Good news: Schitt’s Creek has returned! Bad news: It’s for the series’ sixth and final season. Fortunately for us all, it looks like the show will go out having never dipped in quality. The show’s namesake setting has certainly had its effect on the formerly Kardashian-esque Rose family—patriarch Johnny (Eugene Levy), matriarch Moira (Catherine O’Hara), and their pampered kids David (Daniel Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy)—over these past three years. (Three years in the show’s timeline, that is.)
We pick up soon after we left off at the end of season five: a week after the Cabaret cast party where David and his much more down-to-earth boyfriend Patrick (Noah Reid) announced their well-publicized engagement, and Moira found out that her comeback vehicle (The Crows Have Have Eyes 3: The Crowening) was getting shelved. Moira is still in the motel closet she crawled into in response to that devastating news, and Patrick and David already have an appointment to check out a wedding venue. All Schitt’s Creek residents are superlative, but Catherine O’Hara’s sublime line readings as Moira stand out in a star-studded field. Nothing beats the erstwhile star of Sunrise Bay in meltdown mode; her latest frenzy kicks the sixth season off in surreal comic fashion, as she mistakes her son and his fiancé for waiters ready to bring her a continental breakfast. Later she recovers enough to go for a picnic with her husband, hilariously philosophizing, “Who knows what will befall us tomorrow, John? You could be hit by a Mack truck or bopped on the head by a tiny piece of space debris.”
Meanwhile, David almost instantly and unsurprisingly turns into the fussy groom he was destined to be—excited for “pageantry that takes months and months to plan”—leaving Patrick a bit put out about whatever happily-ever-after is to come after the couple’s big day. Alexis is due to join veterinarian boyfriend Ted (Dustin Milligan) in the Galapagos Islands, while Johnny and town mayor Roland (Chris Elliott, in horrifying mullet mode) work on a new business venture. Moira says that John’s about to tell her that “he’s secured a hefty loan to initiate our imminent connecting departure from this lengthy layover”: Could she be hinting that Schitt’s Creek ends with the Roses finally leaving their rural purgatory?
It’s the paradox at the center of the final season: Any other conclusion is as difficult to imagine as the Roses actually leaving their adopted hometown. After all, David and Alexis both fell in love there, Moira has made friends with the Jazzagals, and even Johnny acknowledged that the Christmas the family spent together in the motel superseded the isolated, shallow holidays of the Roses’ loftier past. The town has been good for both the family and its individual members: In the final season’s fourth episode, Alexis makes a selfless move that straight-up shocks her brother. And Johnny’s partnership with Roland is moving toward a more level playing field, with the mayor making a few genuinely smart business decisions now that they’re working together even more closely.
It’s not just that Schitt’s Creek is funny—and it still very much is, somehow able to draw vast amounts of humor from its fish-out-of-water premise after all this time. But it’s the surprising bits of heart that emanate from the show that make it even more valuable, like Johnny’s growing paternal affection for his motel business partner Stevie (Emily Hampshire), which obviously means a lot to her, or Moira’s concern about what Roland’s wife Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson) thinks about the Crows trailer (which itself makes the season a must-watch). Patrick has brought out sensitive sides of David that wouldn’t have even seemed possible at the start of the series. Not every plotline’s a winner, but Alexis adapting her party-girl skills to social media and wedding planning is an absolute hoot, as is a setup that involves Stevie and David competing for the same job. Even an initially awkward situation between Patrick and David gets amped up by going viral.
The continued excellence of Schitt’s Creek makes it even more painful that this sweet, funny show will soon end. But the preparations for Patrick and David’s wedding and the renewed question of whether or not the Roses will stay put establish steady footing for the portions of season six that follow the episodes screened for critics. The family once greeted such an opportunity for escape with giddy enthusiasm; five seasons on, they know they’d be parting with so much more than a piece of real estate Johnny once bought for David as a joke. The feeling, from the other side of the screen, is mutual.