‘Yay, David!’: How Schitt’s Creek is doing Queer Representation the Right Way
If you haven't seen Schitt's Creek, you're missing out on a heartfelt, weird, and wonderful experience. It is a Canadian sitcom that follows an eclectic family of 4 adults navigating their lives after losing their wealth and fortune. The show places them in a quaint town called 'Schitt's Creek', and we see the family rebuilding their lives personally and professionally.
David Rose is the only son of Moira and Johnny Rose and the older brother of Alexis Rose. The writers on the show managed to give him a character arc that was both dramatic and heartwarming. What David's character does differently for the queer representation is that his queerness does not serve to check a diversity box; it is a part of his personality, not his entire purpose in the show.
The way that the queer community is represented in mainstream media has changed and evolved, but for the most part, some things stay the same. They are portrayed the way straight people view queerness through their lens and are often subject to stereotypical tropes. What makes David Rose's portrayal stand out is how nonchalant it is. In the first season, the show addresses his ambiguous sexuality in a very clever metaphor said by Rose, "I do drink red wine, but I also drink white wine. And I have been known to sample the occasional rosé. A couple of summers back, I tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay which got a bit complicated." Throughout the series, David enters a serious relationship with his business partner, Patrick, and they get married at the show's end. Dan Levy, who both co-wrote the show and starred as David Rose, stated that this understatement was deliberate because the writers on the show wanted queer storylines to be presented the same way straight storylines are. Although coming-out stories, such as Rosa Diaz's journey on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, are incredibly important for representation and for audiences to relate, there is also a need to show the progression of queer relationships in a conventional manner. This essentially means that a same-sex couple can also get the happy ending (this is a hilarious innuendo if you have seen the show) without having to struggle for it. David Rose's relationship and consequent marriage with Patrick are treated precisely the same as his heterosexual sister Alexis' relationships are treated.
In contrast, a queer relationship highlighted on a widely acclaimed show was that of Santana Lopez and Brittany Pierce on Glee. The series showed their entire journey, from their friendship to Santana's difficult coming out (where she is outed against her consent on a political campaign and is then disowned by her grandmother), and eventually their wedding years later (on which her grandmother refuses to show up on account of it clashing with her Christian values). Theirs was also a relationship that was a significant part of a TV show's main synopsis, not unlike David's relationship in Schitt's Creek. However, it followed a more generalized trope- with the struggle and spotlight on the queerness of it.
Both representations hold a special place in the industry, and both performances were widely acclaimed, but what sets Schitt's Creek apart is the normalization done in a very subtle and tasteful manner.