TORONTO — Daniel Levy couldn’t stop the tide of emotions.
Even though the “Schitt’s Creek” star and co-creator had always known how the show would end, and he was the one who decided to wrap it up for good at the end of its imminent sixth season, he still had conflicted feelings while filming it this past summer.
“I feel like we have our best season yet, and it’s always good to go out knowing that, but at the same time it’s really sad,” Levy, who is also the showrunner, said in an on-set interview in the tiny hamlet of Goodwood, Ont.
“Saying goodbye to all these places we’ve come to know and love, and people we’ve come to call friends and family, is a very melancholic thing. But I guess if you’re feeling a lot, it means you’ve done something right.”
To say “Schitt’s Creek” has been a Canadian success story would be an understatement.
Since its debut in January 2015, the CBC comedy about the formerly wealthy Rose family has become an international sensation, racking up legions of fans and getting raves in major publications.
Then there are the nominations for major honours including the Emmys, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Canadian Screen Awards, and Critics Choice Awards.
Levy co-created the series with his Canadian comedy-star dad, Eugene Levy, who plays sensible patriarch and former video store magnate Johnny Rose.
Fellow Canadian comedy great Catherine O’Hara plays eccentric matriarch and former soap star Moira Rose, who has amassed a particularly fervent fan base with her dramatic diction, outlandish wardrobe and precious collection of wigs.
Daniel Levy portrays their fashionable entrepreneur son, David, and Annie Murphy plays their budding public-relations-pro daughter, Alexis.
Together they live in a motel Johnny helps run with owner Stevie (Emily Hampshire) in Schitt’s Creek, a small town Johnny once bought as a joke.
“Fortunately people are very upset, so that’s a good thing,” Levy said with a laugh of his decision to conclude the story at the end of season 6, which debuts Jan. 7.
“But our fans have always been incredibly understanding and respectful, and I think they get why we’re doing it. I would never want to compromise in any way the quality of the show, because I respect the fans so much and because I respect the time they’ve put into watching the show and supporting the show.
“So it’s bittersweet, for sure, but I feel good about how it’s all coming to an end.”
The path to that end seems to be a wedding aisle.
Last season David got engaged to his boyfriend/boutique shop business partner, Patrick, played by Noah Reid. And a season 6 teaser trailer shows the main characters dressed to the nines outside the motel at sunset, seemingly celebrating a big event, possibly their nuptials.
The final day of shooting “was a weepy day,” said Murphy.
“I fear that it’s just going to be us as people crying on camera, as opposed to us in character crying in the scene.”
Reid said cast members couldn’t make eye contact with each other, for fear of bursting into tears.
“I spent a lot of time looking at the ground that day,” he said.
Before filming ended, Murphy stocked up on butter tarts from Anita’s Home Bakeshop, which is across the street from the show’s set and is a local staple in Goodwood. And she kept a memento from set: Alexis’s college diploma, which was featured in an episode and has a typo saying she majored in “marketing and pubic relations.”
Reid has a stash of products he and Daniel Levy took on the last day at the Rose Apothecary, the store David and Patrick ran together.
“Dan and I just went shopping in our own store, which was delightful,” he said. “There was nobody in there, the camera crew was outside shooting an exterior and we were literally just walking around picking things off of shelves.”
The cast sang karaoke at the wrap party.
“I had the distinct pleasure that night of singing George Jones’ ‘A Good Year for the Roses’ with Mary Margaret O’Hara. It was truly a lifetime moment for me,” Reid said, referring to O’Hara’s singer-songwriter sister.
“I always do Backstreet Boys and then sometimes I scream-sing ‘You Oughta Know’ (by Alanis Morissette), which everyone enjoys,” quipped Murphy.
When “Schitt’s Creek” is done for good, Reid plans to pursue his music career. Murphy plans to find gigs in Los Angeles.
Daniel Levy will also be in L.A., working under a three-year overall deal with ABC Studios to develop and produce scripted projects.
“I think all we’re trying to do with this last season is continue to tell funny and compelling and lovely stories about these people,” said Levy, “and continue to reveal sides of them that the audiences have never seen before, while at the same time wrapping things up in a way that feels respectful to the characters and to the expectations of the audience and hoping to find a happy medium between the two.
“And just going out with a bang and really giving it our all.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 2, 2020.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press