Moira Rose, the grandiloquent matriarch of Schitt’s Creek, has suffered plenty of indignities since her formerly wealthy family was forced to relocate to the rural town they’d once purchased as a joke. Over the show’s first four seasons, the onetime patrician, played by Catherine O’Hara, lost her friends, her acting prestige, and a handful of her beloved wigs. Still, it was a misunderstanding in Season 5 that most emphatically propelled Moira’s anxiety: Upon returning from a film shoot, she discovered a stack of love letters addressed to her husband, John (played by Eugene Levy). As a distraught Moira insisted there was “a perfectly logical explanation” for the letters, the news spread through town, eventually prompting John to reveal the truth. “You wrote those letters!” he told his wife. “That week on Sunrise Bay ... you were in a body cast; they wouldn’t let you take it off. You were writing with your left hand!”
That this exchange doesn’t occur until the final minutes of the episode is only one example of the absurdist joy of Schitt’s Creek, which was nominated for awards in four categories at this year’s Emmys (Comedy Series, Lead Actor Comedy Series for Levy, Lead Actress Comedy Series for O’Hara, and Contemporary Costumes). The series is a delight not just because of its comedic timing, but also because of the tenderness with which its primary couple approach their relationship. Moira and Johnny Rose face constant, often hilarious hurdles, but their irritation is rarely directed at each other. As John, Levy is confused and sometimes bumbling—a familiar archetype for straight husbands on TV—but he never regards his wife as an object of contempt, even when her sleep deprivation and separation anxiety lead her to do silly things, like forget she’d once written him steamy love letters. The reason he’d revisited them, after all, was that he’d missed her while she was away.