Arts

Canada just dominated the Emmys — and we should all give a Schitt

Schitt's Creek broke records and put a spotlight on Canadian TV production like we've never seen before.

Schitt's Creek broke records and put a spotlight on Canadian TV production like we've never seen before

Catherine O'Hara accepts the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series. (The Television Academy and ABC Entertainment/The Associated Press)

It was an unprecedented Schitt's sweep. For an entire hour of last night's largely virtual Primetime Emmy Awards, the CBC comedy series dominated the proceedings. It won every single award in the comedy categories, becoming the first series in the 72-year history of the awards to do so. (The only other series to do the same in any other category was the HBO miniseries Angels in America, which is obviously not the worst company.)

It also marked the first time a Canadian television program has won an Emmy in the Outstanding Comedy or Drama series category, and added up to the most Primetime Emmy Awards ever won for a Canadian series.

Adding on to the two it won earlier in the week at the Creative Arts Emmys, Schitt's Creek's haul totalled nine: best comedy series, best actor (Eugene Levy), best actress (Catherine O'Hara), best supporting actor (Dan Levy), best supporting actress (Annie Murphy), best writing (Dan Levy), best directing (Dan Levy yet again, alongside Andrew Cividino), best casting (Jon Comerford and Lisa Parasyn) and best contemporary costumes (Debra Hanson and Darci Cheyne). To put that in perspective, that is three more Emmys than Friends won in its entire ten-season run.

Annie Murphy and Dan Levy celebrate. (ABC)
 

This is an extremely big deal in many, many ways. For one, it was just a very nice thing to watch. O'Hara, Murphy and the Levys were gathered together in Toronto, adhering to COVID-19 guidelines as they all celebrated one another winning their respective categories and giving lovely speeches (all of which you can watch below). 

"Our show, at its core, is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance," Dan Levy said as he accepted the award for best comedy series. "That is something that we need more of now than we've ever needed before."

The wins also shine an international spotlight on something many of us here in Canada have known for a long time: we make great television. Schitt's Creek does not need to be an outlier, and this should not be one rare moment where that fact actually got attention. It can be a catalyst for more money being put into Canadian television production, and for more eyes around the world to take in what we're already producing. (See: Kim's Convenience, Letterkenny, Baroness Von Sketch Show and the truly wonderful new series Trickster which just premiered to raves at the Toronto International Film Festival and debuts on CBC on October 7th.)

Obviously, reading this on a website run by the same broadcaster that produced Schitt's Creek may feel a bit biased. But as a Canadian who has long believed in the potential for our television output to make international waves, let it be known I come only bearing the interests of a community that has been long under-celebrated, is extraordinarily talented, and — as tonight proved — is far more worthy of international recognition than we've long been given credit for. Let's all start giving more of a Schitt about making that happen permanently. 

Watch all of Schitt's Creek here and then all of its speeches below and have yourself a hopeful Monday:

About the Author

Peter Knegt has worked for CBC Arts since 2016, writing the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the 2019 Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and spearheading the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag and interactive project Superqueeroes, both of which won him 2020 Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films and the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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