While stuck at home these past few weeks, my husband, Eric, and I have enjoyed watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. It follows the (mis)adventures of a wealthy family who has lost almost everything due to the dealings of their shady business manager. The pilot episode opens with their mansion being overrun by government officials who are seizing all their material possessions, save what’s on their backs and the few bags they’re permitted to pack.
It turns out they haven’t lost EVERYTHING – they are permitted to hold onto the deed of a town the patriarch, Johnny Rose, purchased for his son, David Rose, as a gag gift for his 16th birthday. The town the Roses own is Schitt’s Creek.
The first episodes of the series expose the Roses as shallow, entitled, insensitive, and selfish, among other adjectives most of us would not want used to describe us. They arrive in Schitt’s Creek by bus and look utterly ridiculous as they unload what they were able salvage from their mansion on the grounds of the motel that is to become their new home.
When we first meet them, their snobbery and entitlement are the first things you notice. They look down on the motel, they make fun of the town, and they clearly see the townspeople (who are endearing and lovable in their own ways) as utterly beneath them. But over the course of 6 seasons (5 are currently available on Netflix), the Roses experience a familial transformation as well as individual transformations.
For the first time in their lives, the Roses must depend on each other for everything. The maids and butlers, personal assistants and shoppers, drivers and jet-setting friends, that used to fill their orbit have been stripped away. Slowly (sometimes painfully so), they all come to appreciate the humanity in each other. This isn’t to say it’s all rainbows and unicorns. To be sure, the Roses are a caustic bunch, prone to snarky humor, biting sibling rivalry, and their share of cringe-worthy interactions, even as their humanity and humility are bubbling to the surface.
As individuals, Johnny and Moira Rose, and their adult children David and Alexis, are learning about themselves in a way that only a stripped down version of their life, newly minted in a small town with limited opportunities, can teach. A successful businessperson in his prior life, Johnny has had to grieve the life he had and come to grips with the situation he finds himself in now. Moira, once a celebrated and beloved soap opera actor, has hit rock bottom and can’t fathom a world where she isn’t fawned over at every turn. David, once a sought-after New York City gallery curator and fashionista, lost all his clout and friends in the wake of the family’s fall. Alexis lived a life free of limits and limitations, and struggles to adapt in every way to her family’s new reality.
Because they have to, the Roses allow themselves to grow. Unlikely friendships develop that wouldn’t have stood a chance before. They get involved in the goings-on of the town. The Roses find ways to use their past experiences to try to make positive change. And as the show moves through each season, you see each character becoming deeper and more authentic versions of themselves. Rather than continuing to mourn what they’ve lost, they begin to embrace where they are and appreciate what they’ve gained.
Can you see the parallels between this fictional TV family and the real life experiences we find ourselves in today? Have you found yourself grieving what’s been lost? Do you shake your head in disbelief at all that’s changed in mere weeks? Do you wish it could all just go back to the way it was? Has acceptance, even a shred, begun to creep into your psyche, in ways that allow you to envision what might be ahead? Have you seen a light, however faint, that promised at future at the end of this tunnel? I wonder what we will take away from this experience. Will our grief make room for tenderness? Will our disbelief be replaced by newfound empathy? Will we try to make the best of a new reality that we didn’t ask for but find ourselves in, nonetheless? Each of us will struggle and succeed as we move into what’s next. The important thing is to keep on moving forward, allowing space for the struggles and celebrating the successes, and recognizing every bit of growth that is happening within you