The Emmy-sweeping Schitt’s Creek, created by Dan and Eugene Levy, follows the wealthy Rose family, who lose their massive fortune and are forced to relocate to a small town with a silly name. But the moral of the series isn’t as simple as arguing that the upper classes should be brought down a peg. Schitt’s Creek shows us a more well-rounded picture of a society where income inequality is no longer a factor, class isn’t an issue, and everyone is treated with empathy. Here’s our Take on how Schitt’s Creek plays on its motif of opposites to show us how the Roses grow along with their counterparts, and what its vision of a classless society can tell us about bringing people together.
Alexis: “Now I just realized that this is like the last time we’re all going to be here… like this.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x14
Schitt’s Creek: A Classless Utopia
It would be easy to label Schitt’s Creek another riches-to-rags story, in which people who have everything must suddenly grapple with having nothing. But is there a deeper reason why the show has resonated with such a huge audience?
The Canadian sitcom follows the wealthy Rose family, who lose their massive fortune and are forced to relocate to a small town with a silly name. Over time, they find new lives and new relationships—and all of them obviously benefit from the experience. But what makes Schitt’s Creek different from other riches-to-rags stories we’ve seen before is its theme of antithesis. Each of the main characters has a corresponding foil, and by the end, they’ve all shaped and influenced each other. Yes, the Roses become better, humbler people—but they’ve also inspired the residents of Schitt’s Creek to improve themselves.
Johnny: “I’d like to thank you all for helping to save my family over these past few years. I don’t think we could’ve gotten through without you all.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x14
The series emphasizes this balance—its moral isn’t as simple as arguing that the upper classes should be brought down a peg. Instead, Schitt’s Creek shows us a more well-rounded picture of a society where income inequality is no longer a factor, class isn’t an issue, and everyone is treated with empathy. Here’s our Take on how Schitt’s Creek plays on this motif of opposites to show us how the Roses grow, along with their counterparts, and what its vision of a classless society can tell us about bringing people together.
Alexis: “A part of me feels like I’m almost glad that we lost the money.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x14
Johnny & Moira
We first meet Johnny Rose at rock bottom: He’s a former video store magnate who’s lost all his money to an unscrupulous business manager. He and his family—his wife, Moira, a former soap opera star, and their spoiled children, Alexis and David—are left with nothing but the town that Johnny once bought David as a gag gift. And for a while, at least, they continue to treat Schitt’s Creek as a joke, and many of its residents with condescension or disdain. By the end, Johnny and Moira’s place on the social ladder has been restored: They’re headed to California, where Moira will reprise her role in a reboot of her TV show. Johnny plans to temporarily set up his motel business headquarters while he’s there. But even though they’ve regained some of the standing they lost, they’re no longer the same people.
Roland: “You’re gonna be gone soon. You’re gonna miss this place.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x14
This is most evident in Johnny and Moira’s symbiotic relationship with Schitt’s Creek’s mayor, Roland Schitt, and his wife, Jocelyn. The four are introduced as obvious foils: Johnny is polished and uptight, rarely seen in anything but an expensive suit. Roland is crude and blunt, sporting a mullet and a beer belly he swaddles in dirty flannels. Their wives are also seeming opposites: Moira is icy and self-important; she dresses in over-the-top outfits and behaves melodramatically. Jocelyn is warm and selfless; she wears plain, unfashionable dresses and always comes off as sunny and even-keeled.
The tension that quickly arises between these couples is one based on pride: The Schitts are local royalty, and the Roses—with their air of big-city superiority—pose a challenge to that authority that, inevitably, leads to conflict. After their early attempts fail to engage the Roses as equals, the Schitts soon behave more like rivals. As Johnny struggles to maintain his dignity, he finds himself challenged, even mocked, by Roland, who’s clearly enjoying seeing Johnny struggle. The two spend much of the early seasons locked in a power play, each trying to assert their dominance over the other. Meanwhile, Moira and Jocelyn endure their own clash, after Moira nabs a spot on local singing group the Jazz-a-gals, stealing Jocelyn’s spotlight. Their competitiveness only intensifies when Moira runs against Jocelyn for town council.
But over the course of the series, they’re all forced to get over themselves and overcome their individual egos. And as these four get to know and appreciate each other, they come to realize that being a “big deal” is wholly subjective.
This mutual respect begins to form as soon as they start to see each other beyond those trappings of class. Feeling isolated and lonely, Johnny and Moira soon realize they want to be liked by so-called “regular people.” Significantly, Johnny even defends Roland and Jocelyn to his rich, snobby friends, symbolically making a break with his old, elitist perceptions. Meanwhile, the Schitts return the favor with their continued generosity: In the final season, they even help Johnny expand his motel by taking out a second mortgage on their own home—a move that sees the Roses and the Schitts become equals at last.
