The release of the Schitt’s Creek book Best Wishes Warmest Regards is of course the stuff of fan dreams, jam-packed with the kind of carefully curated, and heartfelt content that they love so much. There’s an added element to this book though, yes, it’s a tribute to the show, a brilliant marker of the little show that could—and went on to storm every awards ceremony and became everyone’s new favourite show—but it’s also a tribute to the fans that made it so successful.
Before there was an Emmy sweep before online conversations took place in Schitt’s Creek gifs or TikTok was awash with Moira impressions, before that, and indeed after it too, there were the fans. We’re not talking longevity here—though of course, some have been there since the very beginning—we’re talking about the ones who took it beyond just wearing an ‘Ew, David’ t-shirt. Schitt’s Creek co-creator and star Dan Levy is keen for the book to be for the fans, and not only does it include a plethora of fan art, but it’s also dedicated to the fans too.
Let’s talk about the fan art and Levy’s respect for it too. Not long ago, fan art was the stuff late-night talk show hosts showed actors and creators to make fun of their fans. Before that too, we had the eras of massive disclaimers on fan art and promises we weren’t breaking copyright laws or trying to profit. Levy has flipped that on its head and included a selection of beautiful fan-made works. There’s something wonderfully pure in that, and while there are commissioned pieces in there, by and large, they are works that fans made for themselves and for fellow fans, for fun. They weren’t trying to even catch the attention of the creators aside from in a ‘hey, I love what you do, so I made this’ kind of way.
So instead of outright reviewing the book—it’s brilliant, and beautiful, go buy it—here at The Queer Review we’ve flipped the script too and asked fans to tell us what the show means to them.
For a starting point, being part of something whether you identify as being in a ‘fandom’ or not too has been significant for so many fans. As Abi tells The Queer Review: “It feels wonderful to be part of a fandom for a show that is just about love and growth and acceptance. The show quite literally changed my life, I would not be who I am today without it.”
Or the acceptance and warmth around Schitt’s Creek fans that feels different to other fan communities, as Nicolette considers: “Something that is so special about Schitt’s Creek fans is that everyone is so warm and loving. I’ve been in a lot of fandoms since I was a teen, but I’ve never felt connected to other people in the fandom. I’m not really sure what it is about Schitt’s Creek fans, but they are some of the nicest, most welcoming people you can find. Maybe it’s the whole idea that the mythical town of Schitt’s Creek is a no hate zone that just naturally filters down to its fans. I’ve never felt more accepted by strangers who live in other states and countries far away like I do with Schitt’s Creek fans.”
For some, being a fan has occupied an important and formative space in their lives. This is true for Rebekah who tells us: “I’ve never been part of a fandom before. I can’t quite describe the feeling of being connected to thousands of kind, mostly like-minded souls from all around the globe. I have Schitt’s Creek fan friends whom I’ve never met who feel closer to me than some of my own family members. We cheer each other on, share what’s happening in our lives, both good and bad. It’s genuinely an amazing community of people.”
And that’s part of the bigger picture of what the series means. Yes, it’s a show that got a lot of people through lockdown, it’s a show that people love to quote, create TikTok parodies of, but at its heart, it means so much more to fans. There’s so much that’s been said by fans over the years, but equally, every one of those remarks on the show changing someone’s life or getting them through the dark times is a very human story of feeling a little better about the world. The fact that Schitt’s Creek manages to do that time and time again—long after the series finale aired—is something to be celebrated.
It’s a show that has impacted people on a very personal level, as Melanie remarks, “It has made me fall in love with being in love again. It has made me appreciate my own wonderful, supportive relationship.” Or for many like Mia during an extended time when it’s been easy to despair, they’ve found hope in the show: “It really helped me to know that there was a better world possible when I was not sure there was.” Of course, there’s also an element of escapism from our own world, as Mia adds, “It just means something I know I can get lost with for 23 minutes and end with a smile on my face.’ In some senses, of course, it’s the simple, but impactful, joy of the show itself. As Joanna says, “It is a beacon of positivity which spreads through the screen into our homes and our lives. This is my major takeaway from the series.” Or as Rebecca puts it, it has the power to brighten the day, “An episode of Schitt’s Creek is like a hug on a cold day. Something relating to Schitt’s Creek on social media will always make me smile. Hearing Noah Reid sing gets me singing along and improves my mood. Finding time to read Schitt’s Creek fanfic brings me joy on busy and stressful days.”
