When Dan Levy co-created the series Schitt’s Creek with his father Eugene in 2014, he had no idea that one day their little feel-good comedy would someday become a global sensation — or that they’d be nominated for a SAG award for best cast in a comedy, and count celebs like Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence and Elton John as some of their most rabid fans.
Yet it did.
Though the show first began airing in Canada on CBC, and later on Pop TV in the U.S., when it began streaming on Netflix in 2017, it suddenly took off like a rocket. Now it’s being binged in countries all over the world, and its ratings on Pop TV have grown double annually since its 2015 debut.
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“I was in Japan recently, and fans came up to me,” Dan, 36, tells PEOPLE of fans discovering the show. “And Italy. I remember thinking, ‘This is absolutely insane.’ ”
His dad agrees that going to a streaming site was a game changer. “Netflix was a big turning point. You could start to feel it on the street,” says Eugene, 73. “When you were bumping into people and they would talk about the show and how much they loved it … it was starting to happen more and more.”
One thing Dan says he has definitely noticed as far as the fans go? That more and more people have been discovering Schitt’s Creek as the world around us seems to grow bleaker with every new news story or mean tweet.
“It’s been amazing to see how the philosophy of the show, the kind of joy of the show has found people,” Dan says. “When you can provide any kind of joy for people in a time when there is not a lot of joy to be found on the news … I noticed a shift from the ways in which people were finding it,” he says. “It went from people saying it’s a funny show, to saying, ‘I need this show.’ ”
He adds, “It’s providing them with something they’re not getting when they walk outside my house. So it was interesting to track that shift with the political climate changing. I think that’s why we’re seeing a resurgence in feel good television.”
The story of Schitt’s Creek — about a wealthy, big-city family who loses all their money and has to go live in a small town they’d once bought as a joke because of its funny name — is the opposite of what one would expect. Instead of the small-town folks being “yokels” or closed-off, the opposite is true — and Dan says that was entirely intentional.
“We never wanted it to be that the small towns people are somehow ‘less-than’ the big city folks that are coming,” says Dan. “We wanted to flip that on its head, and have the Rose family be the people that have to change, who have to learn and grow. The town itself is so progressive in its thinking and its level of acceptance that the Roses can’t help but become better people because of it.”
The show’s matriarch Moira Rose, played by Catherine O’Hara (who was just nominated for a best actress SAG award for the role), adds that it’s ridiculous that the premise would ever allude to the idea that big-city people are somehow better than their new friends in Schitt’s Creek.
“Isn’t it funny that we would expect that though?” says O’Hara, 65. “Where would we learn that? From lesser-minded TV shows and films? Small towns, small minds? No. Not true.”
Now that Schitt’s Creek is in its sixth and final season, the cast says they already miss filming and being with each other — but they felt it was time to say goodbye.
Says Eugene, “We kind of accomplished what we set out to do, which is create a good character-driven comedy.”
Still, they’re very aware that the show’s fans are on the rise.
“People have been like, ‘When is the reboot coming?’ ” says Dan. “I’m like, ‘The show isn’t even finished yet!’ ”
Dan adds that he always knew it would end after six seasons. “My biggest fear is being one of those shows that people say, ‘I liked it until season 7, and then I stopped watching.’ To me, that’s so sad.”
Schitt’s Creek airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Pop TV.