Schitt’s Creek ended in truly Canadian fashion: with a CBC documentary. The sleeper-hit sitcom concluded its six-season run on Tuesday, April 7 with the series finale followed by the doc Best Wishes, Warmest Regards, which readers can stream on CBC Gem along with the full series. The doc, directed by Amy Segal, perfectly encapsulates all there was to love about the riches-to-rags Rose family during Schitt’s impressive run. This teary-eyed farewell marks a bittersweet end to a Canadian landmark.
Best Wishes, Warmest Regards goes behind the scenes of the final season of Schitt’s Creek as creator/star Daniel Levy reflects upon the challenges of wrapping a series at the height of its popularity. The doc recounts how the series, which began in 2015 as the brainchild of the father-son duo of Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy, quietly developed a core audience in its early seasons and gradually exploded into a cultural phenomenon as viewers in Canada and, significantly, the USA took notice. Segal’s doc weaves the development of the final season with the story of Schitt’s rise to fame. If the ensuing six seasons of television aren’t enough, the doc captures how Schitt’s Creek achieved a rare feat in the industry as one of few shows to end on a high note and go out on its own terms with a satisfying finale. Schitt’s Creek not only maintained its quality, but also improved upon itself each season.
A Welcome Balm
The doc encapsulates many reasons why the story of the Rose family, who moved to the small fictional town of Schitt’s Creek that they once bought as joke, resonates with viewers: it makes people feel great. Interviews with virtually all the key cast members—Eugene Levy as patriarch Johnny Rose, Catherine O’Hara as actress Moira Rose, Dan Levy as their flamboyant son David, and Annie Murphy as their indefatigably perky daughter Alexis, along Emily Hampshire as motel manager Stevie, Noah Reid as David’s eventual husband Patrick, and Dustin Milligan as Alexis’ flame Dr. Ted Mullens—reflect upon the balmy ray of sunshine that Schitt’s Creek brought into homes each week. Other talking heads include comedy icon Carol Burnett, filmmaker Cameron Crowe, and Canadian actor Will Arnett who gab about their love for Schitt’s Creek alongside members of the media and everyday fans. It’s undeniably satisfying to hear a bunch of Americans praise Canadian content.
The conversations situate the show within the age of Twitter toxicity and pervasive negativity in the media. Segal’s approach gives Schitt’s Creek credit for unabashedly creating a world replete with only kind people. The small town spirit offers a welcome escape to which viewers can return for as long as the show endures online. The series’ wholesomeness is hilariously “Canadian,” but never for a minute did it feel forced.
The behind-the-scenes look makes the job seem easy. Relaxed interviews with the stars reveal a familial atmosphere on both sides of the camera. As the stars reflect upon their auditions and the groundwork that went into the pilot project, they still can’t quite believe the show’s success. But peppered between the anecdotes are early highlights from the series, like the “fold in the cheese” scene between O’Hara and Daniel Levy that does for a generation of viewers what Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” bit did for their grandparents.
Roses for Moira
Beyond the folksy Canadianness of the cast and crew, as well as the reassuring warmth of Levy and O’Hara’s natural chemistry, Best Wishes provides a peek behind the ratty curtains of the Rosebud Motel. Some insiders’ tricks reveal the personal touches that the actors brought to the set. Chief among them is the glamorous eccentricity of O’Hara’s Moira Rose. Her performance, which earned Schitt’s Creek one of its four Emmy nominations in 2019, is the series’ highlight. Daniel Levy gives full credit to O’Hara for fleshing-out Moira with many of the traits that are her character’s hallmarks, like her humorously affected transatlantic accent, garish haute couture, and endless supply of wigs.
Best Wishes offers a mini-fashion show of sorts as Levy, O’Hara, and company highlight the designer threads that the CBC bought on the cheap. (Many of her dresses are legit high fashion names like McQueen nabbed at bargain prices.) One wishes the production gave more room to scenes like this one as O’Hara and Levy illustrate how magnificently—and humorously—the costumes and wigs accentuate the characters. While the doc takes in many of Moira’s famous looks, it doesn’t give as much credit to the David’s now iconic array of sweaters and androgynous man-skirts. However, it certainly inspires one to marvel at the attention to detail that keeps the show fresh as characters enjoy a new coat of paint each episode.
Creek’s Queer Icons
Segal’s doc unpacks the many elements of Moira Rose that make the character a gay icon. Beyond her fabulous “lewks” and self-centered pettiness, Moira gets credit from LGBTQ members of the media for furthering the show’s inclusivity. One sequence of Best Wishes follows the Schitt’s Creek crew into a gay bar hosting a bouquet of Moira Roses as fans dress in drag to impress Queen Catherine.
Much of the conversation surrounding the cultural impact of Schitt’s Creek centres on its popularity within queer circles, and rightly so, for the series’ progressive and unimpeachably positive representation of queer characters. Central to this popularity is David’s explanation of pansexuality to Stevie with the oft-quoted “I like the wine and not the label” speech that appears in the doc. Footage from Toronto’s Pride parade gives the Schitt’s stars credit for using the show’s power of positive images. The highlight of Best Wishes, however, might be an intimate moment between the cast in which Reid presents Levy with a letter from a Facebook group of parents with LGBTQ kids who express their thanks for the show’s positive and empowering representation of queer characters. It’s remarkable to see the reach of this little show.
Best Wishes, like many a Schitt’s Creek fan, knows that the relationship between David and Patrick is the heart of the series. The eventual focus on their relationship in the doc is appropriate given that the series’ finale culminates with the men getting married. A bit of quick scene analysis gives credit to Reid’s acoustic performance of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” with which Patrick wooed David in the fourth season. That scene, arguably the breakout moment for the series, receives special praise from the cast and fellow talking heads for being an objective and empathetic moment for its characters that set Schitt’s Creek apart and above most shows on TV in terms of furthering its entertainment value while increasing the stakes for onscreen representation. Similarly, Segal’s doc marvels at the bold marketing campaign for the final season, which plastered cities with gigantic posters and billboards of two men kissing.
Simply the Best
Beyond the quality of the show, the doc demonstrates how Schitt’s Creek often embodied the best of the CBC in terms of letting Canadians see themselves through Canadians stories. It’s funny, accessible, relatable, and a rare case in which Canadian content proved hugely popular when many films and series struggle to find audiences at home. The tone of Best Wishes, Warmest Regards is celebratory, but deservedly so. It leaves one with the feeling that Schitt’s Creek should and will go down as one of the best television shows this country ever produced.
Best Wishes, Warmest Regards and Schitt’s Creek are available to stream on CBC Gem.