It is a of course, a feel-good show, and this is also key to fans taking it to heart, but also making it mean something beyond just good tv. As John reflects: “I’m a fan of the message of the show, which to me is that love is inside you and it transforms. It also has introduced me to you, to other creators, and to a community of loving people I enjoy.’
While other fans like Samuel want to celebrate the simple pleasure of having a good TV show that sparks joy: “It means so much to have a series that perpetuates doing good, loving the nutters, learning to be better, and all with a dry sense of humour.” Or as Joe succinctly puts it: “It’s a positive feel-good show adored by a supportive, loving group of people, full stop.’
Attending the book launch events in New York and London ahead of its release meant a great deal to many fans. Not least because for many the show and being a fan has been something of a lifeline over the last couple of years. Nicole said that “The opportunity to finally meet people who I’ve been talking to for a year and a half online in the middle of a pandemic felt really good.” While Mads adds, “After the cancellation of other fan events due to the pandemic I just wanted to be in that energy again. It’s intoxicating and soul-warming.” The idea of sharing that experience with the people who share that same love for Schitt’s Creek was of course a huge draw, as Abi comments, “It felt so joyful to be in a room full of people who have had their lives touched by the show in the same way that I have.” Grace adds, “To be together with the other 2,195 fans was something I will never forget.”
In fact, in-person books events even felt like an extension of the world of the show, as Rebekah puts it, “As a Schitt’s Creek fan, one thing sticks out to me and that’s the safe space offered by the show and the community of fans it has created. That same sense of a safe space existed on that night in the theatre.”
One of the lovely things about the show, and fans love of it, is how it aligns with real life, as Samuel shares, “Schitt’s Creek was one of the earliest shared interests for my boyfriend and I, so when I saw that Dan Levy was appearing in conversation we bothered leapt at the chance to go.” (may they look back on that date in years to come too wouldn’t that be an extension of the show’s queer joy?)
The nights also provided the rare chance to hear from someone you admire and to form a human connection with someone who brought something that you love to life, as Enid describes the London event: “It felt a little like having a chat with someone I admire in my living room. Dan asked for the house lights to be brought up so he could see us at the end, to me that spoke to how humble and sweet a human he is. He is always trying to make a connection. What a beautiful soul.”
That connection is mirrored by a lovely sentiment from several fans reflecting on their experience of the New York event, which our favourite ‘TV Dad’, Dan’s Schitt’s Creek co-creator, star, and father Eugene Levy attended. Mia loved the opportunity to see them together and witnessing the clear pride Eugene displays for his son, “Seeing Dan and Eugene together talking about the show and each other was so heartwarming. The love and respect they have for each other, and especially Eugene’s pride in Dan’s abilities and creation was life-affirming.”
Nicole agrees, “I have never seen a father more proud of his son than Eugene that night.”
While Magaly observes, “My favourite moment was when Eugene talked about how incredibly proud he was of Dan. Dan just sat through those moments incredibly humble and his expression was just overwhelmingly sweet.”
The fact that for fans, Eugene celebrating his son’s achievements stands out says something of the pride and affection fans hold the Levy family in, as well as the broader creative team, but it also says something about the way Eugene’s character on the series and himself have come to mean a lot to fans. As Mads says, “Honestly my favourite part—this is gonna sound weird—was at the very end when Eugene was asked to say something to us all and he asked us to get home safely. It was such a dad thing to say and considering Johnny is like a dad to me it had the most impact.”
The idea of Johnny being a ‘TV dad’ for so many fans—this writer included, but more on that later—his inclusiveness, his pride, and his support of making this queer show are important. As is the broader, often extremely powerful, impact the show had on queer fans.
Nor should we forget the power of this show to both educate and create new allies for our community. Dan Levy has always talked of the show’s ability to ‘lead by example’ and while the fans quoted here were hardly part of the ‘problem’ themselves before the show, in what the show gave them, the way it led them to think about the world, they are actually fulfilling Levy’s plan for the show to, maybe, just maybe, change the world for the better person by person. Three allies here talk about how the show impacted them.
