Half-hour sitcoms are (or were) the bedrock of the television industry here in the United States, but in Canada…it’s a completely different story. The only sitcom from the Great White North to even come close to being a global hit was in the mid-1980s when Check It Out!, a sitcom taped in Toronto from by the creator and producers of Too Close For Comfort with American actor Don Adams, running on USA Network and first-run syndication in the U.S. and on CTV in Canada.
Sure, there was SCTV and Kids In The Hall, but those were sketch comedy shows.
Flash forward to 2020 and in an era where sitcoms are floundering amid a wave of dramas and reality programming comes a sitcom from Canada did the unthinkable, achieving something more known Emmy winners Cheers, Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Friends couldn’t do – sweep the entire Emmy comedy categories in one year, winning a total of seven awards Sunday night and nine overall. And it’s a show who hasn’t had much linear TV exposure south of the border.
Welcome to Schitt’s Creek where award-winning comedy reigns and starting next week, is getting wider exposure. On Monday, the series begins airing in U.S. syndication, becoming the first Canadian sitcom to be stripped since Orbis Communications’ Hangin’ In in 1986. Schitt’s Creek aired on public broadcaster CBC from 2015 to 2020 (and also ran on the Pop TV Network during the same time span.) Since 2017, the series has also been available on Netflix.
Debmar-Mercury has cleared Schitt’s Creek on several Fox-owned stations in top markets, including My Network TV affiliate WPWR-TV, who’ll air it weeknights at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Other stations carrying the show (either on their main channel or adjoining subchannels) include WKBD Detroit, KMOV St. Louis, WCGV Milwaukee, WTTV Indianapolis, and WBUI Champaign-Springfield-Decatur.
In the nation’s two largest markets of New York and Los Angeles however, the Fox-owned stations are stacking the show on weekends, with five episodes airing in two separate blocks, while the series has yet to be cleared in Philadelphia.
In addition, Comedy Central also begins carrying the series next week, stacking five episodes on Fridays.
The sitcom stars SCTV veterans Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara who play a wealthy video store magnate (imagine that in this day and age) and former soap opera actress respectively, who ends up going broke as them and their adult children are forced to move to a town called Schitt’s Creek, a place the video store magnate bought for his son as a joke. They are forced to live in a motel that isn’t exactly a Best Western or Holiday Inn Express and must re-adjust.
“What begins as a fish-out-of-water story quickly develops into a nuanced love letter to family, delivered with warmth, humanity and perfect comedic timing, said Debmar-Mercury Presidents Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus. “With a gifted cast and whip-smart writing, it’s easy to see why Schitt’s Creek appeals to Emmy voters, critics and viewers, and has built a loyal and passionate fan base. We are excited to bring the Emmy Award-winning series to broadcast television stations and introduce the iconic Rose family to a new audience.”
Eugene Levy and his son Daniel (who also plays his son on the show) both created Schitt’s Creek. and is produced by their production company Not A Real Company, which is in fact, a real company. The younger Levy came up with the idea by watching of all things, reality shows (think the Kardashians.)
Debmar-Mercury bought the rights to sell Schitt’s Creek into syndication with the CBC, who also did the same with other syndicators in the past including The Beachcombers, DaVinci’s Inquest, Republic Of Doyle, The Listener, and the aforementioned Hangin’ In, among others.
The arrival of Schitt’s Creek is a welcome addition to station lineups, plagued with third and fourth runs of existing first-run shows and stale off-net sitcoms such as the awful King of Queens and practically any Chuck Lorre show. But Schitt’s is now out of production, and only 80 episodes exist – which explains why a lot of stations aren’t double-running the show and many are shelving it to weekends. But it’s still nice to have something different on station schedules for a change.
The honor roll
The complete Emmy Awards wins for Schitt’s Creek in 2020, sweeping every category
Outstanding Comedy Series: Schitt’s Creek
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series: Schitt’s Creek
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series: Schitt’s Creek
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series: Schitt’s Creek
Outstanding Contemporary Costumes: (say it with me everybody…) Schitt’s Creek
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series: Eugene Levy
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Catherine O’Hara
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Daniel Levy
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Annie Murphy