Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Annie Murphy on that emotional Alexis episode and life after Schitt’s Creek

Illustration for article titled Annie Murphy on that emotional Alexis episode and life after iSchitt’s Creek/i
Photo: Pop TV

The beloved Pop TV sitcom Schitt’s Creek is about halfway through its sixth and final season, and it’s still unclear how things will end up for the formerly flush Rose family in their rural exile. Though the family seems to be making a home there—patriarch Johnny (Eugene Levy) is building a motel empire, matriarch Moira (Catherine O’Hara) involves herself with the local town council and a cappella group the Jazzagals, and son David (Dan Levy) is now engaged to his perfect life partner Patrick (Noah Reid)—can the Roses actually stay in Schitt’s Creek?

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In last night’s episode, “The Presidential Suite,” we did get closer to discovering the fate of one of the Roses. While Patrick got a spray tan for his engagement pictures and Johnny and Moira enjoyed the presidential suite at their new motel, Alexis (Annie Murphy) had a heartbreaker of a plot line. Her long-distance boyfriend Ted (Dustin Milligan) returns to Schitt’s Creek to tell her that he’s been offered a three-year contract in the Galapagos Islands, and the pair sadly but wisely decide to end their relationship. Seinfeld talked about the myth of the simultaneous breakup, but this one comes close, as both Ted and Alexis realize that she can’t go where he is, and he can’t give up his dream job for her. The episode ends with the two now former lovers bittersweetly snuggled up to “Dedicated To The One I Love.”

Just hours before the episode aired, Annie Murphy spoke with The A.V. Club about the emotional episode, the similarly emotional end of the show, and what life looks like for her after Schitt’s Creek, as it was recently announced that she’s landed a brand new series. Hey, we need some good news after this devastating fictional breakup.

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The A.V Club: How emotional was this episode to film for you?

Annie Murphy: It was very emotional because it was not only was it, you know, our big breakup scene, but it was actually Dustin Milligan, who plays Ted, his last day on set. So we were kind of saying goodbye to our characters together and we’re kind of saying goodbye to each other, professionally speaking. It was a real snotty, cry-y day for many. Yeah.

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AVC: It really comes across; it’s hard not to get choked up watching that. What do you think about Alexis’ journey with Ted? Why is that relationship so important to her?

AM: I think she got her first relationship where she felt genuine love for somebody. And not just infatuation or lust or status. I mean, your first love is so formative and I think at an older age in Alexis’ case it hit her even harder. I think Ted really opened her up a world of feeling that she hadn’t felt before, which made her a deeper and you know, more multilayered human being.

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AVC: This last season has been so interesting to watch because it’s kind of like Gilligan’s Island—obviously they’re not going to stay on the island forever. And for the Rose family, you feel like this is just an interlude in their lives. But it’s been so transformative and it’s hard to picture what their lives will be like afterward. 

AM: I know! I know how it ends. I will be poisoned in my sleep if I say anything about it, but we were so lucky to know that it was going to be six seasons and done. I think few shows get that, that when-they-choose-to-finish opportunity. The writers also wrote a really beautiful story for every character. So it’s gonna be a really kind of bittersweet end for me, but I do take solace in the fact that I think that the show finishes very, very beautifully.

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Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy, Eugene Levy, and Dan Levy
Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy, Eugene Levy, and Dan Levy
Photo: Pop TV

AVC: You’ve jelled so well into that family, even though Eugene and Dan are actual family and Eugene and Catherine have worked together of decades. What was that process like?

AM: I met Dan at the first audition and we had this very, very quick connection. Like right out of the gate, we knew how to push each other’s buttons but were also very supportive of each other. It was nice for me because Dan also very green, like he had done a whole bunch of hosting and that kind of thing, but he hadn’t done a lot of acting, so he was just as nervous as I was to start filming. We were kind of nervous little jelly rolls together. So then working with Catherine and Eugene was so daunting, but we knew right away, it became very clear that they did not consider us new. They considered us fellow actors and that made the set so warm and welcoming. So after the first couple of weeks I just felt it click and we really, really did become kind of like family.

AVC: In interviews, you’ve said that you derived Alexis’ persona from mimicking the Kardashians. Like Alexis’ hand gestures, the way that she walks, she’s obviously always in heels.