Karen tells us, “I just love seeing how the show has lifted up so many people in the LGBTQIA+ community. I love to see what a positive impact it has had on so many people who need a safe place to land. I am not part of the community so I always make sure to give these people space and allow them to see the show on an entirely different level. Those of us not in the LGBTQIA+ community need to allow them to tell their stories and share their experiences without stepping over them as an outsider.”
Melanie adds, “As an ally, I feel Schitt’s Creek has provided a beautiful forum for me to discuss topics involving love, sexuality, and inclusiveness with my children. I don’t know what the future holds for my son and daughter regarding their romantic relationships, but I am hoping them witnessing how much I love and support the relationships in the show will let them know I will support and love them regardless of who they choose to love.”
And what of the show’s power to actually affect how people saw themselves, to shift them from ally to realizing they are part of the community themselves? Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing? And it’s happened, even in this small cross-section of fans, as Magalay shares with us: “I have always considered myself an ally, but it wasn’t until I saw this show that I actually dug into learning more about the meaning of each letter of the LGBTQ+ community. In my research, I finally found something that fit me; asexual. When I read that, I cried. I felt like this weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Even though I am married to a man, the only sexual orientation that has truly made me feel right was identifying as asexual. Therefore, Dan and this show has given this to me, at 36-years-old, and there will never be enough thank yous that I can give to them except my undying love and allegiance.”
Schitt’s Creek offered a window into how to be an ally, and invited fans to step up to do that, which so many of them did, and continue to do.
How powerful and wonderful that a TV show can lead someone to research as a way to better support others, but come away with a new understanding of themselves. There’s something powerful in a show that says both ‘the wine not the label’ and a firm ‘no’ to prejudice that allows those who love it to find themselves. This is something that happened for all these fans who spoke with us.
Like Nicole who shares that she is, “Still trying to place where I identify, but Schitt’s Creek has made it acceptable to question things about myself and be OK with those questions.’ While Janny says, “I realize now that pansexual is probably the most accurate identification for me and for the first time in my life—I’m 64—I am fully proud and comfortable with that.” For Mads, “It’s shown me that I am deserving of love and that special someone to love and respect me, no matter who I am or what I identify as.”
Kelly shares the impact the series had on her life: “Through the characters, especially David and Patrick, it helped me to realize who I was—demibisexual—and it made it feel okay that it took me a few years to discover who I was, and that there is no timetable for any of that. I’m so appreciative of the show for that. Schitt’s Creek—and my supportive friends—also gave me the courage to come out to my partner and my mom and I am forever grateful.”
It is a show that has been so important in helping people have those kinds of conversations with themselves, and with their loved ones, as Abi offers, “I cannot overstate how much the show has meant to me as a bisexual person. The first time I came out was when I was watching the show and, seeing my family’s reaction to it, I knew only good could come of me telling them. I will be eternally grateful to the show for giving me that moment.”
The series, and the portrayal of Patrick in particular, feels like ‘coming out stories for grown ups’ and these stories show just how important that actually is. The idea of ‘lead by example’ goes beyond just showing what a world without prejudice is, it is about showing different ways of living queer lives and showing people they are welcome, they too can be part of that community. Even for those not able to be there yet, that has such an important place. As Rebekah observes, “Schitt’s Creek is important because it’s a story of love and growth with a happy ending written by a gay man, with a queer relationship central to that story. Dan Levy’s attempts to create an inclusive world, without homophobia or discrimination, with authentic queer characters speaks of a better world, one we all want to live in. As someone who is not out to my family, watching—and rewatching—Patrick’s coming out and being accepted, comforts me and makes me feel seen in a way very little other media has.”
Even for those LGBTQIA+ folks for whom the show didn’t offer a revelation about themselves, it was no less important because the representation it offered mattered. It’s easy to say in an abstract way ‘queer stories matter’ but it’s important to hear from those people it matters to. As three gay men tell us here, the portrayal of David and Patrick on was impactful and significant.
