The Rose Family Remain Hilariously Dysfunctional in ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Season 5

Schitt’s Creek” season five has begun and it is as funny and quirky as ever. There’s something about family dysfunction that makes for excellent sitcoms, maybe because all of our human foibles can be cluttered into the nucleus. The once-pampered Rose family is still dealing with trying to find ways to make social comebacks, but everything can be thrown off by something as simple as the discovery of a cache of love letters.

We’re back with Moira (Catherine O’Hara) as she finds herself cast in what could be her comeback vehicle, “The Crows Have Eyes 3.” Of course it requires her to put on disastrous makeup and stand behind a giant nest, giving a witch-sounding speech about redemption, or something. She’s shooting in Bosnia, which means having to be away from Johnny (Eugene Levy), who starts acting angsty. This is the longest they’ve been apart in 40 years of marriage. It’s almost not even worth it since Moira suspects the director is conscious the movie is total trash. Meanwhile Alexis (Annie Murphy) and Ted (Dustin Milligan) have an interesting discussion about keeping objects from past relationships, in Ted’s case he has a watch his ex gave him. This begs the question of what Alexis has kept, and it isn’t much. But before that she suckers David (Dan Levy) into going on a ropes course with his boyfriend Patrick (Noah Reid) to spice things up, which only triggers David’s fear of heights. This is nothing compared to when Moira finally returns home and is shocked to find what appear to be love letters to Johnny from some secret affair. While that storm brews David and Stevie (Emily Hampshire) find themselves facing the quirkiest robbery ever.

“Schitt’s Creek” succeeds on the charm and likeability of its characters. There’s something endearing about the Roses and the way they tease and torture each other. The storylines are simple and cheerful. Alexis tortures David by boasting that her and Ted scored an “electric storm” in a magazine’s “How Electric Is Your Relationship” quiz, which prompts David to go along with Patrick to the ropes course. The later storyline involving Alexis and Ted’s opening up about keeping gifts from ex’s is a hilariously riff on modern-day, semi-hipster relationships. But the first two episodes of the season really belong to Moira, who has played by Catherine O’Hara is a bottom of the barrel diva, making demands on the director, attempting to be grandiose even when it’s obvious she is starring in something below even B-movie. She calls Johnny and exclaims that when it comes to the director, she refuses “to be the goddess on his prow.” She takes it upon herself to do rewrites on the script, throwing in blasts of eloquence like, “the crows don’t just have eyes, we also have wings!”

And what about those love letters Moira discovers when she returns home? It’s all a hilarious set-up for a climax both low key and sweet, in that Rose family sort of way. It turns out those letters, describing sweaty trysts (to Alexis’s dismay), were written by…Moira herself. “Schitt’s Creek” works in just this way, by being genuinely funny for its own sake. Take the key scene from the second episode of the new season, as David and Stevie are suddenly confronted by a robber at the family store. The cash register just happens to be empty, so they try to make the guy happy by simply packing a bunch of wine for the disappointed, masked felon. They throw in some good cheeses as well. By the end the robber walks out with an almost kind demeanor. Of course later it turns out he probably wasn’t even armed. But such is the luck of David and Stevie, best friends trapped in their own, hilarious absurdities.

“Schitt’s Creek” season five proves with its first episodes that it has what it takes to remain enduring. Its characters are a wondrous train wreck to behold, ever so entertaining because they are have nots who used to have it all. Their follies are human enough to be relatable, and goofy enough to make them almost inspiring.

Schitt’s Creek” season five premieres Jan. 16 and airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Pop.