When the Emmy awards nominations were announced, Pop TV comedy Schitt’s Creek had its named called four times. The nominations came in advance of the comedy’s sixth and final season, which happens in 2020.
Eugene and Daniel Levy created Schitt’s Creek.
Brad Schwartz, Pop TV president, said the gang was “over the moon, screaming-out-loud excited” when the nominations came down. He spoke with Multichannel News about the appeal of Schitt’s Creek, and which other original could break out. An edited transcript follows.
MCN: Were you surprised to get four nominations?
Brad Schwartz: I thought your question was going to be, were you surprised to get one? (Laughs.)
We certainly knew we were in the conversation. Everywhere they prognosticate these things, everyone had it in the “wouldn’t it be great if ” category. Beyond that, what we knew that I don’t think a lot of people see is the passion people have for the show, which is unlike anything on TV. When we did our Television Academy screening, there were 200 people who could not get in. When this cast did their tour, they sold out the Beacon Theatre at $150 a ticket in 48 hours. They’ve done a 30-city live tour and they sell out all their shows.
MCN: What about Schitt’s Creek appeals to people in such a way?
BS: The character development is as good, I think, as any show in history. These characters arrive in Schitt’s Creek a wealthy family who might not have really known what family is all about. Episode by episode, season by season, as they go through things and become closer, go through heartbreak and relationships and business ordeals, all those things impact who they become.
People who have gone on the ride have been able to see true growth and change in these characters.
And the show is just so joyous. We live in divisive times, in a polarized political climate. But there’s this show and this town that you can go to on a Wednesday night and just have it be happy and the way things should be.
MCN: How much of a role did Netflix play in bringing Schitt’s Creek to a wider audience?
BS: When we launched in season one, we did our best as a rebranded network, with the marketing funds we had, to tell people how fantastic this show was. In a peak TV era, when trying to get attention is hard, it’s even harder when it’s a network [people] haven’t heard of.
Being a network’s No. 1 show really benefits the show. If it were the eighth show on another network, it might not have gotten the love, support and passion the entire organization throws behind it.
Because we wanted to expose the show to as wide an audience as possible, we did a deal with Netflix. We knew we had something special and just wanted people to see it. Pop has more [U.S.] subscribers than Netflix. But the convenience of Netflix — for a show like this, Netflix really became more like a library. When people heard about the show and wanted to watch it, there were many places for them to go, be it Pop, video-on-demand, our app. There was also this platform that everybody is using called Netflix.
MCN: Why is One Day at a Time right for Pop?
BS: When we heard that One Day at a Time was going to be cancelled by Netflix, our instant reaction was, Oh my god, that is such a Pop show. It has much of the same emotional beats that made Schitt’s Creek such a hit. It can make you laugh, it can make you cry, it deals with important cultural themes, with family overcoming adversity, with acceptance and inclusion.
Although they are vastly different shows, they both felt like shows that work on Pop. We jumped at the opportunity to bring that show to Pop. We feel like that show has a lot of life left in it and it will be a huge hit.
MCN: What’s another Pop original with a chance to break out?
BS: Last year, we launched Flack with Anna Paquin. It’s a fabulous, fabulous show. [Pop ordered a season two.] We premiered Florida Girls [in July], a comedy from our former co-owners Lionsgate. That show has surprised the world. Everyone’s writing wonderful accolades about it. Much like the beginning of Schitt’s Creek, that could go on a nice season-after-season run, and just keep picking up audience.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.