John says, “Seeing the way David and Patrick’s relationship was written and portrayed has been a blessing. I haven’t been the victim of much overt discrimination over the course of my life, and I’ve been married to my husband for 30 years. So, we’re basically David and Patrick 30 years in their future, but David and Patrick had the advantage of starting their relationship in an environment free from homophobia. For us, it has always been there and is still there, and I probably didn’t realize how gut-wrenchingly beautiful it would be to see a world devoid of it until I watched Schitt’s Creek.”
“As a gay man from the Jurassic era,” shares Joe, “the coming-out ship had long sailed when I watched Schitt’s Creek. The fact that the main love story was a same-sex male couple was something I’d never seen before on television and the total lack of homophobia of any kind was revolutionary, to say the least. It did my ancient stone heart a lot of good!”
“For me”, adds Samuel, “the depiction of David and Patrick’s relationship made me realize that I didn’t have to fix everything about myself to be in a relationship and that if the relationship was right then I could be just as I am, baggage and all.”
While Mads simply puts it: “It’s shown me that I am deserving of love and that special someone to love and respect me, no matter who I am or what I identify as.”
That’s at the heart of what made the show special, particularly for queer fans. The idea that they would have their ‘happy ending’ and more importantly, that they were worthy of it and the love and acceptance that the town and the show gave them.
For myself, writing this article, attending the book event in London, and everything else that has gone with it, is because this show changed me and came to matter so much. What started as a love of quirky comedy came to change my life.
I attended the London book event because how often do you get to hear someone whose words have inspired you so much, speak in person? How often do you get to see them speak at length about the thing that made you want to be a better writer? When I left the Drury Lane theatre I cried and said ‘He’s real’, which is stupid, of course, Dan Levy is real. But I felt like his words, his world had lived in my head for so long, that I had spent so long thinking about how his writing inspired me, that to see him really there was yes, a bit of a fangirl moment. That I got to share that with my mum, who has shared my love of this show all along, was a special moment too.
For me, Schitt’s Creek did so much. I think I’ll always have it to thank for igniting in me the push to take ownership of my writing, to claim the stories I wanted to tell and to try and tell them. But also, for giving me the passion that I thought I’d lost, to follow through on that.
On a personal level, this show gave me so much too. Like other fans here, it gave me Johnny Rose or ‘TV dad’ for those of us who don’t have a dad anymore for whatever reason. On one hand, I could feel sad that I didn’t get a Johnny Rose in my life, but I can also feel hopeful that the Johnny Roses of this world do exist, and for me, in the world of Schitt’s Creek, I get to pretend for a bit, imagine I’ve got a Johnny in my life too.
It also gave me what some of the other fans talked about; the ability to embrace my own queerness, to look at myself and figure out what that meant because a show ‘leading by example’ taught me to look for, in Patrick’s words, what felt ‘right’. For me, that meant finding a new label, a new ‘coming out’ led by Patrick’s example, but also by Dan Levy’s of accepting everyone- including ourselves there too.
Maybe it seems silly, but I know this story changed me; I think it saved me a little bit too. I know, without a doubt, this show got me through. Through all the damage that had gone before. This little show told me it was okay to be who I am. To be burned and bruised by life, to be the one who doesn’t quite fit in, or who hasn’t found their path or their person yet. And that sometimes, it does work out, even for us.
To those people who want to mock it, saying it’s ‘only TV’, who tell me to ‘grow up’ and stop wasting time on things like this: I say that it might just be TV, but it matters to a lot of people, it matters to me. I also say that part of me hopes you never needed those stories that badly, to feel seen that much. But part of me hopes you do experience that one day, because finding something that speaks to you, whatever it is, always changes you, even in a small way. The fans here, who represent a much bigger community of people changed forever by this little show, prove otherwise.
From all of the fans too, best wishes, warmest regards and sincerest thanks to Eugene and Dan Levy.
By Emily Garside
‘Best Wishes Warmest Regards’ by Eugene and Dan Levy is available in all good bookstores. But for some Queer-run bookstores might we suggest Proud Geek (UK), Gay’s The Word (UK), Paned o Ge (UK), Unabridged Bookstore (US), A Seat at the Table (US), and Glad Day Bookstore (Canada).
Emily Garside is the author of ‘Love that Journey for Me; the Queer revolution of Schitt’s Creek’ published by 404 Ink available here.