There was a show everyone else loved this year that you couldn’t get on with?
King Tiger. I could not do it. Something about that seemed too exploitative to me. I never felt good when I was watching it. Maybe that’s the main thing. There was a whole month everyone was watching it, when I desperately tried to stay in the conversation. But I just couldn’t invest. And I don’t know, there is something disgusting about what was happening there. But this is the opinion of one man in a sea of other people.
On the contrary, were there any programs that you enjoyed during the confinement that you did not expect?
The real housewives of Atlanta. I feel like the characters on that show are so strong and stubborn and they have a sense of humor and self-awareness. It is an incredible alchemy. It is a great social group that they have created to film. I was surprised to enjoy it, because I worked on reality shows for a long time. I hosted The Hills aftershow before my career began. And I think when you work on reality shows, the curtain opens in a way that doesn’t necessarily make you want to see more. So this was the first reality show that I watched for a long time.
Who has been your television villain of the year?
Marianne’s brother in Normal People. I had such a physical reaction to him. When he finally got punched, I was on my feet screaming. The actor did a wonderful job, because I suppose he is not like that in person. But that character was absolutely infuriating, and certainly someone he was willing to punch in the face.
Is there a show that you expect to return in 2021?
I’m obviously waiting for Atlanta to come back, but I’d probably say Unsafe. I loved that show. I just robbed everything. And I keep what I said about it in my emmy speech, that Issa Rae should have been included in that category [for comedy writing]. She and her team continue to do an incredible job.
Were you surprised by the reaction to Schitt’s Creek this year?
The whole situation was surreal. For the Emmy [where Levy became the first person ever to win an award for writing, directing, acting and producing in the same year]We were in a tent in Toronto. It really felt like some kind of surreal dream. You’re looking at a screen in a store and suddenly you’re winning, and then you’re talking to a camera in a store. You don’t see an audience, there’s absolutely no sense that it’s an awards ceremony. By the end, I was talking to Catherine O’Hara, and she said, “I feel like someone is going to come out of the bushes and say this is an episode of Punk’d.” It really felt like one of those setups, like “let’s put them all in one store and do a bunch of Emmys.”
How was life with the show and since then?
It was very important to me to stay on course for Schitt’s Creek. I think a lot of showrunners jump ship after a few years to start something new. But Schitt’s Creek was my first job, and I needed to stay, watch the show from start to finish so I could tell people, “This is what I can do.” As a result, I spent six years writing ideas in a journal and writing things that I wanted to explore when the program ended. And now I can look back at those diaries and say, well, well, what is the most important thing? What speaks to me in a fun way, but also culturally relevant?
When you work on a show that touches people the way I think Schitt’s Creek has, and the LGBTQIA + community in particular, it gave me this wonderful gift of being able to read people’s letters. People who have been changed by the program. People who have come out of the closet because they were watching the show, changing family dynamics, changing conversations in people’s homes, changing parent-child relationships, all for a change that the show somehow brought about in people.
When you understand that television is a really important medium to change those conversations, it becomes necessary to tell stories that mean something. And that doesn’t mean they have to have a heavy-handed message, but just find stories that continue to normalize experiences that might not be part of the mainstream. So, I have some pots on the stove, so to speak. And I hope I have some more specific answers for you next time we talk, but it’s been an amazing year.
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