TORONTO — With his smash Canadian comedy series “Schitt’s Creek” wrapping up for good on Tuesday, it’s naturally a bittersweet time for co-creator and star Daniel Levy.
The Toronto-raised actor-writer-producer-showrunner was the one who decided to end the beloved sitcom after this sixth season, having known for a long time how it would end, so he’s happy it’s going out on its own terms.
But melancholy feelings persist and are only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevents fans from holding finale screening parties and him from getting together with the cast, crew and loved ones in person for a final toast.
“I found myself getting very emotional, which is not shocking to anyone that’s worked with me over the past year,” Levy said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, where he has a home and is developing and producing scripted projects with Disney’s ABC Studios.
“But it’s been an amazing run, and I’m just really proud of the show. I’m proud of our crew, I’m proud of our cast — I’m proud that we seem to be going out on top.”
There’s no doubt that’s the case.
What began as a hidden gem on CBC, Pop TV and later Netflix has become a global phenomenon, with countless kudos — including four Emmy nominations last year — for the story of the formerly wealthy Rose family adjusting to a humble life in a small town the dad once bought as a joke.
This year alone the Ontario-shot show has a leading 26 Canadian Screen Award nominations, including acting nods for Levy, his father/fellow series co-creator Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and Annie Murphy.
Together they play the eccentric clan who have blossomed and bonded while living in a motel co-owned by Eugene Levy’s even-keeled patriarch character, Johnny, a former video-store magnate.
“I do hope from a business standpoint, at the very least, that our show has opened people’s eyes in America to the quality that’s happening in Canada,” Levy said.
“And that Canadian shows who are coming after us might have an easier time getting American distribution because we’ve done something that has, in a small way, maybe opened that cracked window a little more for more Canadian productions to be considered in America.”
This season features many milestones.
Johnny has tried to franchise the motel business along with fellow co-owners Stevie Budd, played by Emily Hampshire, and Mayor Roland Schitt, played by Chris Elliott.
Daniel Levy’s fashionable character, David, has been planning his wedding to Patrick, played by Noah Reid, while the two run a boutique shop of homeware and beauty products.
Murphy’s character, Alexis, is now a budding public relations professional.
And O’Hara’s matriarch — the dramatic, wig-wearing Moira — has revived her acting career.
Levy said for the majority of the series he didn’t want to compromise his own vision and therefore didn’t consider audience expectations.
But season 6 was written specifically for fans, to honour them and the characters.
“This last season, episode after episode, we’ve made some pretty bold choices,” Levy said. “And I’ve been holding my breath and hoping that the audience leans into those choices that we made and really sees them and understands them and likes them.
“So far, I think we’ve been pretty successful in that regard. So this is the last episode and this is the big one. I feel like we’ve stuck the landing. I hope that our viewers agree.”
Following Tuesday’s finale on CBC is the 90-minute special “Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell.”
Levy said he feels last week’s episode and this Tuesday’s are a two-part finale: The former had some sentimental moments, while the latter ends things on a fun note.
Realizing it’s an impossible task to fulfil everyone’s expectations of a finale, Levy tried to shed such pressures and “just make a great episode.”
He aimed to conclude the stories carefully over the entire last season, “instead of jam-packing them” at the end and having characters make decisions that feel forced.
The final two episodes in particular are “a love letter to the fans,” who’ve been effusive about the show on social media over the years.
The LGBTQ community has also praised the portrayal of the queer storyline of David, who identifies as pansexual (someone who is open to all sexual orientations or gender identities) and has been met with nothing but love from the town.
“It was really important for me that the relationship between David and Patrick not be treated any differently than any of the straight relationships that I’ve seen on television,” Levy said.
“And I think that’s really been what has made the difference — that people don’t feel like this relationship has been handled with a kind of preciousness, it’s just what it is.
“The end-goal of the show is to show that acceptance and love and support for everybody only results in joy. I think that’s a really important message.”
Seasons 1-5 of “Schitt’s Creek” start streaming on Amazon Prime Video on April 16.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press