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Sitcom 'Schitt's Creek's' Explores A Small Town Without Homophobia

Noah Reid and Daniel Levy in season 5 of Schitt's Creek. (Pop)
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By Andrea Gutierrez with Jonathan Shifflett & Steven Cuevas

Daniel Levy's Canadian sitcom Schitt's Creek, which just started its fifth season, is all about second chances. The show's Rose family is looking for their second chances after unfortunate circumstances send them to live in a motel in a small town called Schitt's Creek.

Their new home might feel like a backwater to the Roses, but it's also a special place without some of what viewers have come to expect from a TV small town -- like homophobia.

Schitt's Creek tells the story of the wealthy Rose family -- parents Johnny (Daniel Levy's real-life father Eugene Levy, who co-created the show) and Moira (Catherine O'Hara), along with their adult children David (Daniel Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) -- who lose their fortune and move to Schitt's Creek.

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The world Levy builds for his characters strips away some of the common obstacles of the real world, including dropping a few common TV and movie tropes. In the show, David is pansexual -- a fact that's a non-issue for both his family and the town's residents.

By removing homophobia from Schitt's Creek, Levy said it freed him to focus on David's relationship with his boyfriend and his struggles with intimacy.

"You are showing by example just how full a life and how joyous a life and how love filled a life you can have without [homophobia] to fight against," Levy told the Frame.

By thrusting the Roses into a small town, in close living quarters, with no money, Levy said that he's able to bring out a lot of emotions. It's a situation where a family who hasn't always been there for each other gets another shot at righting wrongs that happened during their upbringing.

"It's a rare thing that a lot of families don't get," Levy said.

Levy tries to show by example when writing the show's characters.

"Because exposition is so boring," he said. "The more you can find ways to reveal a character through action and circumstance, the better."

Which is ultimately how he displays the relationships among the Roses themselves. Johnny and Moira weren't exactly hands-on parents, and David and Alexis don't have a clue what it means to support themselves.

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How do you show both the dysfunction of their relationship and the deepening of their family bond in a time of crisis? Through games.

In season 1, Johnny admits that he and Moira don't know their kids well -- and the family sits down to play "Two Truths and a Lie." The family learns more than they expected in the process.

"I find competitive situations that obviously don't have very high stakes to be quite rich territory for comedy," Levy said.

In season 5 of Schitt's Creek, the Roses continue working on their second chance, as they keep figuring out a new way of living.

Levy's parents -- including father and Schitt's Creek co-star Eugene Levy -- gave him the best shot at a normal life by raising him in Canada, far from the trappings of Hollywood, according to Levy. His parents kicked him "out of the car at 15 in front of a Gap Kids and said, 'Don't come home until you have a job application.'"

Levy drew inspiration for the Rose siblings in part from his time hosting The Hills: The After Show for MTV Canada earlier in his career.

"It started with having an acute awareness of how these kids lived, with very little understanding of what went into actually earning a living," Levy said.

Listen to this interview on KPCC's The Frame podcast.

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