Dan Levy spills Schitt's Creek season 4 secrets: The musical moments, emotional journeys, and more
We're getting to the emotional part of our Schitt's Creek journey.
For season 3 of EW's BINGE podcast, we're recapping Schitt's Creek with Dan Levy himself. Every Wednesday, the showrunner, co-creator, and star of the Emmy-nominated CBC and Pop TV comedy breaks down a season with EW's Shana Naomi Krochmal and Patrick Gomez. He shares behind-the-scenes secrets and walks us through some of the show's iconic moments. Follow along and you'll be ready when the final season premieres in January.
In this week's episode, which you can hear below, we cover season 4, the most musical and emotional season yet. They break down Patrick's epic open mic serenade, the iconic "you make me feel right" speech, and David's two musical numbers. Here are just a few highlights from this week's BINGE, which you can subscribe to on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.
That one year at Asbestos Fest
Moira Rose is an enthusiastic philanthropist. When Eva Longoria dropped out of the Everybody Nose benefit due to exhaustion, Moira did the pair's ventriloquist act on her own. She also got Winnie Mandela to RSVP to an Artists Against Eczema benefit within an hour. So, it's no surprise that she jumped at the chance to get involved with Asbestos Fest — even if she thought it was a celebration of the town's asbestos at first.
Excited to be front and center at first, Moira is faced yet again with the prospect of acting, which she is a bit fearful of after such a long time away. "She decides on the Patty Hearst one-woman show and realizes that she can't pull it off," Levy says. "And David who, I guess when push comes to shove, will do what he can for his mother because I think they have a very wonderful bond, agrees to participate in their Christmas medley that they would do at their holiday parties every year."
Turns out their painful-yet-incredible duet was initially written differently. Levy scripted the medley to be a solo for Moira, but Catherine O'Hara wanted him to sing it with her. "The look in her eyes when she told me was like, you'll be doing this. And I said, ‘When ‘will I ever get this opportunity again to be immortalized on television?'" Levy shares. O'Hara worked out the whole tune, sent it to Levy to learn his part, and that magical musical Schitt's Creek moment was born.
Patrick's Simply the Best
Moira and David gave us the funniest musical moment of the season, but Patrick delivered the most iconic one. During an open mic event at Rose Apothecary, Patrick dedicates a performance of "Simply the Best" to David, a romantic performance that surely touched anyone watching.
"I knew that he could pull it off. I find it incredibly cringy, people singing generally, but I knew that he had such a confidence and a conviction to that side of his artistry that I wanted to use it," Levy says about Noah Reid's abilities.
Levy scripted the moment as "Patrick sings a surprisingly beautiful cover," but that wonderful stripped back version was all Reid. The actor said he'd give it a try and after a few weeks, he returned with the acoustic tune heard in the episode. "If we didn't have that song and he didn't do it the way that he had, I think that scene would not have had the kind of weight that it did and the ability to change my character in the way that it did," Levy says.
The weight of the song even got to O'Hara, who couldn't get through the scene without crying. Moira holding a tissue was not initially part of the scene, but was kept in to "show the candidness of television" according to Levy, who also says, "It was a moment that, for me, meant a lot because it was a parent supporting their kid."
"I think for us to be able to project a loving and supportive family in a moment when it counts was really important. And to show that kind of physical support of a parent supporting their queer child in a really lovely and magical time in their life was a message that I wanted to get out there," he explains.
Watching Patrick serenade David in front of a live audience was incredibly emotional and an important step for the beloved couple. Levy calls it a moment where things in a relationship progress to the next level, one that could be dramatized. An emotional moment the comedy earned after four seasons. "I think each of our characters in the fourth season were experiencing emotional stakes that they had not been used to before," Levy says, "We've earned the ability to ride that fine line between comedy and real human moments.
"You make me feel right"
David knew Patrick's previous relationships were with women, but being faced with the reality of his boyfriend's past was a completely different matter. When Alexis accidentally brings Patrick's ex-fiancée Rachel to a family barbecue, things get complicated for the couple.
Rachel's appearance sparked a deep panic in David who "was on the precipice of loving someone" and used the situation as a reason to confirm his own belief that bad things always happen to him. "I didn't want the relationship to be super easy. I didn't want it to just constantly fall into place," Levy explains.
David's panicked reaction turns into a reason to apologize after Patrick explains what their relationship means to him, delivering one of the show's most powerful speeches. He tells David that his past relationships and engagement to Rachel never felt right and that David makes him "feel right." "That was also a moment when we got to have Patrick really understand what the relationship means to him and really contextualize his sexuality a bit," Levy adds. After Patrick makes his feelings clear, David has to "earn that back after throwing a bit of a hissy fit and embarrassing himself."
Simply the Best: The Sequel
David's reaction to Rachel's appearance required an apology, one that included another musical moment for viewers to enjoy. To mend his things with Patrick, David lip-synced for his relationship with another performance of "Simply the Best."
Levy liked the idea better as a part of his script than as an actual thing he had to perform. "You get up to the day and it's like, I don't, I'm not a dancer. I'm not really a performer. I'm not a musician. I don't know what I'm going to do," he shares. Fortunately, Levy got some help: a bottle of Prosecco. "We shot that scene right after lunch and I requested a bottle of Prosecco to have over lunch, Noah and I split the bottle and we shot it," he says. The result was a wonderful song-and-dance, which was made up of footage mainly from the first take.
While David was a man on a mission, Levy was uncomfortable doing the scene, which he calls "so outside" of his comfort zone. "As an actor, it was the most unsafe I've ever felt, he explains, "that level of unabashed, just lack of consideration for how this is going to look or appear on film."
The scene got a strong reaction from the Schitt's Creek crew and viewers. It was planned to be humorous, but those behind the camera were crying after it was shot. "I thought I had done it wrong and I think at times there are moments that come out of when you're making TV that are unexpected," he says. "I don't think I knew what the context of the moment was and how emotional it would be, I guess, for people who were invested in the storyline." The viewers maintained that same energy when messages came in from people who shared they were also sobbing after watching David's performance.
Plus, the song charted after the episode aired. So all that work was simply the best after all.
Schitt's Creek embraces drama
Season 4 of Schitt's Creek was full of powerful, emotional moments in addition to the usual laughs and, according to Levy, it's when the comedy roped people into the show.
"We had been slowly but surely building people who were interested and I think getting to a point where we could earn the kinds of emotional stakes … that "made people feel a kind of closeness to the show that was beyond just the comedy." The season included exploring queer relationships and other new and uncharted territory within the relationships of these characters that viewers grew to love.
"You can be a comedy and not be scared of drama as well," Levy adds.
Schitt's Creek's sixth and final season begins Jan. 7 on Pop TV. New episodes of EW's BINGE are released each Wednesday.