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Warning: this blog post might contain spoilers – so, readers, please consider yourself alerted although I’ll try my best to limit the surprises.

by Andrew Walker

We’ve all needed some respite over the last few months in comms-land.

Early on in lockdown, I tuned into a show on Netflix called Schitt’s Creek. I’d heard virtually nothing about it, but starring Eugene Levy, the production quality seemed to elevate it beyond other options which I’ve started and watched for ten minutes before switching off.

What followed was a six-season binge watch almost rivaling my entire Game of Thrones three months catch-up so I could watch the finale in real-time (having missed the boat first time round. Not saying I’m a telly addict but…)

What evolved was an absolutely outstanding character-led comedy laced with perfectly-balanced social commentary around love, family, happiness and never giving up.

It was a perfect switch off from day after day of Teams calls, skyping, signing off comms, communication grids, social media posts, media releases and comms planning.

With our lockdown social interaction with colleagues coming at the start of video conference meetings, it soon became apparent that several members of the team were also watching the show. So our five- or ten-minute prelude to the business at hand latterly involved catching up on the show’s plot and characters.

It’s a welcome ice-breaker to the meeting cycle. Chatting with colleagues about the outlandishly flamboyant Moira Rose, the former daytime TV soap actress matriarch of the Rose clan, her husband Johnny, the business supremo who’s luck it seems has run out (the reason the family end up in the town of Schitt’s Creek which Johnny as it turns out owns and is because it’s all he has left to his name) – and children Alexis (can’t say her name without saying it like Moira Rose says it – if you’ve seen it, you’ll know) and David.

And while at first glance it might appear like a high gloss made-for-streaming show with little relevance to real life – you couldn’t be more wrong.

Alexis – beautiful but spoiled rich kid with her head in the clouds – starts out on her own personal development plan, returns to school and graduates to college eventually gaining a PR and marketing diploma. She eschews a return to the bright lights in the big city for the middle-American backroads town she and her family find themselves bolt-holing in at the local motel.

David’s slightly chaotic car-crash of a past personal life takes a positive turn when he meets Patrick. Their relationship blooms and become a plot anchor point. Fans of the show have adopted both David and Patrick’s partnership (as well as Moira’s iconic dress sense and approach to life generally) as beacons for diversity, inclusion and compassion especially in the LGBTQ community. For my own role as an LGBT ally in Scottish Water’s Belong network this has particular resonance.

And for the marketeers amongst us, there’s the building (re-building) of brand Rose, tainted from the disaster that led the family to Schitt’s Creek itself. From the local store which becomes the Rose Apothecary to the roadside inn which evolves into the Rosebud Motel there’s plenty to keep viewers glued. Moira’s return to the silver screen is also laced with PR gold – and a salutary lesson for anyone who’s ever had to turn their hand to live social media.

Even the sense of identity of the town of Schitt’s Creek itself transforms throughout the show. From a place which was a one-horse last-gasp refuge for a well-to-do family on its uppers, to a place that can genuinely be thought of as home, the town finally works its way into everyone’s affections. As for the town’s welcome entrance sign – who let that out the door?

It’s been a joy to watch. A pure joy. It’s been great knowing my colleagues were doing the same as me and de-pressurising by watching it – and sharing the many Schitt’s Creek-inspired gifs in the aftermath.

Andrew Walker is head of communications at Scottish Water. You can say hello to him on Twitter at @AJWalker73

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