You Are My Happy Ending Book Cover Art
Books, Reviews

You Are My Happy Ending Review: A Heartwarming Look at ‘Schitt’s Creek’s’ Legacy

If anyone was around during the height of COVID-19 in 2020, they know of Schitt’s Creek‘s meteoric rise thanks to being on Netflix. This Canadian-born comedy swept the Emmy Awards that year, and fans found themselves inside the family dynamics of the love-filled show.

Born out of the creative minds of father-son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, this comedy about a dysfunctional family quickly captured hearts due to its relatable nature. Even now, almost 4 years after its series finale, the show continues to maintain a following, especially within the queer community.

That is thanks in large part to its attention and care for queer narratives written by and about queer individuals.

That is what Emily Garside attempts to break down and analyze with her latest book, You Are My Happy Ending: Schitt’s Creek and the Legacy of Queer TV.

Queering the Narrative

Schitt's Creek Finale

One of the strongest points Garside makes throughout her novel is that Schitt’s Creek remains successful because it changes what we expect not only from queer media but from dysfunctional family comedies as well. She calls this “queering the narrative” throughout each section and references how turning the norm on its head has been a large contributing factor to how this show speaks to all types of people.

In fact, the idea that this extremely rich family is forced to go to a small town after losing everything and ends up finding themselves is the exact opposite of what is typically done in these types of stories. The idea that small-town folks could see these uniquely strange outsiders and immediately pull them into their fold and allow them to change and grow isn’t what is typically depicted as “North American Small Town Life.”

“That small town life becomes the antithesis—the queering—of the traditional narrative of leaving a small town to become who you truly are. The Roses become themselves, their best version, in this town. This was an extension of the idea that the show—and the town—are both a kind of safe space and a very queer space.” – Emily Garside, You Are My Happy Ending, page 36

The town itself is only one way that Garside explores just how this show turns queer TV, and other TV for that matter, on its head. The idea that this little-known show was even able to grow its audiences on the unwavering faith of the network is another way it defied all odds.

Never before, and frankly not since, have shows been given blind faith by a network to allow the story to grow across 2-3 seasons before really getting a fan following, thus making it profitable for the network. Garside attributes that to the very unique relationship the Levys were able to find at their Canadian network, CBC before the show expanded into the wider American market.

Community, Family, Identity
You Are My Happy Ending by Emily Garside book cover
You Are My Happy Ending by Emily Garside (2024)

One of the strongest analyses Garside makes throughout her novel is the unique family this show built amongst the fans as well as the cast. Considering the entire Levy family was involved in the project, it’s not that hard to see where she gets her starting point for this cast being a family unit.

However, looking into things more deeply, Garside explains that Eugene and Dan Levy created an atmosphere on set that encouraged connection, love, and respect, which trickled all the way down the line of those involved with the show’s creation. Viewers were able to believe in the show because the vibe of it beyond the script mirrored what was being portrayed onscreen.

Garside talks about how Patrick’s serenade to David during Schitt’s Creek Season 4 Episode 6, “Open Mic,” was a collaboration between Dan Levy and Noah Reid to get the perfect cover of the song now synonymous with the show. It is little behind-the-scenes tidbits like this, which Garside explores in great detail, that make this book well worth the read.

Not only that, Garside takes the time to connect to actual fans and asks them questions about their experiences within the fandom as well as their personal connections to the show itself. This personal touch gives You Are My Happy Ending a leg up from simply combing the plethora of interview content out there from the cast and crew of this show.

Garside takes time in this novel to explore just why this show speaks so loudly to a vast array of queer and straight viewers alike, considering how much queer media there is. One thing she really touches on, again and again, is the soft, gentle way in which these stories are being told.

And the healthy, fairly painless relationship is vital representation. The relationship without the constant fear of “who is going to get killed off/written off. Straight people have never known that “please don’t kill off my favorite character” in this specific way. They’ve never had a relationship become canon and endgame so comfortably that you didn’t have to worry. Schitt’s Creek does both. It’s a mainstream show that gives knowing nods to queer viewers. It’s a queer show that includes subtle elements that queer audiences will align with and allows a straight audience. It’s a tricky balance. As a queer fan, that’s important.  – Emily Garside, You Are My Happy Ending, page 158

David and Patrick are allowed to exist in their oasis of acceptance with very little conflict. Which, for many queer viewers, is a breath of fresh air.

After years of queer tragedy, it’s just nice to have something simple and lovely to hold onto. A fact that Garside understands all too well.

The Enduring Legacy

Schitts Creek cast

Overall, Garside’s novel does a great job of explaining and exploring the complex nature that is Schitt’s Creek and its legacy. She breaks down the magic that created the show, the stories that built it, and the fans that sustain it to this day.

While it does get a bit exhaustive, reading some quotes, phrases, or factoids again and again, it makes the book more palatable and understandable to readers who might pick it up just to read specific sections. After all, this nonfiction text breaks things down from subtopic to subtopic almost perfectly.

If you are looking to just know how the show sets up a wonderful, gentle, and positive queer story in David and Patrick, those chapters are easy to find and read without having to dive into the elements of feminism, fan reactions, and the creation of the show.

It’s as if Garside knows that most fans of the show won’t necessarily read the entirety of her book and instead skip to the parts they care about most. To make this even more easier, Garside provides an index at the end with references to specific fan mentions, topics, and interviews.

All in all, this book is a wonderful read for those of us who care about Schitt’s Creek on more than a surface level. This reviewer highly suggests that if you read nothing else in this novel, the chapter on the connections between the show and Cabaret is especially enticing.

You Are My Happy Ending: Schitt’s Creek and The Legacy of Queer Television by Emily Garside is available now.

 

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Mads is a part-time entertainment journalist and full-time marketing content creator. They love reading the latest in Queer novels -- especially romance ones and watching the latest dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, Star Wars, and romcom films/TV shows. You can join the conversation by following them on Twitter: @dorothynyc89.

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