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Dan Levy Reveals When He Knew Schitt's Creek Stuck the Landing

Plus, the actor and showrunner breaks down Catherine O'Hara's 'brilliant' costume idea

Kelly Connolly

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the series finale of Schitt's Creek, "Happy Ending." Read at your own risk!]

Schitt's Creek signed off on Tuesday night with a sincere, simple goodbye to the Rose family that underscored how much the show loved its characters. The Pop TV sitcom's series finale took place on David (Dan Levy) and Patrick's (Noah Reid) wedding day, as a heavy rainstorm derailed their plans for an outdoor ceremony. David panicked -- at least until Patrick arranged for a massage that gave David more than he bargained for -- but even a Town Hall wedding didn't feel like settling as long as he was marrying Patrick. He even forgave Alexis (Annie Murphy) for wearing a wedding dress to walk him down the aisle.

As for the rest of the Roses, the final episode ended with Johnny (Eugene Levy) and Moira (Catherine O'Hara) saying goodbye to their kids -- along with Patrick and Stevie (Emily Hampshire) -- and setting off for California. On their way out of town, Johnny asked their driver to stop so he could take one final look back at the old welcome sign, which Roland (Chris Elliott) had repainted to show the Roses in a compromising position. It was Schitt's Creek's last sight gag.

The beloved Canadian sitcom is signing off in uncertain times, but showrunner and star Dan Levy, who also wrote and co-directed the series finale, is grateful that for at least a few episodes, the show was able to offer audiences some release. "As hard as this time is, to be able to offer a show that is rooted in kindness and empathy -- it feels, in a way, good that the show is still on the air," Levy told TV Guide. "Even though we are signing off now, but even to have gotten a few episodes in the midst of this, I feel like that hopefully offset some of the weight of all of this for people. And you can always rewatch it."

Before we start on that rewatch, TV Guide got Levy's thoughts on crafting the series finale, from Moira's extravagant papal costume to Patrick's pitch-perfect vows.

Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, ​Dan Levy, Noah Reid, Emily Hampshire, Annie Murphy, Schitt's Creek

Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Dan Levy, Noah Reid, Emily Hampshire, Annie Murphy, Schitt's Creek

Pop TV

How close was this to your earliest idea of how Schitt's Creek would end?
Dan Levy:
I think it surpassed any and all expectations, to be honest. I basically had a sense of the tone that I wanted to set and the feel that I wanted to establish, but it's hard to actually envision how it would all go down without the incredible work of all of our different departments. I think what moves me the most about this last episode is that it really does act as a showcase for all of our different departments who have done such extraordinary work over the past six years. Our costumes have never been better and bolder and brighter, and the hair and makeup teams really went above and beyond, and the production design team, putting that whole wedding venue together, just completely surpassed my expectations. So for me, when I look at it, I see not only an episode that I'm really proud of, that I think is one of our all-time best -- which is a rare thing to get with your series finale -- but I also see a celebration of the cast and the crew who have worked so tirelessly on the show over the past six years, some of whom have been with us from the very beginning.

Schitt's Creek Went Out Sincerely and Simply

And in terms of where the characters end up, how close was this to where you thought that they would be when you started crafting the show?
Pretty close. I think the only major difference was Alexis, and I think that was a decision that was made during Season 4. Originally, I thought that Alexis and Ted (Dustin Milligan) were going to get married. And then the more that that story played itself out, the more that that story felt like it was about personal growth for both of them, and not necessarily a wedding. For Ted, who just got offered this opportunity in the Galapagos to expand his outlook and open his eyes to a world of animal care that far surpassed his own expectations, and then for Alexis to have this PR opportunity that seems to be taking off, it really felt like it behooved them both to have played a large part in each other's growth. And that a wedding would almost not be what I'd want for them. I want them to live bigger and bolder than they ever had. And in order to do that, it felt like they had to take that next step on their own... I actually feel like the Alexis-Ted breakup was one of the more special moments in our entire series because I haven't seen a breakup that really celebrated a relationship in the way that scene did and gave people closure at the same time.

I say this because I love Ted so much: Do you ever imagine the two of them finding each other down the line?
Maybe. You never know what could happen. I think for the time being they're really pursuing professional avenues that are inspiring to them, and in order to have done that they had to have been in the right headspace. Not to sound corny, but they had to have been filled with love and the kind of confidence that only came from their relationship... It was a very special relationship to write. And if and when I get around to thinking about what could potentially come next for these people, it's definitely something to consider. But who knows?

