The outlandish expectations of the pampered Rose family confronting its new, small-town surroundings in TV hit Schitt's Creek make for fish-out-of-water comedy gold. But star Eugene Levy believes it is the relatability of the show's characters and relationships that are key to its popularity.
The CBC-TV comedy, kicking off its second season Tuesday night, returns to the titular town owned by the once-wealthy Roses, who were left nothing but the tiny community when the family lost its fortune. The show earned average ratings of more than one million viewers per episode during its inaugural season.
"We've tried to keep things as honest and as real-to-life as we can, tried to keep the situations real and certainly we want the characters to be real. That was always the intention," Levy told CBC News during filming of season two last summer.
The veteran comic actor's son Dan, who co-created Schitt's Creek with him and serves as its head writer, ascribes show's appeal to its ability to connect with different generations.
"We have two really distinct perspectives going on in the show: you have a younger generation of stories being told through Alexis and David and how they integrate into the town and all the young people we meet there," he said, referencing the characters he and onscreen sibling Annie Murphy portray.
"Then you have, I don't want to say an older, but a more sophisticated generation that's dealing with...relationship issues and marriage and professional dilemmas and all of those things that Johnny and Moira (Levy Sr. and actress Catherine O'Hara) have to deal with in their lives. I think between the two we've somehow managed to engage quite a wide group of people."
A family affair
For many viewers, part of the show's appeal is watching a real-life family perform together.
Eugene and Dan Levy star as father and son Johnny and David Rose. Meanwhile, Sarah Levy — daughter of Eugene and sister to Dan — plays Twyla Sands, a no-nonsense waitress in the town.
Then, there's also the longtime chemistry between Levy and perennial comedy partner O'Hara, who plays his wife Moira, a former soap opera star.
Both actors said they especially enjoy the scenes where O'Hara performs with Levy's children.
"I saw them when they were babies. I remember on SCTV when Daniel was born. It's just crazy and lovely. It's sweet. And thank God they're good, because that could've been really awkward!" she laughed.
Look for more of those family dynamics and further awkward interactions between the Rose family and townsfolk as season two gets under way.
"The first season was: how do we get out of here and when do we get out of here?" said Eugene Levy.
"This season is: we're not going to get out of here as quickly as we thought we would, so this family does have a life to live, they do have to get through every day, and you can't just burrow yourself constantly in the motel room and just pretend you want your old life back. You have a life to live!"
The second season of Schitt's Creek begins at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday on CBC-TV.