You thought the Emmy nominations would be predictable, then ‘Schitt’s Creek’ happened

Posted at 3:30 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 16:42:23-04

There was no telling exactly how hot “Schitt’s Creek” was prior to Tuesday’s Emmy nominations.

Sure, the Canadian comedy enjoyed a heaping helping of pre-award season buzz, topped a number critics’ best-of lists in the last few years and has a cult following that successfully boosted word-of-mouth awareness about one of peak TV’s best sleeper hits. But in a time when names like Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”) and George Clooney (“Catch-22”) end up on snubs lists, it’s apparent that competition is stiff for television series in this era with more TV — and more great TV — than ever.

Still, Pop Network fave “Schitt’s Creek,” which airs on CBC Television in Canada, proved to have the heft it needed to break through, landing four nominations, including one for best comedy.

“Quite honestly, I have to admit, I always thought our chances were probably slim, you know?” co-creator and star Eugene Levy told CNN.

He and son/co-creator Daniel Levy had their money on Catherine O’Hara scoring a nomination, if anything.

They were right. She earned a nomination for best actress in a comedy, but they hadn’t predicted the nomination in the overall category, the other for best contemporary costumes or the one for Eugene Levy in the best actor in a comedy category.

“Boy I’ll tell ya, ending up with four nominations…that really…wow,” he said.

Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara play Johnny and Moira Rose on “Schitt’s Creek.” The couple, along with their two children (played by Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy), are forced to relocate to a remote town called Schitt’s Creek after their family finds themselves in financial ruin.

The family owns the town, which was purchased as a joke many years before.

The half-hour comedy made its debut in 2015 and was steady to climb in awareness and viewers. As Vulture previously reported, it rose 26% in linear ratings between its first to second seasons, to just over 330,000 viewers, a still relatively modest number.

A lot changed in January 2017, when the show’s first two seasons were made available on Netflix and the show was suddenly presented to an even bigger audience. (Pop is available in 70 million households, according to the network. Netflix has 139 million subscribers worldwide.)

After that, awareness of the comedy gem skyrocketed, Levy said.

“I think it’s been enormous,” Levy said. “I think that’s where most viewers started watching the show. I give Pop a lot of credit for picking us up in the first place and they’ve been quite happy for what the show’s been doing for their network; very pleased with their numbers. But, it really was Netflix that created an awareness factor for the show that you could tangibly feel, which is people coming up to you on the street and at restaurants and at airports and only talking about the show. There’s no question about that.”

Just 4 years old, Pop is a relatively new addition to the TV landscape. It made headlines last month after it picked up Netflix’s “One Day at a Time” after it was canceled by the streaming network.

It currently has other original shows like “Florida Girls” and “Flack,” starring Anna Paquin.

Before that, it’d had been mostly been known as home to reruns of TV shows like “90210,” “ER,” and “Charmed,” with a lineup geared toward TV viewers who came of age in the ’80s and ’90s.

With that in mind, “Schitt’s Creek” really is something of a perfect marriage between a throw-back comedy and a modern lens. The town in which the show is set is populated by a cast of characters both ridiculous and ridiculously entertaining. Stealthily woven into the fabric is an impressive jokes per minute ratio and storylines that tug at the heart, like that of pansexual hipster David (Daniel Levy) and his boyfriend Patrick (Noah Reid).

“Nobody could have thought when we started this thing six years ago that we’d still be around, let alone getting any Emmy nominations for it,” Eugene Levy said. “But it’s a lot of hard work and a goal to produce the best character comedy that we could.”

“Schitt’s Creek” concluded production on its sixth and final season in June. It will air in January 2020.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Pop Network’s reach. It is available in 70 million households.