Exploring the character of Johnny Rose in ‘Schitt’s Creek’
(Credit: Netflix)

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Exploring the character of Johnny Rose in ‘Schitt’s Creek’

“Oh, I know I don’t have any money, but I need to look like I don’t have money.” — Johnny Rose.

Together, Eugene Levy and his son Dan Levy created the popular Canadian family sitcom Schitt’s Creek. Since its inception, the series has accrued a gargantuan following of loyal fans. In a classic riches to rags story, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of the affluent Rose family after they are victims of massive fraud and go bankrupt, the premise of the show is hilarious, heartwarming and captivating.

The family are stripped of their wealth and comfortable lifestyle and are forced to relocate to a quaint town named Schitt’s Creek which was their only asset. The family had bought the ramshackle town as a joke during a lavish cocktail party. With nowhere else to turn, they head to Schitt’s Creek.

They move into a shabby motel and are forced to spend time together which leads to the hilarious unfolding of events. They are also at loggerheads with the more orthodox small-towners, including the Mayor, his wife and the motel manager, Stevie; later, however, through a series of misadventures, they grow fond of each other and the town becomes their home. 

The Rose family comprises the poised patriarch Johnny Rose, the loquacious matriarch and ex-actress Moira Rose, their spoilt and pampered daughter Alexis and a witty son named David whose pansexuality and heartfelt performance becomes a highlight of the show. While Dan Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy have all been appreciated globally for their endearing presence in this Emmy-winning show, Eugene Levy, as Johnny Rose, too, deserves to be showered with love and affection. 

When Eugene and Dan Levy created Johnny’s character, they seemingly drew inspiration from the affluence and opulence of well-known wealthy American families from The Real Housewives and Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

While Johnny is stripped of his wealth and reduced to nothingness, wherein he has to seek shelter in a town he purchased as a joke, his character trajectory from being an entitled and arrogant snob to a more understanding person and a better father is beautiful and cathartic. Johnny’s subdued and graceful character is a perfect foil to his wife’s over-the-top, loud and boisterous character, wonderfully depicted by O’Hara. Eugene Levy seemingly derived immense inspiration from his own personality in building the character. 

Johnny’s presence in the show is the most well-rounded and grounding. He exists as an anchor and somehow binds the other members of his family to reality. Johnny gradually grows to be more appreciative of the people around him, especially Stevie. An idiosyncratic dad figure, he is adorable and charming in a variety of ways, and especially supportive of his children, which is a welcome change from the usual depiction of cold or absent fathers in sitcoms like these.

From supporting Alexis’ business to being genuinely happy at the prospect of David and Patrick’s union, he is pure at heart and the kind of father figure every sitcom probably needs. Johnny also has a wonderful never-give-up attitude and is prone to trying new things, including his milk business, which is perhaps pretty inspiring for his children. 

While the ending is bittersweet for the characters to get to their desired places, we wish Johnny had a little more space for character development. While the other characters had a very meaty and fleshed out storyline, Johnny’s seemed to be like an umbrella, sheltering them from various adversities in their path.

Clad in crisp suits, looking more dashing than ever, the regular resident of rosebud Motel, Johnny Rose is undoubtedly one of Eugene Levy’s finest creations whose wisdom, kind words and uproarious antics live rent-free in our heads days after we finish watching the sitcom. 

“My family and I have been staying in a motel for the past three years. And I wouldn’t trade our stay there for anything.”