AM: Yeah, quite the persona. It’s interesting to watch, like we actually all were all together over the summer and Dan showed us our audition tapes. And it was really interesting to see because no one came in doing what we do on the show. But in every single case there was a moment where you were like, “Oh, there’s a character.” Like “there she is, and there he is.” So we did really did develop over time and I think especially like the physicality stuff, we ended up stealing from each other in a big way. I’d just come up with some of [Dan’s] face action and he’d come up with some of my hand action. As in most jokes, people kind of settle into their character over time, but I think by season two, we found the sweet spot.

AVC: Do you still have a reality show, a kind of guilty pleasure that you like to watch?

AM: Yeah, I’ve dabbled in Below Deck. I just watched a few episodes of Love Is Blind and I have so many mixed emotions about it, but seemingly can’t stop watching it. America’s Next Top Model I was so into for a long while. What about you?

AVC: Oh, I’ll still fold laundry to Real Housewives or Vanderpump Rules. For real-life Roses, it kinda works well.

Were you surprised when “A Little Bit Alexis” went so viral? It still has a life of its own. Can you talk about why you wrote that song with your husband (Menno Versteeg) and his band members in Hollerado, how that happened? 

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AM: I went to Dan because I guess I was inspired by Noah doing “Simply The Best” the season before; I’m like, “I can do this!” And then it was like, “Oh, I’m not a musician like Noah is.” But I collected the musicians in my life and we all went into the studio and I wrote the lyrics and then they wrote this. We listened to a shitload of like Britney [Spears] and Paris [Hilton] and all that stuff and kind of stole as much as we could. And we all wanted it to be a jam. Like we all knew it would have to be funny, but we all secretly deep down just wanted to make a real hit. So it’s played at clubs now, and people are making merchandise with the lyrics and really, we did not even come close to expecting… this.

AVC: What was the reaction when you brought it to the cast?

AM: People had a real good laugh. I obviously sent Dan a version of it and he just wrote back “obsessed with this,” which was the highest praise from him. And on top of the song I came in with my real shitty choreography. I have a really good memory of that day, of just doing rehearsals and people just sharing, like suppressed giggles from all around the room.

AVC: That’s awesome. When you look back on favorite episodes, was that a highlight episode for you or are there other ones?

AM: That one was very, very much a highlight. But, any scene that I had with the Roses, the family, I treasure so much. The Cabaret episode was so much fun because it was basically everyone in the cast and we were actually in a theater performing to an actual audience and we had actual backstage jitters and it really felt like we were doing the show. And that was really cool. And then like, you know, the barn dance, with the family dancing together. Oh boy. There’s a lot.

AVC: I love when Moira shows up unexpectedly to Alexis’ graduation. Pretty sure I bawled.

AM: How could I forget? What an idiot! Yes. The day that Catherine O’Hara serenaded me for hours on end. That was a real special one too.

AVC: There was also big news about you this week for your next show: Kevin Can F*** Himself for AMC. Is that the official title?

AM: Yeah, from shit to fuck. It’s still very, very early days, I really just found out a couple of days ago, but this script is really, really intriguing to me. It’s basically a show from the viewpoint of a sitcom wife who’s kind of downtrodden and is not having a good time though her husband really, really is and has been for many, many years. So it’s her taking her life back in an interesting way. And what I’m very excited about is the show is going to be in multicam and also single cam. So in the work with her husband is going to be sitcom and set with laugh track. And then when it’s the character by herself, it’s going to be single cam and kind of stuffed and ready. So it’s going to be fun. I’m really, really excited to get to work on it and find out more myself.

AVC: It’s inspired by Kevin Can Wait, right? The “schlubby guy married to the hot wife” sitcom that tried to rotate in a new wife.

AM: It’s a little tongue in cheek, but yeah, when he [Kevin James] killed his wife [played Erinn Hayes on the show—Ed.] because he didn’t know how to write for her and then he’d get to hire Leah Remini again. Kind of coming at it from that perspective.

AVC: In the meantime, we’ll be watching to see if and when the Roses finally leave Schitt’s Creek. Congrats on what looks to be a great final season; we’re sad to see it go, but it seems to be going out in an excellent way.

AM: Thank you so much. I feel super lucky to have been a part of it.


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Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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