the show lends to the bisexual community. Too often, cinema neglects this subset of the LGBTQ population, content to pepper a strictly gay or strictly lesbian character into a bouillon of heterosexual personalities. It is as though they believe that, in the world of representation, they must “go big or go home,” as if sexual orientation were a performance at the Abestos Fest.
And these bisexual characters are not depicted solely as individuals whose experimentation served as a mere phase prior to the resolution of some inner-conflict or confusion — though we do see that with Patrick — they are individuals who were bisexual, are bisexual, and will continue to be bisexual into the future. They are individuals who, quite simply, like white wines in addition to red. And representation of that kind is of particular importance when you consider how often this orientation is maligned or misunderstood, afflicted by myths, stigma, and erasure.
And the show’s penchant for wisdom does not end there.
How many times have you viewed a movie or television show where the female character abandons her career aspirations in the name of love? For me, this is such a regular occurrence that I half-expected Alexis to abandon public relations in the finale in favor of a life marked by mosquito net infernos and turtle sex.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, did my heart break a little when Alexis and Ted mutually decided to part ways? Yes.
Do I have the emotional strength to weather it? Thus far, no.
But I would be remiss if I did not note how refreshing it is to see a woman as dedicated to her career path and to her newfound independence as she is to the promise of romance.
The affection that we develop for the people and town of Schitt’s Creek.
Much has been made of the ascendance of Donald Trump, but perhaps most central to the thesis is this idea that rural folks have grown weary of the condescension of coastal elites. It is why some cling so tightly to the electoral college, convinced that the interests of those in flyover country will forever be secondary to those of city dwellers — tethered to the lower rungs of the ladder by those who look down from the top.
And, in some manner, this is true. From the accents we affect and the vernacular we use to the stereotypical ideas that we carry, we often fail to treat those in rural, everyday communities with the same reverence and care that we do those of more substantial means.
This show turns that tendency on its head.
In the season two finale, we actively root for Johnny Rose to square off against the wealthy friends of his past in defense of the commoners that people his present.
We deploy our telepathic powers in the waning episodes of season six to urge David Rose to forgo the city in favor of the quaint cottage where Jude Law seduced Cameron Diaz.
I even caught myself hoping that they would all stay, unrealistic though it may be.
Because I, too, fell in love.
I fell in love with the loud joy and quiet confidence of Twyla Sands.
With a town that, in the absence of life’s more ornate pleasures, fostered community and a sense of appreciation for the arts and for the company of good men.
I fell in love with a place so unburdened by pomp and circumstance that a person’s true worth and value shine through.
Where relationships, undistracted by the bright lights of big cities, can mature and flourish.
Where people learn that money, while necessary for Poison concerts and locally sourced skincare, is not wholly responsible for one’s happiness.
A place where people do not remain out of obligation or duress, but because they actively choose to — motel heiress, lottery winner, or not.
A place where people have picnics unironically.
This is Schitt’s Creek the town, and this is “Schitt’s Creek” the show.
A place where people of all colors and creeds can live life, not necessarily without struggle, but without struggles imposed by others. Without judgment, arrogance, or discrimination. Where, divorced from the industry of their prior lives, people can grow, shedding the worst parts of their past selves.
As I made my way to the bus stop to retrieve my (other) daughter this afternoon, I observed a family of Egyptian geese wading a course through our neighborhood pond — the goslings shadowing their parents.
The goslings, in my view, were considerably larger than they were at last glance, and I wondered aloud how long they would remain with their guardians. If they would leave the proverbial nest and spread their wings, or wither under the force of their parents’ helicopter.
And then I thought of the Roses. A family whose literal and figurative proximity begot the best versions of themselves. And I smiled — regarding the geese as though they were a mirror image of this fictional family, only without accents of undetermined origin or coats as fuzzy as David Rose.
And I suppose that is the lasting legacy of this show: how it encourages us to examine the world through a more positive, more optimistic lens. To reject the urge to decide how things should be, and instead find the beauty in what they are.
So, tomorrow, I will return to the 24-hour news cycle, complete with homophobia, materialism, and crippling negativity.
But for today, as I wallow in my plague-like state, I will linger just a beat longer in this world of acute understanding, where goodwill is abundant and our only limitations are self-imposed. Because that is precisely the kind of world that I would like to live in. And I am going to manifest that sh*t.
I only regret that the end of this era has come. But as Dan Levy said of the decision to close on a high note, “From start to finish our show will be exactly what it was intended to be. The biggest mistake you can make in TV is shifting the focus away from characters and the storytelling to servicing audience expectations. The audience is there because you’ve done something right.”
Something right indeed.