I am a queer woman who also identifies as genderfluid, and seeing my experiences reflected back to me in the media is vital. While LGBTQ+ representation in TV and film is improving, it isn’t always positive. Gay and trans* characters are killed off more than cishet characters, bisexual representation has been sparse, and when queer characters are given screen time they’re usually just comic relief for a heterosexual audience. Schitt’s Creek has been a staple in my life as a queer person, because it’s one of the few shows that centers LGBTQ+ stories in a lighthearted and authentic way and portrays queer characters as complex and multi-layered individuals.
My favorite part of the show is the way it acknowledges the fluid nature of sexuality and gender. When I came out as pansexual to my family, I never thought I would live to see a pansexual character on a major network until I discovered Schitt’s Creek. Dan Levy’s character, David Rose, is openly pansexual and gender nonconforming, and is shown in serious relationships with both men and women throughout the show.
David’s multiple relationships are incredibly important for audiences to see, because it serves as a reminder that gender and sexuality are not tangential to each other. Stereotypes will have a majority of the public convinced that the way a person acts or behaves determines their sexuality, which is completely untrue. Just because David is effeminate and flamboyant, that doesn’t completely rule out his attraction to women – which was why it was important for audiences to see him in a relationship with Stevie. My parents have always been very accepting of my queerness, but sometimes it’s hard for them to understand that assuming a person’s sexuality based on the way they act is never ideal. Dan Levy’s excellent portrayal of David has not only validated my own identity, but has also helped my older relatives who watch the show understand the importance of recognizing sexual fluidity, which I have struggled to explain to them in the past.
Another part of the show that I appreciate is how it doesn’t sensationalize or equate being LGBTQ+ with pain or tragedy. A prime example to look at is the episode where David’s partner Patrick comes out as queer to his parents. When David’s father accidentally outs Patrick to his parents, David makes sure that Patrick isn’t made aware of it so that he still has the chance to come out to his parents on his own terms. I’m lucky enough to have parents who accept me wholeheartedly and love me unconditionally, but coming out to them was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So I really appreciated the way the writers handled the issue incredibly sensitively because it is something that every individual navigates differently.
Representation is important because it provides a mirror for young kids who are coming to terms with their gender identity and sexual orientation. Seeing billboards all over the country of two men kissing probably wouldn’t be a possibility ten years ago, and the fact that Schitt’s Creek has queer writers making these decisions to portray queer characters in a very authentic light, and to have their network support these actions, is why the show matters.