Johnny: “You wrote us off, Don. Not a phone call, not an email, not a nickel. Roland and Jocelyn here, could not have been more generous with what little they have… And that town you passed through, it’s not called Schittsville. It’s called Schitt’s Creek. And it’s where we live.” - Schitt’s Creek 2x13
Over time, their friendship helps the Roses let go of their pretensions, and it changes the Schitts as well. Roland becomes more responsible, career-focused, and ambitious. Jocelyn becomes less of a doormat. Still, the four were always more alike than they perhaps realized. When those prejudices are stripped away, we find we all more or less want the same thing out of life: to believe that our lives matter.
Schitt’s Creek ends with a big, climactic wedding between David and his partner, Patrick. And while many a sitcom has engineered emotional closure with a finale wedding, the moment has a more symbolic meaning for the show—and for David. Flitting aimlessly around New York, David has spent most of his life just struggling to find his place, as well as people who genuinely like him for him. He finally discovers those things in Patrick, in his store, and in Schitt’s Creek. Yet in the show’s final season, David still seems torn between his new life and his old one, fixating on a return to New York that, as Stevie points out, doesn’t track with who he’s become. So it’s meaningful that David chooses not only to marry Patrick but, metaphorically, marry the town: He becomes the only member of the Roses who decides to stay in Schitt’s Creek, choosing a life that he certainly never pictured, but that he recognizes will make him the most fulfilled. In the pilot, we learned that Johnny bought Schitt’s Creek for David as a joke. But in the end, we see it became the greatest gift he could ever give him.
David: “I just don’t think I’m finished with this place. My business is here, my husband is here, and I’m just not ready to mess that up.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x13
David’s growth is facilitated by Patrick, the nice, modest foil who initially seems his opposite in every way. David is conceited and materialistic, snarky to the point of misanthropic. Patrick is pragmatic, considerate, and affable. They’re a mismatched odd couple, with Patrick presenting a conservative rejoinder to David’s neurotic quirks. As they move from a business relationship into a romantic one, Patrick not only helps keep David on an even keel—he also helps him explore some of the deeper insecurities that hold him back. This opening up doesn’t come easy to David, who has little to no experience with healthy relationships. But in the end, he sheds his phobias around commitment and expressing his emotions—and he completely reorients his life around another person.
David: “It’s not where you want to be, and I don’t want to be anywhere that you don’t want to be.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x14
Their relationship also represents a significant first for Patrick, who spent most of his life following the rules—and forcing relationships with people who just weren’t right. Being with the unapologetically outspoken David gives Patrick new confidence, even allowing him to come out to his parents. Had the Roses never lost all their money, it’s likely that David would have remained adrift, never becoming the sort of emotionally mature person who could be with someone like Patrick. But we can infer that Patrick might have remained in his shell as well.
Patrick: “I’ve spent most of my life not knowing what right was supposed to feel like, and then I met you.” - Schitt’s Creek 4x07
David also learns from Stevie and she from him. With her sardonic wit and her own deeply rooted insecurities, Stevie is perhaps the most like David in the entire town. Their only real differences have to do with money. Their friendship proves to be invaluable for both: David regularly seeks Stevie’s advice before anyone else’s, because she seems to see exactly who he is. And David helps Stevie overcome her own natural introversion and lack of confidence, embracing the badass she always was.
Stevie: “I know everything about you, about your history, your family, and I’m still here.” David: “I think you’re my best friend.” - Schitt’s Creek 4x08
Stevie gets more than a friendship out of the bargain—she also gets a new family in the Roses, who similarly encourage her to realize her potential. Under Johnny’s tutelage, Stevie becomes empowered in her career, taking new pride in the motel she once treated like a burden. And at Moira’s prodding, she steps well outside her comfort zone and realizes that she’s capable of much, much more. While Stevie spends most of the series longing vaguely to be somewhere else, thanks to the opportunities and the support the Roses provide, she realizes she doesn’t really need to go anywhere. Like David, she finds her true fulfillment right where she is.
Stevie: “I didn’t need to live in a big city. I… guess I just needed to know that I could.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x13
Of all the show’s characters, it’s arguably Alexis who grows the most. The globetrotting celebutante begins with no higher aspirations than being rescued by a wealthy man who can feed her expensive tastes. But by the end of the series, she’s finally graduated high school, earned an associate’s degree, launched her very own business, and accepted a great job offer in New York. This erstwhile embodiment of the word “dependent” for her rich daddy has become fully independent, for the first time in her life.
