From riches to rags, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy and Annie Murphy try to make a life in their new TV comedy, Schitt’s Creek.

With a new comedy on TV, everything’s coming up “Roses” for Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy and Annie Murphy. But not so much for their characters who are forced to live in the small town of Schitt’s Creek.

The new 13-episode comedy on CBC, centers on Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy), a filthy rich video store magnate, and his family, including wife Moira, a former soap opera star, uber hipster son David and spoiled socialite daughter Alexis, who suddenly lose their fortune and are forced to live in Schitt’s Creek, a small, depressing town they once bought as a joke.

And the name says it all.

“It was something that was based on a premise. It was a dinner table thing, going out with friends, and I think my wife may have had a hand in it as well,” Eugene said about the show’s title, during an interview at the CBC offices. “But it’s the idea of a town, Schitt’s Creek, and then we just went off on it… shit hardware, shit food… Then, we actually came up with the idea of this family losing money when Dan (Levy) was reading an article about Kim Basinger who bought a town and ended up losing a lot of money on it when things didn’t work out.”

schitts-creek-show-2“That sort of twigged us as to ‘What if?,’” Dan Levy, Eugene’s son, and former MTV Canada host added. “We were looking for that hook and that was it and we were fortunate enough to get it into the right hands and from the get go it was ‘we want it, we need it, let’s do it.’”

If going from riches to rags isn’t enough to send their life, and dysfunction (a la Arrested Development) off the deep end, the rundown motel suite they’re forced to live in does (with adjoining doors and all).

To add even more insult are the townsfolk, who are intent on making things a bit more difficult for the family, led by the mullet-wearing mayor Roland Schitt (played by the funny Chris Elliot) and the cute, yet sarcastic motel manager, Stevie Budd (played by Emily Hampshire), who is intent on bringing the spoiled David and Alexis (Murphy) down a few notches.

In order to make this comedic dysfunction of Schitt’s Creek work, Eugene and O’Hara admit that chemistry was key in order to make things click.

“Chemistry is something really hard to do, especially in a first season. It was very important from the beginning,” Eugene said. “We wanted the audience to have an involvement with the characters, we want them to believe in the characters and I think we have an extremely strong cast.”

catherine-ohara-schitt's-creek“I knew I had a degree of chemistry with Catherine, of course,” Eugene continued, laughing. “With Daniel I didn’t know, because we had never worked together before. So I honestly didn’t know, although I had seen him on MTV for five years, and how great he was doing live television unscripted and I marveled at that. But in a scripted kind of capacity I didn’t know, but he was very confident from the beginning about playing the son. And with Annie, well, it’s mind-blowing how great she is in this show and how well she actually looks like she belongs in this family. I think it’s the eyebrows!”

For O’Hara, whom both Eugene and Dan had in mind to play the dramatic, washed-up soap opera star from the get go, getting her back on the small screen required playing someone who was completely cracked out and outside herself. And, funny.

“I just love playing people who have no idea of what impression they are making. I don’t think you can lose playing—if you look at the history of comedy—stupid and cocky,” O’Hara says of Moira. “But she’s also somebody who is a fool who won’t suffer fools, who has no idea how wrong they can be in the moment and deep down there’s such low self esteem. Low self-esteem and big ego. It’s a horrible combination but I love to play it!”

It’s easy to relate to having losing everything and having the rug pulled from under you and be desperate to get back to the life you had, O’Hara continues. “She’s not at all together and she’s just trying each day to not kill Johnny and herself. It’s really fun to play.”


The 13-episode, half-hour comedy debuts on Tuesday, January 13 on CBC.


—Toni-Marie Ippolito


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