While we're on the subject of Alexis, she instigates saying "I love you" to everyone in the family in this episode. Why was that so important as part of Alexis' story in particular?
I think so much of that last episode was bookending the Alexis we saw in the very first episode. And of all the people in the family, Alexis was the one that was going to abandon her family in the town -- she was going to leave, and leave them all there. So it was important for us to show that full-circle moment from a young woman who was ready to completely abandon her family to the one person who can't stop saying, "I love you." It felt like a really nice nod to how far she's come as a character.

And tell me about writing David and Patrick's vows
It was really hard. I think vows are really hard to write; I think vows on TV are even harder to write because everyone's seen them done really beautifully so many times before. So I took a couple drafts, but at the end of the day, I just sort of sat at my desk and let the words come to me. I thought for a long time about their relationship and what that relationship meant to one another. And the more I thought about it, the more clearly the words came. And then obviously, Patrick's vows being Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" felt like the perfect callback. I think Noah was able to play that so naturally and sweetly, and I hope that it will come as a really nice and pleasant surprise for the audience.

Dan Levy, ​Catherine O'Hara, Noah Reid, Schitt's Creek

Dan Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Noah Reid, Schitt's Creek

Pop TV

Obviously we have to talk about Moira's wedding costume. How did that come together?
It was a daunting task because we knew that her last look had to be the most iconic of the entire series. And that was a tough pressure to put on ourselves, but I certainly feel like we rose to the occasion. I had, along with our costume designer Debra Hanson, sourced like six or seven gowns for Moira, and we tried a bunch on, and the McQueen that she wears in the episode just instantly we knew was going to be it. As soon as Catherine heard that she was going to officiate the wedding, she came up with the idea of potentially going down the avenue of like, "I did a nod to the pope." And that was such a great idea and such a great direction for us to start building that look... Catherine wanted the pope's hat, and then she also had this idea to make part of the hat out of hair. Which is an idea that can only come from Catherine O'Hara. That is the brilliance of her mind.

I in the middle of the night had this idea that Moira have this incredibly long Botticelli-esque blonde wig. And I texted [hair stylist] Ana [Sorys] I think in the middle of the night. It was, like, very late at night, saying, "Get a very, very, very long blonde wig, and let's do these Botticelli curls and see if that works." And she wrote back and was like, "I think this is gonna work. I think this is gonna be special." ... What I love about that look as well is that as hugely outrageous as it is, it's also very respectful of the event. Sometimes Moira likes to dress in ways that are quite eye-catching and can sometimes pull focus from other people. And what I love about this look is that as huge as it was, it never pulled the focus away from David and Patrick. It was Moira expressing herself in a way that is very true to her but also very respectful to her son and his husband.

Schitt's Creek Is the Best Show on TV Right Now

It's funny to say this about an episode with that costume, but there is something understated about this episode, and the end of it in particular, that I think made it even more powerful. Can you talk about the ending and what you wanted to accomplish there?
Yeah, we had a couple endings, to be honest. And it wasn't until [co-director] Andrew Cividino and I got into the edit suite that we played around with what was going to be the most effective and what really felt the truest to the show. There's been a purity to the storytelling and such a vulnerability to these characters that has unfolded over the past six years. I definitely knew that we were going to frontload some of the emotional content in the first part of this two-part finale. The idea was, let's tell the sentimental stories first and leave the celebration for the end so that we're not leaving our audience with something that's too heavy-handed. It should feel like a really great episode of Schitt's Creek, and I feel like that's what it is. And then right at the end, to just have it be a family, the family, and to show how this family has expanded to include Stevie and Patrick, felt like a really special, simple way of showing that growth. To just say goodbye was far more powerful than anything else we could have done. And then for the reveal right at the end to be a joke felt like the perfect way to end the show, because obviously we would never want to leave people too waterlogged. It was always important that we undercut that sentimentality with something funny.

I also love in the background of that ending when we see Moira taking one last look into the room. Were there any small things about the finale that stood out to you?
Just getting to have our whole cast back together. Shooting that wedding was the very last thing we shot on our sound stages, so we had our whole cast back together, everyone was dressed up, there was a sense of occasion... There was an air of something special, like something worked. And from a writing standpoint, when you get that kind of energy and that kind of electricity in the air while you're shooting something, it was just a reminder that I think we did something right. Like, I think we're ending the show on the right note because this scene has such power to it. And it feels so special and it feels like it services all of our characters in such subtle and special and meaningful ways. For me, filming that scene was when I knew that I think we stuck our landing.

Annie Murphy, ​Dan Levy, Schitt's Creek

Annie Murphy, Dan Levy, Schitt's Creek

Pop TV