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‘Schitt’s Creek’ sweeps the 2020 Emmys and makes history

By Emily Burack

(JTA) — “Schitt’s Creek,” the show co-created by the father-and-son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, swept the Emmy Awards on Sunday night.

The beloved series won every comedy category for its sixth and final season, and the younger Levy alone won four awards.

This year’s Emmys ceremony was broadcast live, but from nearly 100 streams in different locations across the country. Yet in the first hour of the show, the stream returned again and again to the “Schitt’s Creek” Emmys party in Toronto, where the Levys and the cast and crew of the show had gathered to watch together safely. (The show’s Twitter account shared that all were “adhering to Ontario’s COVID-19 guidelines” and “all in attendance have been in isolation since returning negative COVID-19 tests.”)

“Oh no,” Daniel Levy said at the start of his third acceptance speech, winning for best supporting actor. “The internet’s about to turn on me. I’m so sorry.”

Yet there was  little backlash: Much of Twitter seemed overjoyed at what it deemed the long overdue awards for the show.

As radio host Michelle Collins tweeted, the Emmys feel like “feels like Dan Levy’s Bar Mitzvah in the best way.” The first half of the night truly felt like a celebration of all things Dan Levy and “Schitt’s Creek,” and with the awards, the sitcom made history in many ways.

Let’s count them:

Most comedy awards in a single season

The Canadian sitcom won nine Emmys — seven on Emmy night, and two at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend. The nine total awards for a single season beats the previous record held by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which won eight awards at the 2018 and 2019 Emmys.

The reason for the sweep? The Hollywood Reporter hypothesized that TV Academy members, who vote on the Emmys, binge-watched the show on Netflix — along with the rest of America.

“‘Schitt’s Creek’ had never won a single Emmy for any of its prior seasons. It is widely suspected that TV Academy members, like the rest of the public, caught up with the show on Netflix, which has been airing prior seasons of the show,” the newspaper wrote. “AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ achieved major Emmy success late in its run via the same course.”

The show premiered in 2015 on CBC, a Canadian channel, and Pop TV, a little-known American channel (formerly TV Guide Network). It didn’t break through the pop culture bubble until it arrived on Netflix in 2017.

All four comedy acting awards

With wins for Eugene Levy for lead actor, Catherine O’Hara for lead actress, Dan Levy for supporting actor and Annie Murphy for supporting actress, “Schitt’s Creek” became the first show to ever sweep all four acting categories in either comedy or drama. The last time a show got close to winning all four was when “All in the Family” won three of the acting categories in 1978.

Plus, three of the four of the actors won their first Emmys — including the comedy legend O’Hara. (Eugene Levy previously won in 1982 and 1983 for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for his work on “Second City Television,” a sort of Canadian “Saturday Night Live.”)

O’Hara’s win was the first of the night.

“I will forever be grateful to Eugene and Daniel Levy for the opportunity to play a woman of a certain age — my age — who gets to fully be her ridiculous self,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Eugene Levy followed soon after, saying “It’s kind of ironical that the straightest role I’ve ever played lands me an Emmy for a comedy performance, so now I seriously have to question just what I’ve been doing for the last 50 years.”

Levy, in true Jewish dad fashion, also shouted out working with his children: “As a dad, getting to work on camera for six years with both my kids, Daniel and Sarah — hi honey! — such a joy, love you both and could not be prouder.” The interfaith Levy family — Eugene is Jewish, his wife, Deborah Devine, is not — mirrors the interfaith Rose family on the fictional “Schitt’s Creek.”

Here’s the Levy family, with Sarah Facetiming in to the event:

All seven comedy awards

“Schitt’s Creek” also won for best comedy series, comedy writing and comedy directing, making the show the first in history to pull off an entire category sweep, winning all seven major comedy prize categories.

In his acceptance speech for best comedy series, the younger Levy said: “Our show, at its core, is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance, and that is something we need more of now than we’ve ever needed before.”

Levy has spoken at length about his decision to make the world of “Schitt’s Creek” one without homophobia. As he explained to the Advocate, “I have made a very strong point to not ever show bigotry, homophobia or intolerance on our show because to me, it’s a celebration of love. At the root of it, [‘Schitt’s Creek’] is a celebration of love between the family and between the relationships that we build.”

Other Jewish moments

There were a few other Jewish wins. Namely, Jewish actress Julia Garner won best supporting actress in a drama series for the second year in a row for her performance in “Ozark.”

“Wow, first, I’m shocked, to be honest,” Garner said. “I want to show gratitude to all the women in this category. You are the reason why I’m acting in the first place, so thank you.” She was nominated alongside megastars Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Thandie Newton and more.

Jewish actress Maya Rudolph was finally recognized for her comedic work — she went from zero Emmys to two this week. Rudolph won for guest actress in a comedy for her scene-stealing impression of Sen. Kamala Harris on “Saturday Night Live,” and for best voice-over performance for Connie the Hormone Monstress in “Big Mouth,” the Netflix animated comedy about puberty.

Rudolph was actually nominated against herself in the guest actress category for her appearance as Harris and as the judge in the sitcom “The Good Place.” At a news conference, she explained that the role of the judge was modeled on Jewish Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday evening.

“I was actually thinking about ‘The Good Place‘ a lot and about how we modeled [the judge’s] robe after Ruth Bader Ginsburg and how much of that was an homage to an iconic human being,” Rudolph said. “When you think of a judge, when you think of all-knowing, when you think of powerful, when you think of all good — we modeled her robe after RBG, so that was pretty cool.”

Other Jewish wins: Maria Schrader won for directing “Unorthodox,” the hit Netflix drama based on Deborah Feldman’s memoir of the same name, about Feldman’s departure from the haredi Orthodox world. Schrader took home the only Emmy for the show, which had eight nominations.

Jewish screenwriter Damon Lindelof won outstanding writing in a limited series and best limited series with writing partner Cord Jefferson for their work on the HBO superhero show “Watchmen.”

Main Photo: The “Schitt’s Creek” cast at a pre-Emmys party, Sept. 21, 2020. From left: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy and Anne Murphy. (“Schitt’s Creek”/Instagram)

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