During the 10th episode of the first season of “Schitt’s Creek,” David, played by show co-creator Dan Levy, and Stevie, played by Emily Hampshire, are forced to make a tough decision on their way to a party: Do they bring red or white wine?
The new friends (who, by the way, recently slept together) find themselves in that confusing space that springs up when two people cross the line between friendship and sexual intimacy. For Stevie, the situation is even more confusing because until that moment, she assumed David was, like her, attracted only to men.
“Just to be clear, I’m a red wine drinker,” she tells him. “I only drink red wine. And up until last night, I was under the impression that you, too, only drank red wine. But I guess I was wrong?”
David, aware of the conversation’s subtext, assures her that yes, he does drink red wine. “But I also drink white wine,” he says. “And I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé. And a couple of summers back, I tried a merlot that used to be a Chardonnay, which got a bit complicated.”
“I like the wine and not the label,” he adds.
Like many of the gifts “Schitt’s Creek” has given fans over five seasons, this moment is simple, funny, impactful ― and involves wine. The acknowledgment and explanation of David’s sexuality (he is, as viewers come to learn, pansexual) in a smart, nonjudgmental and easy-to-grasp manner is just one of many ways “Schitt’s Creek” has helped to increase the visibility of marginalized identities, shatter stereotypes and create a safe space for its viewers.
Because of moments like this, GLAAD honored Levy in 2019 for “expanding representation of the spectrum of identities within the LGBTQ community in a way that other content creators should model,” according to a release.
“Schitt’s Creek,” which premieres its sixth and final season Tuesday on Pop TV, also received four 2019 Emmy nominations and, perhaps most importantly, has collected a faithful legion of fans who marvel at its ability to be laugh-out-loud funny without being cruel; educational without being pedantic; and a mirror for people not used to seeing themselves on TV.
So it’s really no surprise that a request HuffPost sent out early this month asking for stories about how “Schitt’s Creek” has positively affected fans’ lives garnered a response bigger than Moira’s wig collection.
27-year-old Thomas Palladino told HuffPost he’d been struggling with his sexuality “for years” when he started watching the series in 2018. “I never felt like I fit into a box, or that one sexual preference was the one for me,” he said. “That scene in the wine store, it was literally like a light went off in my head. As soon as it ended I was like, ‘Oh, shit, this is the conversation I need to start having with myself.’ I had never seen someone like him on TV. It just excited me and made me start my journey ― as I watched it, that’s when it started for me.”
Palladino called the LGBT Center of New York, which connected him to Identity House, a nonprofit that offers resources to the LGBTQ community, including peer-to-peer and mental health counseling specifically geared toward people in the coming-out process. Palladino enrolled in a 10-week program, ultimately coming out as bisexual first to two friends and eventually to family and on Instagram in 2019.
“If it wasn’t for this show, I wouldn’t have called the center or used these amazing resources that are available for free,” Palladino said. On the night he came out to his friends, his counselor coached him through it over text, encouraging him to “channel his David.”
Fans of the show have used social media to not only share their stories but to thank the “Schitt’s Creek” family directly ― and in real time. Ellie Mitchell decided to come out to her mother on Dec. 9, 2019, and immediately after she did, she shared an emotional video on Twitter. “I would not have been able to have done this without ‘Schitt’s Creek’, she said tearfully. “Wow, that show, that’s helped me a lot.”
“And so I cried,” Levy tweeted in response. “Sending you so. much. love.”
The scene in which Patrick, David’s business-turned-romantic-partner played by Noah Reid, comes out to his parents was the final push Mitchell needed to do the same, she told HuffPost. “It will never fail to make me cry,” she said. “Seeing a positive outcome from Patrick’s parents showed me there’s really a high chance everything is going to be okay.”
Of course, “Schitt’s Creek” is not a place in the real world. It’s a dream of a town in which discrimination does not exist and somehow a successful apothecary does. But fictional or not, the show has helped fans deal with their own very real experiences.
New York City-based Jay told HuffPost he understood himself to be straight for most of his life, but a fast friendship with a gay co-worker began to make him question his identity. It was during this time that he watched Patrick and David’s relationship blossom onscreen, and he began to see similarities to his own situation. When he finally worked up the courage to share how he felt and discovered his co-worker did not feel the same way, he was devastated. But his willingness to be vulnerable has helped him live a more honest and fulfilling life as a bisexual man.
“Until you fall for someone of the same gender, you don’t realize how easy falling for a person and not a gender is.”
“I told a friend what happened, and he was like, ‘You have to meet this guy I know ― he basically told me the story you just told me two months ago,’ and that person has become a really good friend of mine,” Jay said. “I was able to connect with other people who are like me. Until you fall for someone of the same gender, you don’t realize how easy falling for a person and not a gender is.”
And then there are also individuals who see themselves in Levy’s David in terms of both personality and style.
“I have never related to a character like I have related to David ― like ever,” Roland Massow, who resides in Omaha, Nebraska, told HuffPost. “And I watch a disgusting amount of television.” In fact, Massow identifies with David and the show so much, he dressed up as Moira Rose, played by Catherine O’Hara, for an (epic) Halloween photoshoot in October 2019.
Massow, who identifies as bisexual, doesn’t credit the show with encouraging him to come out, but he says it still had a major impact on him thanks to its commitment to visibility. “There’s no representation for bi men in the media,” he said. “In the beginning, I think you assume David is gay and then he sleeps with Stevie, and I was just like, ‘Wow, that’s me.’”
With “Schitt’s Creek” coming to an end after this season, it’s hard to imagine another show quite like it coming along and taking its place ― and that’s OK. Its legacy will not only be its clever one-liners or impressive character growth. It’s a show that will long be remembered and beloved for being a beacon of acceptance, humor, and in Levy’s words, for pushing the message that “love is best served unconditionally.”
In other words, it’s “simply the best.”
The sixth season of “Schitt’s Creek” premieres Tuesday, Jan. 7 on Pop TV and CBC. Previous seasons are also available on Netflix.