Dan Levy on Schitt's Creek: "It's Important to Tell Queer Stories"

The Schitt's Creek actor and writer on normalizing pansexuality and the importance of representation on TV

Dan Levy on Pansexuality: Dan Levy's character David leaning against a black car on the set of his TV show 'Schitt's Creek'; Inline image

(Photo: Steve Wilkie)

You might recognize his coiffed hair and perfectly proportioned face from his MTV days as the co-host of The After Show with Jessi Cruickshank. Now, Dan Levy has been breaking sexuality stereotypes for three seasons with his CBC show Schitt’s Creek, which he co-created with dad (and co-star) Eugene Levy. The series follows a once-wealthy family who hits rock bottom and are forced to relocate to the small town of Schitt’s Creek—to a the place they once purchased as a joke. Levy’s character, David, is pansexual: a sexuality not limited by biological sex, gender or gender identity. But this, Levy says, isn’t the focal point of the show, which is why Schitt’s Creek sends such a strong message about normalizing sexuality.

We grabbed a few minutes with Levy while he was in Toronto showing off his Caesar-making skills to talk about how Schitt’s Creeks representation of pansexuality is becoming part of a meaningful international discussion.

Did you know your character was going to be pansexual before you began filming?

I knew from the very beginning that I wanted him to be pansexual. I’d never seen [pansexuality] represented on TV before, and it just felt in line with who the character was. It’s important to tell queer stories and to show queer relationships in a very normal setting.

How has the public responded to David’s character?

The most amazing thing for me is getting feedback from families who watch the show and who have fallen in love with the character of David—and have understood sexuality in a way that they never have before because they never had a point of entry. For them, to have grown to love this character over three seasons, and then to be rooting for him to hook up with a guy—it’s been amazing to read the transformation that’s happening in a lot of homes across Canada. It’s not something a lot of people know about outside of big cities. Ten years ago, [this] would never have happened and it’s such a rewarding and fulfilling feeling for me, because it just means that we’re hopefully doing something right.

Dan Levy on Pansexuality: The cast of TV show 'Schitt's Creek' outside of the on-set motel; Inline image

(Photo: Steve Wilkie)

On the show, David’s sexuality is more of an aside rather than a focal point. What’s the significance of that?

[A person’s sexuality] should be an aside. It’s just who they are as people, and it was never our intention to make an after-school special about it. We’re hoping to lead by example by telling stories that are just people’s lives. Showing acceptance is pretty powerful, and all we can try and do is help try to continue that conversation. Season four sees the David-Patrick relationship trying to find its footing. We have Patrick who has just recently discovered that he has feelings for a guy for the first time, so we’re exploring that. I love [that] storyline and I love what David has been able to represent.

The show is international now. How does it make you feel that it’s becoming part of a larger conversation about accepting diverse sexual identities?

As a gay person, it’s incredibly fulfilling to know that these stories are being told, and that we’re helping to contribute to the conversation [by showing] a love story that happens every single day. To know that people are rallying behind it is the most incredibly fulfilling and rewarding part of the job, because you get to see people from all over the world coming out and wanting these people to fall in love with each other. There was a point when you would never even come close to touching that. If we can contribute in any way to helping open people’s eyes to the conversation of sexuality then that’s a wonderful thing. I know that it’s a very hot button issue right now, and at the end of the day, you try not to say the wrong thing. All I can say is, if your intentions are good then that means so much right now.

— With files from Clare Douglas 

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