Prince Harry and Meghan took a stab at living in British Columbia before decamping for Los Angeles. Madonna pronounced their entire country “boring.” But Canadians will always have the 2020 Emmys.
Canada was rejoicing Monday, a day after the Canadian TV series “Schitt’s Creek” beat out heavyweight American contenders like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” at the Emmy Awards. The quirky satirical show didn’t just win. It took top honors in all seven categories in which it was nominated, even bringing back north the coveted best-comedy award.
It was the first time a Canadian show has won an Emmy for best comedy series.
Canadians have long rejoiced when their cultural products simply do well in the United States — never mind trounce celebrated rivals in their giant, superpower neighbor to the south. And it did not go unnoticed by proud Canadians that the show, a collaboration of the Canadian actor and comedian Eugene Levy and his son, Dan Levy, had won a total of nine Emmys — the most a comedy has won in a single season.
“CBC’s ‘Schitt’s Creek’ storms Emmys with historic comedy sweep,” gushed the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, noting that the “the little Canadian show about a fish-out-of-water family” had achieved a comedy awards record that “TV greats including “Frasier” and “Modern Family” failed to achieve.”
After the show was awarded best comedy, the Emmy Awards host, Jimmy Kimmel, joked: “Canada only has, like, 200 people in it. As of tonight, one out of every four living Canadians has an Emmy Award.”
“If they’d won one more Emmy, they would have been able to trade them in for this,” Mr. Kimmel added before revealing a mock Stanley Cup — an allusion to the hockey-obsessed country’s failure to win hockey’s top trophy in more than two decades.
“Schitt’s Creek” follows the lives of the once fabulously wealthy Rose family, who, after falling on hard times, must move to a cramped, decrepit hotel in a sleepy, nondescript town that the patriarch, played by the elder Mr. Levy, once bought as a joke.
It premiered in 2015 on CBC, the national broadcaster, and in the United States on Pop TV, before it was taken up on by Netflix in 2017, gaining a much larger following.
Canadians from all walks of life took to social media to revel in the show’s success — and especially its provenance. It is written by Canadians, stars Canadians and is filmed in Canada.
Goodwood, Ontario, a quiet community north of Toronto where some of the main locations in the series are shot, has even become an unlikely draw for international tourists.
“Such a proud night for our screen industry in Toronto, Ontario and Canada!” John Tory, the Toronto mayor, wrote on Twitter.
“This. This is Canada tonight. Kind, funny, talented, and wonderful,” wrote one Twitter user, Nora McLellan. She added the hashtag “#OHCANADA.”
In Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made minority rights and multiculturalism a defining policy, the show has drawn plaudits for adroitly dealing with issues of sexuality. The character of the family’s son, David, played by the younger Levy, unapologetically embraces his pan-sexuality and gains unlikely acceptance in the small town where the family is exiled.
“I like the wine but not the label,” he explains to a bemused lover trying to pin down his sexuality.
Catherine O’Hara, born in Toronto, plays the family matriarch, Moira, a washed-out former soap opera star with deadly one-liners and hyperbolic fashion tastes. She was already a respected star in Canada, but with the show’s success, she has become a beloved pop culture phenomenon in her native country and beyond.
Her aphorisms — among them “Oh, I’d kill for a good coma right now!” and “This wine is awful. Give me another glass” — have drawn fans. When in Season 2 of the show, her daughter, Alexis, reminds her that no one responded to her texts when she was once kidnapped by Somali pirates, Moira responds: “I had just had my eyelashes dyed. Everything was cloudy!”
Turning to Twitter, Kate Headley, who works in communications in Ottawa, posted a clip of Moira in one of her signature over-the-top haute couture outfits strutting down the street. “This is how Canada saves the world!” she wrote.
The satire of “Schitt’s Creek” is pungent, but never eclipses the show’s heart, and that was in evidence Sunday night. The Emmy Awards were forced to forgo the usual celebrity celebration this year, and cast members gathered at a private party in Toronto, decked out in masks.
The show, the younger Mr. Levy observed, is about “the transformational effects of love and acceptance, and this is something we need more now than ever before.”