Yet another brilliant review as part of Serein’s Empathy Through Art series.
Pooja Shahani and I, through “Metamorphosis”, have been working with organizations to turn around the cliched “VUCA” times idea (marked by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), to embrace a new kind of “VUCA”. This VUCA is focused on Vulnerability, Understanding, Courage and Accountability as a path to inclusion. Today, as I was celebrating along with thousands of fans of the sleeper-hit show Schitt’s Creek that just broke records with its seven Emmy awards, I realized that one reason I absolutely love this show is its embodiment of this “New VUCA”.
[For those who have not watched the show, it is a comedy focused on the Rose family (parents Moira and Johnny, their son David and daughter Alexis) who lose their obscene wealth overnight and start a new life in a town called Schitt’s Creek.]
I don’t recall any other TV show that is, in the words of Eugene Levy (creator and lead actor) such a “…celebration of inclusivity, castigation of homophobia and a declaration of the power of love”. Here are some reasons why I think the show embodies the “New VUCA” (minor spoiler alert)…
- The characters slowly make their ways into our hearts through moments of reluctant vulnerability. Like the fan favourite scene where the very insecure, cynical David is bowled over and charmed when his “butter voiced beau” serenades him with an unexpected cover of Tina Turner’s Simply the Best. And the time David returns the favour with a no-holds-barred lip sync! And of course, the lovely moment when Stevie and David realize that they’re each other’s best friend (after all, they know all the most embarrassing, shameful, sad parts of each other’s lives, and still are there for each other!)
- There are so many bizarre moments (after all, it’s a comedy!) – especially ones involving Moira’s delightfully eccentric clothes and hard-to-place accent – that some of the ‘understanding’ sneaks up to us. E.g. when David explains that he is a pansexual (without ever using the word!) to Stevie using a slightly clumsy but still beautiful metaphor when they are buying wine – it is the wine that matters, and not the label! Another time the show gently broke stereotypes is when David and Ted have a genuine, heart-to-heart which changes both of them for the better. It is not often that TV shows men relating emotionally with each other, and this moment was so ‘in character’ for both of them that we don’t even realize how momentous it is until later!
- One of the sweetest love stories I’ve watched on screen is the one in Schitt’s Creek. The fact that this love story happens to be between two men is merely incidental – such a refreshing change from the caricatured and stereotype-ridden portrayal of queer people elsewhere. It is a story of courage as well – as the partners conquer their past demons of failed relationships, insecurity and trust issues by making each other feel safe, loved and included. Other examples – like when the Roses realize the empty snobbery of their old life and friends, when Alexis decides to go back to school, when Stevie sings her heart out on stage and Ted gets his heart broken over and over again – show us the courage it takes to truly grow out of past ways into more loving new ways.
- A really important message this show drives home is that inclusion and equality might require sacrifices. Unlike other storybook romances, where a couple must be married or somehow together for them to ‘live happily ever after’, one of the show’s storylines is a refreshing reminder that if you really love someone, you will let them soar and be the best version of themselves they can, without holding them back. Demanding nothing but ‘simply the best’ for the other person, is perhaps the most ‘accountable’ you can ever feel for someone else.
With so many special moments, jokes and phrases to cherish from this show, I’ll probably close with a reminder from Alexis Rose, that also gets to the heart of inclusion, “You do you!”