Dan Levy has written a lot of Schitt’s Creek episodes over the past five seasons, but on Wednesday he got to share a particularly special story with the audience.
On this week’s episode of the Pop and Netflix hit, David (Levy) throws a birthday party for Patrick (Noah Reid), only to discover that his boyfriend has yet to come out to his parents.
“I always knew we were going to deal with Patrick’s sexuality in a slightly more specific way at some point,” says Levy, who co-created the comedy with his dad, Eugene Levy. “You never want a character to seem too perfect. We thought it would be a real eye-opener for David if he were to find out something like this — and certainly shed some light on Patrick as well.”
Levy believes the realization that Patrick has been keeping a secret is particularly surprising for David because their town “is inherently an incredible sort of accepting place,” and because Patrick had found acceptance in Schitt’s Creek, “he just had sort of chosen to neglect this whole other part of his life and not be as honest as he’s been with everyone in town.”
“Patrick is comfortable in his own skin,” adds Reid. “It was really interesting to see another side of him, where he’s not quite sure how to handle this situation. There’s a lot of anxiety and fear in him regarding how this conversation is going to happen with his parents — who presumably are the people who know you the best — and how stressful it must be to feel like they don’t know something about you that’s so true to who you are.”
Levy says it was important to him that Patrick’s parents not be written as homophobic.
“That was the obstacle: Knowing that his parents cannot be against him coming out, what does that story look like?” says Levy. “We landed on playing on the sort of common parental fears of feeling like they’ve done something wrong, but in actuality their fears are based on the fact that he didn’t tell them, not that they have anything but love for their son. So the minute we knew that we had that kind of hook, things sort of fell into place.”
Patrick’s coming-out story is just the latest representation of LGBTQ life on Schitt’s Creek, which early on established David as a pansexual character; he entered a brief relationship with Stevie (Emily Hampshire) in season 1.
“I think the way that we’ve handled sexuality on the show has been incredibly nonchalant, and that’s been very deliberate so to not make the queer story lines stand out in any way, because we don’t want them to,” says Levy. “We want them to be presented with the same kind of casual ease that we present straight story lines.”
Adds Reid: “There aren’t a lot of examples of same-sex relationships on television that are treated just like any relationship would be treated. I know that’s something that Dan and our whole writing team have been really [cognizant of]. These guys are just in a couple the way that anybody would be in a couple, and that’s the way that it absolutely should be represented on television. It feels like it’s really hitting home with a lot of people who don’t feel like they’ve seen that represented on screens a lot.”
But, Levy reveals, David’s relationship with Patrick wasn’t initially going to be an ongoing story line on the show.
“We had originally paired David up with Stevie to make people question who he was, because David has effeminate tendencies and I think people naturally presumed he was gay. We sort of played into that by pairing him with Stevie only to reveal that he is pansexual. But I always knew that I wanted him to experience a relationship with another man on screen,” says Levy. “Originally, Patrick was supposed to soften David a little bit. He’s gone through the tumble dry of bad relationships, and Patrick was supposed to be there to really show him that not every relationship [is like that] and not every person is a bad person who is out to sort of make him feel bad. But it wasn’t until we started scripting those scenes that I started to realize, ‘Oh, there’s something really special here between these two characters, and something that has legs and something that I would love to see explored beyond the season.’
“I feel like we have such great rapport on camera, there’s such an ease to performing scenes with Noah,” Levy adds. “That’s a really great thing when you’re making TV, when you write characters that you haven’t yet cast, and then you cast them and they work, and they don’t just work but they work with other characters and bring out the best in other characters. It was a really pleasant surprise. And we knew early on that this character was going to stick around.”
And Levy looks forward to continuing to develop David and Patrick’s relationship.
“While we’re getting to explore Patrick pulling back the layers of his own sort of sexuality, we’ve gotten to really allow that character to be a device for David to really expose sides of himself he’s never shown to anybody before. Had they not gone through what they had went through, I don’t know if David would be in the same kind of place to offer the kind of support that he did to Patrick in this week’s episode,” he says. “I like to feel like it’s all this wonderful sort of magic of relationships and how people can change each others lives in really wonderful and unexpected ways.”