Alexis: “As of today, feel free to refer to me as Alexis Rose, Founder and CEO of Alexis Rose Communications.” - Schitt’s Creek 4x09
Alexis’s evolution is shown most clearly through Ted. Their relationship is initially based on superficialities: Alexis is drawn to Ted since as the town’s veterinarian, he’s as close as she can get to a rich doctor—and she considers him one of the few men worthy of dating her. But throughout their romance she still holds herself out as superior, disregarding Ted’s actual feelings, even when it comes to his marriage proposal.
Alexis breaking Ted’s heart actually helps him find himself. But more importantly, it allows both of them to see each other as equals, beginning first as coworkers—where this time, Ted is her superior. By shifting this power balance, they’re able to really get to know each other, nurturing a friendship that blossoms into a renewed romance, one that’s far more even. And while it ultimately doesn’t work out, it’s only because Ted has helped Alexis to grow into the kind of strong, independent person who would choose to follow her own career instead.
Alexis’s own counterpart in town is Twyla, the loopy diner waitress who, in many ways, is Alexis’s mirror image. Both are slightly ditzy and lost in their own worlds. Both can be blunt and oblivious but are generally shown to be goodhearted. Both hail from dysfunctional families that have been upended by their father’s mistakes. Tellingly, they even date the same guy, Mutt.
It’s clear that Twyla is who Alexis could be without her wealth and her status to insulate her. And Alexis is who Twyla would be when stripped of her small-town modesty and friendliness. Schitt’s Creek suggests that it’s nurture, rather than nature that’s shaped these two women. And the actress Annie Murphy, who plays Alexis, seems to agree: “Alexis is so much a product of her environment,” she told Variety. “Growing up with all of the insincerity and falseness around her, she became one person. But then plunked into another environment where she had the opportunity to show kindness and sensitivity and independence and intelligence—being in the town gave her the opportunity to figure out who she actually was.”
The show’s final episodes directly confront this notion, with the surprise revelation that Twyla is, in fact, extremely wealthy, having won 92 million dollars in the lottery. The fact that Twyla has kept this a secret reinforces the idea that class, status, and wealth are not only about perceptions—they can actually be limitations. It’s a lesson that Alexis takes to heart: When Twyla offers to float Alexis money to get her started in New York, Alexis politely declines. And while Twyla inspires Alexis to believe in herself and be her own person, Alexis inspires Twyla to let go a little bit—to use her wealth for the right reasons, and buy the cafe she loves.
Twyla: “Money can buy a lot of snowmobiles, but it can’t buy happiness. So it’s about how you live your life. You know, doing what makes you smile.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x13
The show reinforces the parallel track of their lives with a clothing swap, where Twyla initially tries taking a bright pink dress from Alexis. Notably, this is the exact same dress Alexis that wears in the pilot—and Alexis takes it back. The dress has become more than just a vestige of Alexis’s wealth and status. It’s a symbol of where Alexis’s journey began and the life that first brought her to Schitt’s Creek, where, like the rest of the family, she’s discovered her truest self.
Schitt’s Creek premiered in 2015, at a time when so-called “wealth porn” reality series dominated pop culture. Dan Levy has said that he was inspired to create the show by asking himself, “Would the Kardashians still be the Kardashians without their money?” Meanwhile, Annie Murphy has said she patterned Alexis’s high-pitched vocal fry and exaggerated wrist flicks after the mannerisms of socialites like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. The show reflected a moment when our fascination with the super-rich was beginning to bleed over into fatigue, mockery, and even resentment.
Some of the show’s early success can likely be attributed to this sentiment: We’ve seen a growing number of “eat the rich” stories that play on the widening gap between haves and have-nots—many of them seeing the wealthy becoming humbled, made miserable, or even killed by a fed-up working class. But Schitt’s Creek ended up subverting this narrative as well: While we might initially take a twisted satisfaction in seeing the Rose family lose everything, we soon learn to care for them the way the rest of the town does.
In reexamining the metaphorical value of money, Schitt’s Creek presents a place where the rich are not punished but rather given the freedom to become more authentic—where they’re no longer trapped by the expectations and the confines of their lifestyle. We watch them become regular, actual people who learn to prioritize what’s truly important—beginning with themselves. Schitt’s Creek may have started as a joke about the wealth and the status that keep us apart, but it became a show about all the things that unite us.
Johnny: “I just wanted one last look. Driver, we’re ready.” - Schitt’s Creek 6x14