Canada’s Schitt’s Creek storms Emmys with historic comedy sweep

Schitt’s Creek, the quirky made-in-Canada show about a fish-out-of-water family, had a big night at Sunday’s Emmy Award, sweeping the comedy category with best series honours and awards for its stars, including Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy.

“Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance, and this is something we need more now than ever before,” said co-creator and star Daniel Levy.

O’Hara accepted the award virtually in the pandemic-safe ceremony.

“Though these are the strangest of days, may you have as much joy being holed up in a room or two with your family as I had with my dear Roses,” O’Hara said Sunday in her acceptance speech from a private party in Toronto, where the cast got together for their victory lap.

WATCH | Catherine O’Hara accepts best lead actress Emmy:

The actress thanked the cast and crew of Schitt’s Creek, calling them the “most beautiful, fun-loving people.” 1:53

Eugene Levy called it “ironical that the straightest role I ever played lands me an Emmy for a comedy performance. I have to seriously question what I’ve been doing for the past 50 years.”

Moments later, Levy’s son Daniel won the award for comedy writing for an episode of Schitt’s Creek, then shared a directing award and captured the supporting actor comedy trophy. The supporting actress trophy went to his co-star Annie Murphy.

Daniel Levy thanked his father and O’Hara for teaching an extended “master class” in comedy. He also won a writing award and a directing trophy he shares with Andrew Cividino for the show, which ended its sixth and final season in April.

From left: Schitt’s Creek cast members Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy are seen at an Emmys party in Toronto on Sunday. All four snagged acting trophies. (Ana Sorys)

The Levys co-created the show, which also got two Emmys earlier this week, for costuming and casting.

Eugene Levy and O’Hara played the parents on the show about a formerly wealthy family who moved to a small town the father once bought as a joke. Daniel Levy played their son, and Murphy played their daughter.

In a tweet Sunday, the show hinted at the magnitude of the win. “That means our little Canadian show is the first comedy OR drama to ever sweep all four acting categories, and that is absolutely wild.”

Schitt’s Creek, which aired on CBC and Pop TV, was up for a total of 15 Emmys this year.

Last year the Ontario-shot show had four Emmy nominations but didn’t win any.

“I will forever be grateful to Eugene and Daniel Levy for bestowing upon me the opportunity to play a woman of a certain age — my age — who gets to fully be her ridiculous self,” said O’Hara, 66.

“They gathered the most beautiful, fun-loving people in Toronto — cast and crew — and then, by example, led us all to be the best we could be for each other.”

She then slipped into the dramatic elocution and old-timey vocabulary of her character Moira as she also thanked the hair, makeup and hair team for making her character who she was.

“May I please wish you all a sound mind and sound body,” O’Hara said.

Eugene Levy accepts the outstanding lead actor in a comedy series award as his son and castmate Dan Levy looks on. (The Television Academy and ABC Entertainment/The Associated Press)

Eugene Levy also won two Emmys in the early 1980s, for writing on the sketch comedy series SCTV Network, which also starred O’Hara.

O’Hara also won an Emmy in 1982 for writing on the sketch comedy series SCTV Network, which also starred Eugene Levy.

References to coronavirus were an ongoing part of the ceremony, with essential workers — including a teacher and a UPS deliveryman — presenting awards and Jason Sudeikis ostensibly getting a COVID-19 test onstage.

In a year with a record number of Black nominees, 35, there was a notable lack of diversity in the show’s early going. With Schitt’s Creek gobbling up comedy awards, that left Insecure and creator Issa Rae empty-handed Sunday.

WATCH | Kimmell jokes about Canada’s Stanley Cup drought after Schitt’s Creek wins big:

After the Canadian series Schitt’s Creek swept the Emmy Awards comedy category, host Jimmy Kimmell reminded Canadians of the one trophy they didn’t win. 3:06

That was also true of Ramy Youssef, creator-star of the semi-autbiographical comedy Ramy, about a young Muslim American’s love and religious life. Yousef tweeted a video of a haz-mat suit-wearing person clutching an Emmy and waving goodbye after he lost the lost the comedy actor category.

An exception was Regina King, who won the lead actress trophy for a limited series, Watchmen. The Black actor was showered by confetti as she accepted in an armchair, wearing a T-shirt that honoured police shooting victim Breonna Taylor.

“This is so freaky and weird,” said King, who regained her composure and called on viewers to vote.

Annie Murphy accepts the award for outstanding supporting actress. (The Television Academy and ABC Entertainment/The Associated Press)

Mark Ruffalo, who won the limited series acting trophy for I Know This Much is True, urged people to vote in the Nov. 3 general election, saying love had to prevail.

Host Jimmy Kimmel opened the show with a monologue that appeared to be defiantly delivered in front of a packed, cheering theatre — until it was revealed they were clips from past Emmy shows.

“Of course I’m here all alone. Of course, we don’t have an audience,” he said. “This isn’t a MAGA rally. It’s the Emmys.”

With more than 100 long-distance video feeds with nominees ahead, “what could possibly go right?”

A minor gaffe marred Saturday’s virtual Emmys for technical and other honors, when Jason Bateman’s name was announced for a guest acting award that belonged to Ron Cephas Jones of This Is Us. Other guest acting honours went to Eddie Murphy and Maya Rudolph for Saturday Night Live and Cherry Jones for Succession.

Bateman was one of the few people on hand at the Staples Center for Sunday’s show, sitting in the audience during Kimmel’s opening monologue. Bateman sat stone faced amid a collection of cardboard cutouts, trading jokes with Kimmel after the host pointed out he was there.

HBO’s limited series Watchmen is the leading nominee. Succession, Ozark and The Mandalorian were vying for the drama series crown.

Euphoria star Zendaya could become the youngest winner in the drama actress category at age 24 (topping Jodie Comer, who was 26 when she won last year for Killing Eve).

Regina King accepts the award for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie for Watchmen. (The Television Academy and ABC Entertainment/Associated Press)

The producers of Sunday’s broadcast have said gaffes could occur. Kimmel is on stage at downtown LA’s Staples Center, central command for camera feeds relayed from 130 nominees socially distanced at home or elsewhere in 10 countries and 20 cities.

Morgan Freeman, Lin-Manuel Miranda, D-Nice, Patrick Stewart and Oprah Winfrey are among those taking part in the show, which also included the oddity of a live appearance by an alpaca named Isabella.

Other recent awards shows, including the BET Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards, bowed to the coronavirus with a mix of pre-taped and live segments. How the Emmys fare may influence Hollywood’s awards season.

The creative Emmys that were handed over five days, culminating Saturday, underscore the point: awards have been collected by 29 outlets representing cable channels, streaming services and broadcast networks. So far, longtime leader HBO and rising Netflix are tied with 19 awards each, followed by Disney+ and NBC with eight honours apiece.

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