Dan Levy made me cry. If I’m being honest, Levy’s Schitt’s Creek character, David Rose, is the one who had me sobbing while watching what I thought was a reliable source of LOLs.
When I was assigned to interview Levy about the show’s fourth season, I was excited to get to watch episodes in advance (#JournalistPerks). In episode 6, which aired on February 27 on CBC, David’s super-sweet boyfriend, Patrick (Noah Reid) suggests that they host an open mic night at their shop, Rose Apothecary, to attract more local clients. Whilst watching, I instantly predicted that David would be embarrassed by the idea and that I’d sit back and laugh at the beloved business partners-turned-boyfriends proceeding with marketing their artisanal goods to the townsfolk, business as usj. Instead, Patrick takes centre stage at the event. His acoustic performance of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best,” coupled with David’s wordless reaction, had me in a puddle of tears.
Until yelling at my TV becomes a viable way to communicate with characters, I decided instead to admit this during my phone conversation with one of the hit Canadian comedy’s creators, writers and stars, David Rose himself. “That’s a very welcome response,” says Levy when I tell him about my unexpected emotional reaction (I mean, this isn’t This Is Us, after all). “I’m glad—not that you cried—but that some part of it resonated.”
And the sure-to-make-you-weep song choice was no accident, either. “‘Simply the Best’ has always been one of my favourite songs, and a song that I’ve always thought was far deeper than what you imagine it to be at first listen,” Levy says. “I found the lyrics to be really, oddly, beautiful, considering you rarely stop and think about them.”
Patrick’s grand gesture at Rose Apothecary brings to mind other memorable declarations of love we’ve seen on TV, like when Seth Cohen stood on the coffee cart in The O.C., or Jim finally confessed his feelings to Pam on The Office. But as a gay man, Levy rarely saw himself reflected in pop culture moments like those. That’s part of the reason he set out to create one between David and Patrick on Schitt’s Creek. “I didn’t have anything to look to on TV,” he says. “I owed it, in a weird way to myself, to really try to do something that would connect with people and, obviously, members of the queer community.”
When it came to shooting the scene, the fact that Levy’s co-star is also a singer-songwriter IRL didn’t hurt either (case in point: Levy says he told Reid that Patrick would be singing that song, and Reid went off to work on the acoustic version himself and came up with the version that *will* tap-dance on your heartstrings). As for his part in the must-see episode, Levy says: “Obviously it didn’t take much on my end to react while [Reid] was performing. That really was a standout moment, in terms of fun times on set.”
So.. I cried. The scene between Patrick and David was beautiful in a way that needs no words. God, I love this show and cast. THANK YOU a thousand times for for making this show. #SchittsCreek #Schittheads https://t.co/qUnSuGrslS
— Dan Levy Fan (@DanLevyFan) February 28, 2018
While he may still drop references to his past life (complete with chic art gallery openings and a designer-filled inner circle) in conversation, David’s latest relationship is proof that he’s grown since landing in the unfortunately named town. When speaking about his pansexual character’s love life so far on the show, Levy says that his goal has never been to saddle David with the responsibility to help others learn about tolerance or compassion. “A lot of queer characters get painted with either a caricature brush, or they’re used to teach in a way,” says Levy. “I think that [it’s important] to merely lead by example, by showing parents that have never flinched at their son’s sexuality, and a relationship that’s come together in a very authentic way.”
Fans first got to know Levy alongside his pal Jessi Cruickshank during their years co-hosting MTV’s The After Show. Over the course of his TV career, the son of Canadian comedy legend Eugene Levy has become increasingly outspoken about politics, human rights and LGBTQ+ representation. In November, he used social media to do just that by responding to a TV review of The Great Canadian Baking Show published by The Globe and Mail, in which Levy—who co-hosts the show with actress Julia Chan—was described as “fey.” In a statement he shared on his Instagram account, Levy said that the choice of words struck him as “offensive, irresponsible and homophobic.” The newspaper responded to Levy’s statement 11 days later.
“It is important that we realize that words have meanings far beyond the dictionary definition. That word (“fey”) in particular is a trigger for members of the queer community because it’s been used in schoolyards against us,” he says. “That might have gone over the heads of a lot of people who might not have necessarily experienced that in their lives, but I felt it necessary to come out and say, ‘I won’t stand for this.’” His reaction to the review made his name a trending topic on Twitter in Canada, and has been liked more than 17,000 times on Instagram. “Veiled homophobia will not be tolerated, and should not be. We have to be more responsible and careful because we can’t stand for that anymore.”
Regardless of what dreary news is filling our feeds, Levy takes pride in knowing that a half-hour spent with the Rose family helps people escape the less joyful parts of their daily lives. This season, they’re not only dropping hilarious one-liners and early-aughts pop culture references, but Johnny, Moira, David and Alexis are also going further than we’ve ever seen to support one another. Though we’ll never be over hearing Alexis drop an “Ew, David!”, it’s sweet to see these characters slowly finding their way. “Given the political climate we’re in, to be working in comedy is a joy because you get to try to put smiles on people’s faces,” says Levy. “I think that given the dark cloud we’ve all been under for the last year, it’s nice to be a part of something that brightens people’s days.”
While as a showrunner he sounds pleased to hear about my crying—this was no single, mascara-blackened tear moment à la LC on The Hills—we both know it’s definitely a rare, albeit in this instance welcome, occurrence when watching Schitt’s Creek. And that’s what made it all the more meaningful.
Dan Levy and Annie Murphy Spill All the Secrets from Schitt’s Creek Season 4
Dan Levy on Schitt’s Creek: “It’s Important to Tell Queer Stories”
The Globe and Mail Responds to Backlash Over John Doyle Calling Dan Levy “Fey”