Part of me is watching Schitt’s Creek when I’m watching Schitt’s Creek, and the other 75% of me is trying to decipher what Catherine O’Hara is doing with her character, Moira Rose, and how in the world she is capable of pulling it off. Her accent is completely indecipherable and totally immune to impression. I can’t figure out what she is doing with her vowel sounds, and I love it so much. She is revelatory. Her character is up there with Selina Meyer and Leslie Knope and Valerie Cherish and Jenna Maroney. I could watch the whole thing for her. But I don’t have to.
The Levy Family
The show is a family comedy – created and produced by Eugene Levy and his son, Dan, who play Johnny and David Rose. The family dynamics keep the conceit of the show – the fish out of water, elite in the boondocks trope – fresh because they (along with Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy who plays Alexis Rose) are so refreshing. The best parts – the most relatable parts – are the sibling closeness and rivalry David and Alexis and the parental revelations of the elder Roses as the show goes on. This show also introduced me to Dan Levy (who’s better known in Canada), and I love him so much at this point that I’m thinking of putting a poster of him up on my wall and I’m 38 damn years old.
Give me tropes and giggles and silliness and short episodes. I love episodic comedy that is smart and sometimes scathing. That’s what this is. In the past couple of weeks, we’ve not been able to go to bed without watching a few episodes and when we do, we go to bed giggling. It’s been a panacea to the horrors of my twitter feed and the general abomination that is world news. It lets me escape, and that is sorely needed.
The show is full of hilarious details and great quips, including hidden-in-plain-sight background and set dressing jokes that I can’t wait to re-watch and find more of. One of my favorites is trying to decipher the running gags of what the characters are reading. It’s been pretty obvious from the season one that the books and magazines that the characters are reading aren’t real, but it wasn’t until we were on season 3 that I started to realize they meant a little more than just the run of the mill hand props. And I wanted to be sure I was right. So I went back to season one and looked for whatever reading material our characters are engaged in, for the subtle clues as to where things were headed for them. I give you …
The Schitt’s Creek Reading List, Season One
Every book or magazine (or most of them) read by someone on the show
Stevie is reading a novel AND playing solitaire in the very first episode. I can’t get close enough to see what it is, but I imagine since this is the first reading gag, we can just assume that they are setting up that she’s the kind of employee who will find anything to do other than the mind-numbing work she’s paid for.
Their first day in Schitt’s Creek, Alexis is reading Buzz magazine, a People/US Weekly stand-in, whose headlines tend to mirror her own personal dramas. The major headline of this issue is Betrayed and Lonely, which is exactly how she will end up feeling in the next episode as her friends start to abandon her.
The night that Alexis plans her first party, David escapes to his parents’ room to read A Rare Sophistication, which looks like a hugely pretentious novel complete with minimalist cover in greyscale tones – not unlike his perception of his place in the world at that moment. Sidenote: He goes back to the party and doesn’t finish the novel because it was still on his bedside table with the dust jacket stuck in the same spot in episode 10).
While Johnny and Moira are having marathon sex in what they think is an empty cabin, Gwen and Bob are waiting for them to stop and enjoying a little light reading together on the couch. Gwen has a copy of Craft Magic magazine and Bob is gleefully reading the “latest Harold Zabel” which is entitled The Last Fallen Soldier, which could be a joke about Johnny having a some trouble with his own little soldier that night. For that matter, considering Gwen compliments Moira on how “good” she is, her choice of magazine could be a joke about Moira’s prowess as well.
Sidenote: Moira is reading the same magazine later, in what I believe is the first time we see her reading for pleasure.
David at one point is reading one of Alexis’ Buzz magazines and declares, “Did you know Richard Gere’s middle name is Tiffany?” which is a great little call back to episode 4 when Moira (and Johnny and David) didn’t know Alexis’ middle name. (It’s Claire – according to Ted!)
David bursts into the office to find Stevie reading what looks like a novel called Cypher Mind (I think). It looks like it could easily be urban fantasy and something I would really enjoy reading. As David is just learning about who Stevie is, and the two of them are learning to be friends, I like to think this title is a little hint to how Stevie (and friendship) is a bit of a mystery for David – something he has to puzzle out. Also, I love that he picks up the Corn Festival brochure to peruse while they talk.
In one of the most obvious reading material gags, Ted gives Alexis a copy of Opening Your Heart to Animals: a Guide to the Benefits of Caring for Something Other Than Yourself! Unleash the Power of Compassion after she has a terrible time at his apartment because of his rescue dogs. Hidden inside is a room key to the Holiday Inn, but I like to think that this particular gift is a big clue to where Alexis’ character will go as the series moves on.
But, of course, in regular season one Alexis fashion, the next time we see her, she’s reading another Buzz Magazine: this time with the main headline of Mysty’s( ???) New Mystery Hunk after spending two weeks dating her own hunk.
Let’s not forget that any time we see Johnny reading, it’s the ever-informative Elmdale Chronicle. Trading world class news for the local flavor. It’s on brand.
And that’s just season one. I can’t wait to delve into the next seasons and see what everyone is reading in Schitt’s Creek. Makes you wonder if Amazon ships there. Does Elmdale have a library? Can we get an episode where Moira reads Captive Prince?