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The Column: 'Schitt's Creek' brings needed humor, humility

Let’s hear it for "Schitt’s Creek."

The sitcom about a zany family — once flush, now penniless — living in a crummy little town they once bought as a joke won an armful of Emmy Awards a couple weeks ago.

If you recall television in the 1950s, when an appearance by the famously curvaceous Dagmar might cause consternation — more on the part of Mom than Dad, as I recall — a show named "Schitt’s Creek" may seem final proof that, yup, told you so, modern culture is about 7 centimeters from extinction.

Don’t count us out just yet.

"Schitt’s Creek" introduces the Rose family — Johnny, a bankrupt businessman; Moira, a kaput soap opera diva with a wig for every occasion; son David, who is gay except when he isn’t; and Alexis, an impossibly entitled daughter who could give white privilege an even worse name.

Humbled by fate, the Roses live in one of those motels you spot late at night and say, "No way. Ask Siri to find a Hampton Inn." Mom and Dad are in one room. David and Alexis share another with twin beds as if they were toddlers and not underachieving adults.

If "Schitt’s Creek" were any nuttier, opening credits would require an allergy warning.

In one episode, Alexis, played by Annie Murphy, and her mother, the divinely cuckoo Catherine O’Hara, think back to a family experience from Moira’s A-list years.

"You took me to the Playboy mansion when I was 7," gasps Alexis.

"And you had a wonderful time in the children’s grotto!" replies Moira.

Has it been so long since "Father Knows Best"?

The Rose family saga is a creation of Eugene Levy, who plays Johnny, and his son, Dan, cast as David. First the show ran in Canada — the Levys are from Toronto — and got the boost it needed when Netflix started streaming.

Six seasons later, we can be glad "Schitt’s Creek" slipped over the border. Who said our northern neighbors were best only at cold fronts, curling and moose chili?

The point isn’t so much that the show is funny — it is, but so are lots of others.

What matters more is that it celebrates silliness with such unmitigated gusto. Especially in troubled times, there is just so much reality a person can be expected to endure. Pandemic, politics, payday worries.

"I’m depressed," said a friend.

"About what?"


Cannot let this happen.

Some time ago, we came upon a journal my mother kept during the Depression.

Before the crash, Mom and Dad already had failed twice with little local delicatessens — supermarkets arrived in Brooklyn and knocked them out — and now, with all they had down the drain and bread lines around the block, they had to scramble to survive.

Both had jobs, which put them way ahead of others. Still, the situation was bleak.

"Don’t know if we’ll get paid Thursday," Mom wrote at one point. "Well, we’ll see."

At another, she noted that while money was short, and everyone was exhausted, there had to be more than worry and woe.

"Danced until three in the morning," I was amazed to read in her notebook. "Oh, my."

Out until 3 a.m. — dancing? Where? How? Mom and Dad?

In those difficult years, my parents and a few friends formed what they called the "Couples’ Club."

They visited one another’s houses. Uncle Harry played the banjo. Mom was OK on the piano. They sang, "Down by the Old Mill Stream," "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" and, late in the evening, mournful choruses of "Dear Old Girl." They drank highballs and ate sandwiches and somehow got home all right.

I know this because the Couples’ Club survived — through World War II and beyond.

In our little Bay Ridge apartment, I listened from my bedroom as the fun began — banjo and piano, jokes and laughter, heart and soul. They’d been through a lot, my parents, their pals, everyone. Life went on, though, right? Sure it did. Life went on.

What Mom and Dad’s crowd would have made of a wacko comedy called "Schitt’s Creek," I don’t know. Maybe it would be too much for their midcentury sensibilities.

But the idea that you don’t give up — that they would recognize. Brave and true, they found a way. They never quit.

We won’t, either.

When luck runs low, you put on another wig. You dance ’til three.

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