The following is an open letter, written to the star and creator of Schitt’s Creek, Dan Levy.
Dear Dan Levy,
I know that you probably wouldn’t expect a letter like this from a Conservative publication like RedState, but I felt that people on “both sides of the aisle” could stand to hear what I have to say here.
First, Thank you.
Thank you for giving us potentially the best-scripted comedy series of all time. Thank you for taking the time to create characters who we don’t just see as pieces of a puzzle to further a story but rather introducing us to new members of our family. Johnny, Moira, David, and Alexis, should have been people that we all should have found so ridiculously over the top and unrelatable that the show was canceled after the first season.
I mean, really. Aside from the reverse Beverly Hillbillies storyline, what about some super, mega-wealthy guy, his eccentric soap-star wife, and their spoiled and at-times flamboyant children, is relatable? Sure, we all dream about having that sort of wealth and success, but how many of us dream of attaining it and losing it all?
I was late to the show. I didn’t start watching it until right before the final season was released. After seeing a family member of mine post numerous gifs from the show, I thought I should check it out. Instantly addicted, I binged watched the entire show through in a matter of a couple of weeks. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait as I finished Season 5 right as Season 6 was released, and I was able to continue with the shenanigans through the series finale.
In spit-balling putting together this letter, I mentioned to one of my editors, with whom I find myself in agreement more often than not, that I was going to write this letter. Come to find out, not only does he agree, but he wrote on it earlier this year. We had never discussed the show before. We had never discussed how we felt about LGBTQ+ portrayals in media. He watched the show through its finale before I even started the show. Two times, two experiences, two different viewings, and yet, one take away: Schitt’s Creek is the roadmap for how to portray LGBT characters.
My thanks to you is this: Thank you for giving us characters who we loved because they were lovable, not because they were gay. So often in media, gay characters feel more like checking a box; it feels like gay characters are introduced to keep the LGBT community happy. In some sort of virtue signaling tactic, they (various show’s producers) give the audience what they want, even if it is hurried, awkward, and uncomfortable. Instead of introducing characters with whom we identify as being gay as if somehow it is their only defining characteristic, you introduced characters who we learned to love, and simply accepted them as gay.
These characters weren’t gay for the sake of being gay. We learned about the struggle of coming out. We learned about the struggle of self-identification and self-worth. We learned about how parents might react to such revelations. We almost all felt like relatives of David, so that as he “came out,” we all looked at each other with a lack of surprise thinking, “yeah? And?” We didn’t have to wrestle with David’s identity. We didn’t have to alter anything we knew about him. We already knew. We were all just glad that he could express himself in a way in which he felt comfortable, that didn’t make us uncomfortable.
Patrick’s journey was equally as natural. To watch him, unable to explain the attraction he was feeling, accept his own sexuality, not for the benefit of someone else but his own was truly great. As he grappled with his feelings, we identified with him, not because he was gay, but because he loved someone for whom we cared. We didn’t care that Patrick was gay. Like Johnny, we only cared about how Patrick treated David and, as a result, Patrick became a part of the family we had grown to love, virtually effortlessly.
We also got a great look at how a community should support our LGBT family. Were all members of the Schitt’s Creek community atheist liberals? Likely not. But just like the character development of David and Patrick, their faith didn’t define everything about them, just a part of it. We knew that some were surprised about the David/Patrick relationship. Some may have even been uncomfortable with it. They did not, however, decide to make everyone else uncomfortable with it by promising fire and brimstone. They too had learned to love and care for David in a way that when Patrick was finally introduced, we were just glad that they were happy. Their faith, whatever it might be, was defined through the lens of whatever creator also created David and Patrick.
Thank you, Dan, for finally giving us a lens by which to best understand the LGBT community. Thank you for trailblazing the way to tell these stories. Thank you for being a member of our families, for teaching us the means to be tolerant of people and actions that may make us feel uncomfortable, without doing so. Thank you for making us fall in love with characters who are gay, as opposed to gay characters. The entire entertainment industry, the LGBT community, and even those who are opposed to gay rights are better for it. We all have a roadmap to better understand how we can accept and love people, not as a bunch of boxes that are checked, but rather as people deserving of love and respect. I don’t know if any other show will ever be able to duplicate these efforts, but I really hope so.
Thanks again for being a member of our families. Thank you for letting us all in. Thank you for being our son, our brother, and our friend.