This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
There are lines of dialogue, little brief monologues, that Catherine O’Hara performs in the new season of Schitt’s Creek that had me laughing so much before they were finished that I had to rewind them to hear the end.
It’s nothing novel to point out how funny O’Hara is on the show, which launches its final season Jan. 7 on Pop TV.
There’s the way her unplaceable mid-Atlantic accent meanders through her verbose speech, as if her brain is translating her thoughts through a thesaurus in real time as she speaks, undulating more vowel sounds than there are in a word and emphasizing syllables in a way that would be deranged if they weren’t such perfection.
There’s the batty lack of self-awareness her Moira Rose has after decades of privilege and entitlement. Then starbursts of empathy and understanding blast through and practically bowl you over, they’re so endearing.
There’s the wigs.
She’s a practically perfect TV character, and Schitt’s Creek co-creators and stars Dan and Eugene Levy have scripted a touching beginning to her send-off, as well as the rest of the Rose family.
The final season of the show arrives at the height of its popularity and acclaim. It scored its first Best Comedy Series Emmy nomination this year, earned the most nominations of any comedy series at the Critics Choice Awards, and will compete for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series at the SAG Awards for the first time later this month.
Saying goodbye just when things have gotten this good seems downright cruel, which is cannily something the first episodes of the new season deal with as well.
The Rose family, after spending so long fighting it, have found a home in Schitt’s Creek, the happiest they’ve had in their lives. But comfort can be a trap, no matter how satisfying it seems. All of the characters grapple with this: Is there more value in expanding horizons and taking risks, or in the comfort of home?
Annie Murphy’s Alexis goes to bat for love and agrees to follow Ted (Dustin Milligan) to the Galapagos, “a place that literally doesn’t have a Sephora for 2,700 miles.” Eugene Levy’s Johnny wants to start a local motel franchise, while his partner, Emily Hampshire’s Stevie, questions if she’s capable of more than this business. Dan Levy’s David and Noah Reid’s Patrick continue to encounter the joys and curiosities of intimacy as they plan their wedding.
Moira, meanwhile, is invigorated by a promising development with her once-defunct film, The Crows Have Eyes 3: The Crowening, which is headed to the streaming service Interflix. (Get it?) A takeover of Interflix’s social media channels is a particular thrill, providing a “digital soapbox” that reminds her of the Nickelodeon pilot where she and Ashley Tisdale played suffragettes called You Go, Girl.
The striking thing about Schitt’s Creek is in how writing this quick and smart and performances as finely calibrated as these exist on a show without cynicism, crudeness, glibness, or the kind of tortured darkness that has come to define what we consider “great” comedy. It’s masterful comedy that exists in a happy world.
That’s both a profound level—there’s no bigotry or any “thing” at all, really, in relation to David and Patrick’s relationship—and a more micro one. The characters are never cruel, and the comedy never mean. More, this world isn’t as much utopian as it is tantalizingly close to one we could have, if we could get over ourselves enough to have it.