The empire of the series. The family in seven parts. “Schitt’s creek”, the fall of a wealthy family

Every day this summer, we redo the genealogy of the series. The representation of the family has changed a lot in the space of 50 years. The comedy “Schitt’s Creek” took home all the awards at the last Emmy Awards. A funny and touching series about a family of rich people who are rediscovering human life.

It is the story of a rich family. The inspiration of its author Dan Levy? What if the Kardashians ran out of money? Johnny Rose is a video mogul and his wife Moira is a soap opera actress. They are dislodged from their sumptuous villa as well as their spoiled children: David, a sleeping artist, and Alexis their socialite daughter who plays Paris Hilton. The tax authorities took everything, except a small village that the father had bought for fun in the middle of nowhere a few years earlier. They move into this village of Schitt’s creek, in a simple motel: two adjoining rooms with a water leak.

A hit at the Emmy Awards

It is the starting point of Schitt’s creek , funny and touching Canadian sitcom whose six seasons are broadcast this summer on Canal + and which won all the awards last year at the Emmy Awards: best actor, actress, supporting roles, series, screenplay and direction. Schitt’s creek is  of course first of all a caustic and cynical series that could be summed up by: “when extraterrestrials discover human life” . The meeting between the flamboyant ex-rich and the pragmatic villagers makes sparks. We laugh at both sides. The inhabitants hallucinate in front of the inability to live of the ex-millionaires.

But behind the humor, the series is also touching and speaks aptly about the family. Despite the crisis, the son continues to buy his Parisian creams on the internet. The girl starts flirting with the local lumberjacks. The mother looks straight out of Absolutely Fabulous . Parents rediscover their children whose middle name they had forgotten. And the old rich could finally try to fit into the landscape.

Inspired by a true story

The series is inspired by a true story: in the late 1980s, Kim Basinger bought a town in Georgia to shoot. She lost a fortune there. Dan Levy, presenter on Canadian television, takes up the idea. He plays the son and asks his father, whose ridiculous escapades we remember in American Pie , to play his dad. A light series, six generous seasons available on Canal +. A small house on the  21st century prairie .

The first season of Fleabag, arguably the most popular show of last year, opened with Fleabag, its caustic titular protagonist, devastatingly played by show creator and writer Phoebe-Waller Bridge, loudly wondering whether she had a “massive arsehole”. Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, a comedy about an animated talking horse with suspected depression has been labelled, on more than one occasion, as the “saddest show on TV”. Then there’s Succession, another crowd favourite of the moment, which essentially revolves around a wealthy dysfunctional family that envisions love as a power-struggle and affection as a competition of who can inflict the nastiest blow on the other.

Look around the landscape of television right now and you’ll realise that these three shows where interactions are laced with a shared undercurrent of sarcasm, deflection, and cruelty, are emblematic of the current cultural language at large. As it stands, our consumption habits have drastically changed, in that we don’t seem to reach out for our remotes as an escape from life any longer. The demand from shows is instead to reflect our collective disillusionment in a way that might offer us a way to decode it ourselves as well as feel more whole, as a part of a community where cynicism is the mother tongue.

Today, TV’s heroes are antiheroes (Russian Doll, You’re The Worst, Killing Eve, Better Call Saul) and cheeriness, once a staple device for shows to distract from the inherent cruelties of life, is now unanimously frowned upon. Instead, shows that turn into pop-culture royalty, are littered with protagonists who insist on making eye contact with the sorrow and unpleasantness that engulf the business of living rather than carrying on the pretence that life is a situational comedy.

Granted, the enduring popularity of Brooklyn Nine Nine and The Good Place (it’s no coincidence that they share a co-creator in Michael Schur), recent shows that fit the definition of the sweetcom might indicate otherwise. But it’s difficult to ignore that it’s also their unwavering belief in affording grace that can at times be off-putting – for instance, I’ve still not managed to finish either show because the cloying niceness got to me after a point.

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