SCHITT’S CREEK Review: “Happy Anniversary”

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Airtime: Wednesdays at 8PM on Pop
Episode: Season 2, Episode 13 (S02E13)

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Tweetable Takeaway: #SchittsCreek closes its second season in the most delightful, satisfying way


“On our way here, we drove through a town – not a word of a lie – called Schittstown.”

“No, it was called Schittsville. And from the looks of it the town was living up to its name.”

They’re words uttered by Beth and Don, old rich friends of Moira and Johnny Rose when talking about driving through the titular town with the “low-hanging” name. But for those of us here in America watching SCHITT’S CREEK, that may sound more on the nose, metaphorically.

See, while it’s impossible to gauge just how many people are watching Schitt’s Creek each week, it’s probably not too many. Sure it wins every Canadian Screen Award, as our neighbors up there will seemingly eat up anything with substantial Second City clout, but here it’s somewhere far in the reaches of the television sitcom universe, relegated to Pop, a network most people probably don’t know.

So it’s easy for people to run across the name and scoff. And it’s just as easy to think that the actual show behind the name simply pushes a bunch of poop jokes.

But that’s not the case in Schitt’s Creek. Slowly and quietly the show has evolved the Rose family from entitled and cartoonish to humane and, yes, happy. The Season 2 finale, “Happy Anniversary,” ensures us that the family shuttered to this decrepit cesspool off the highway, at once just one long set of poop jokes, is actually enjoying themselves and their company.

Showrunner Dan Levy cleaned up the major season arcs last week with Moira winning a town council seat over Jocelyn and David earning some skin for helping his boss at the Blouse Barn. That meant “Happy Anniversary” could’ve taken a number of roads. So, instead of trying to clean up a bunch of ancillary plots (shipping David and Stevie again, shipping Alexis and Ted again), it celebrates the evolution of the characters, climaxing in a wonderful final scene worthy of a series finale, let alone a simple season finale (we’re coming back for Season 3).

CBC.ca

CBC.ca

Plots are relatively straightforward this week: Johnny and Moira celebrate their anniversary by going out to dinner at a “fancy” restaurant (they serve tapenade and wine). Johnny goes through the typical bumbling Johnny motions (he narrowly avoids dinner with Roland and Jocelyn and forgets to make plans with Moira until the last minute) but finds himself running into Beth and Don. Suddenly Johnny and Moira are in their element, joking about a rich friend’s garish stuffed bison, until Roland and Jocelyn walk in for dinner and complicate things.

Some wonderful moments occur during the two resulting dinner scenes. Jocelyn immediately senses the Roses were trying to downplay their misfortune, so she helps by working with their lies. Roland tries, too, but he’s not as wise to keep it going. Later, Jocelyn proudly calls Roland “the mayor of his town,” a touching moment between them.

Then comes the moment of truth, as Beth and Don begin trashing Schitt’s Creek only by its (perceived) name. Roland begins to seethe and Jocelyn keeps calm, but Johnny can’t take anymore. In his finest moment of the season, he rips into his old friends for being mean and catty, and for not helping them when they were down. Then he praises Roland and Jocelyn for helping them despite never needing to. Finally, he puts his foot down on old Schitt’s Creek.

“And that town you passed through – it’s not called Schittsville. It’s called Schitt’s Creek. And it’s where we live.”

It’s a well-earned monologue, especially after so many starts and stops for Johnny this season. And of course, Levy couldn’t have delivered the speech better.

CBC.ca

CBC.ca

As that dinner unfurls, the kids are partying at Mutt’s, a big set piece allowing for a couple plots to move. David seems to be stuck romantically, and it’s not quite certain where it’s going, as he and Stevie play yet another round of “let’s be fun with other people.” This time a hunky woodworker named Jake hits on David, leading to a kiss outside.

The point of this is David wants badly to show Stevie that he’s desirable, but she already knows it, so she plays him off to make him frustrated. We know by now where this should head, but Levy’s taking the longview with this one. That’s fine, but we just hope there’s more for Stevie to do in Season 3.

The more interesting story is with Alexis, as she runs into Mutt for the first time since the breakup (hard to believe in a town like Schitt’s Creek they can avoid each other for so long). She meets his new girlfriend Tennessee (calling her Tallahassee is a nice little joke), then wonders to Ted why she just can’t be herself. “You gotta get through it,” is his advice. It’s nice, and ends with them dancing together, seemingly as friends.

At this point Alexis is unattached, and that’s best for now. After spending the beginning of the season avoiding Ted (and impending marriage) and then dating and losing Mutt, she’s now only starting to discover herself against a backdrop of wide-open possibilities. Hopefully Season 3 dives into that more (a new apartment would be a nice step forward).

For now, though, everyone is very much happy. The older Roses and Schitts return from dinner and dance at Mutt’s with the kids. Everyone has a blast, and Stevie dances while high. It’s certainly a rewarding final scene, as the small but strong cast of Schitt’s Creek gets to celebrate a successful second season that fleshed out the setting, built up some characters and showed more than a little heart.

Certainly Schitt’s Creek is more than poop jokes. It’s a well-paced, evolving sitcom that’s sometimes dumb, sometimes hilarious, but always delightful.

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is a writer who grew up on “The Golden Girls” and “Seinfeld,” and writes regularly about entertainment, arts and lifestyles for a number of publications. Talk TV with him on Twitter.

Twitter: @timothymalcolm
www.tsmalcolm.com

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