Emmys 2020: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Completes Historic Awards Sweep; Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy Win First Acting Honours
Canadian TV series 'Schitt's Creek' made history at the 2020 Emmys on Sunday, sweeping the comedy category and landing its stars — including Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy (above) — their first ever acting Emmys. Photo: Chris Chapman
It’s the phrase that trended across social media on Sunday night: “Holy Schitt!”
That’s because Canadian comedy Schitt’s Creek made history at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards by becoming the first comedy to ever sweep every major award category — going seven for seven including the top acting categories for the show’s stars Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy. The only other show to ever sweep every major Emmy category is the HBO miniseries Angels in America, which accomplished the feat in 2004.
Schitt’s Creek is also the first Canadian show ever to win the Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series. The series finished with a total haul of nine Emmys this year.
The Schitt’s Creek domination kicked off the Emmys — a virtual awards show that featured nominees in all categories joining the broadcast via video links. At various points, host Jimmy Kimmel noted, “They’re going crazy in Canada. There’s chaos on the streets of Saskatoon,” and “We’re witnessing a Schitt’s-krieg.”
The cast and crew of the show gathered — socially distanced, of course — at Toronto’s Casa Loma to watch the Emmys together. Catherine O’Hara, 66, became the first winner of the night, landing the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for playing Schitt’s Creek family matriarch Moira Rose. The award is her first ever acting Emmy (she’d previously won an Emmy in 1982 for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Show for SCTV Network 90) and Gold Derby senior editor Joyce Eng noted on Twitter that, “At 66, O’Hara is the second oldest comedy actress champ after Ruth Gordon (82).”
In accepting the award, O’Hara thanked members of the cast and crew and the Television Academy, adding, “I will forever be grateful to Eugene and Daniel Levy for the opportunity to play a woman of a certain age — my age — who gets to fully be herself.” She also noted that, “Though these are the strangest of days, may you have as much joy being holed up in a room or two with your family as I had with my dear Roses.”
Eugene Levy, 73, took the next award, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, quipping, “You see, I told you I was good.”
Levy also joked that, “I guess it’s kind of ironic that the straightest role I’ve ever played lands me an Emmy for a comedy performance. So I now seriously need to question just what I’ve been doing for the past 50 years.”
The Emmy marks Levy’s third overall and first for acting, with him winning awards in 1982 and 1983 for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for SCTV. Levy thanked his wife, the show’s cast and crew and specifically pointed to his son, Dan Levy, with whom he co-created Schitt’s Creek and “who took our show that we came up with and brilliantly guided it to this little Emmy party tonight. So thank you, son.”
Moments later, Dan Levy picked up back-to-back-to-back awards for Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series (which he shared with Andrew Cividino) and Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series.
Levy called Schitt’s Creek “the greatest, most cathartic experience of my life” and noted that, “To play David Rose, this is the greatest experience of my life.” After winning his third Emmy in a row, Levy joked that, “The internet’s about to turn on me. I’m so sorry,” prompting fellow Canuck Sandra Oh to tweet, “Dan Levy – a true Canadian, just apologized for winning!! Lol!!”
Annie Murphy won next, taking home the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and saying in her acceptance speech that, “The six years I spent working on this show are the best six years of my life.” She also quipped that, “I can’t believe Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy are my friends.”
And then came the crowning achievement — Outstanding Comedy series.
“Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance,” Daniel Levy said in accepting the award, “and this is something we need more now than ever before.”
Kimmel then congratulated Schitt’s Creek, though he quipped that their seven awards fell just short of the eight required for Canada to cash in the Emmys for a Stanley Cup.
While Schitt’s Creek dominated the evening, the 2020 Emmys — which Kimmel dubbed the Pandemmys — was a mixed bag of so-so gags that suffered from a lack of audience reaction and authentic moments with stars celebrating wins at home with loved ones.
“What’s happening tonight is not important,” Kimmel said off the top, discussing how difficult 2020 continues to be. “But it’s fun. And we need fun.”
The 2020 Emmys were, of course, the first major American film or television awards to take place during the pandemic, prompting Kimmel to poke fun at the idea that all the evening’s nominees had to appear via video call.
“This is the show that will finally answer the question: does Alan Arkin know how to use a webcam?” he joked.
David Letterman, 73, made a pre-taped appearance to present the award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series, delivering jokes from his 1986 Emmy hosting gig and giving a shout out to his good friend Regis Philbin, who died in July, quipping that he checked and ensured that he’s in the “In Memoriam” montage.
And comedy legend Bob Newhart appeared in a montage of celebrities discussing what they’ve been up to while in pandemic lockdown, quipping, “I gave up skydiving and quit my class in alligator wrestling, but that’s pretty much it.”
And a mini Friends reunion took place when Jennifer Aniston, 51, Courteney Cox, 56, and Lisa Kudrow, 57, appeared together from Aniston’s home. “Of course I’m here! We live together!” Cox said when Kimmel acted surprised to see her. “Um, yeah,” Aniston added, “we’ve been roommates since 1994, Jimmy.”
When it comes to award winners in the 45-plus age demo, Regina King, 49, won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for The Watchmen. Wearing a shirt with the name “Breonna Taylor” written across the front, King used her acceptance speech to encourage Americans to vote and ended with, “Rest in power RBG,” a reference to the passing of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday at age 87.
Mark Ruffalo, 52, won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for This Much Is True, and also touched on the upcoming election, noting, “We are stronger together when we love each other and respect each other’s diversity.”
He also asked, ”Are we going to be a country of hate and division and a country only for certain people? Or are we going to be one of love and strength and fighting for all of us to have the American dream.”
RuPaul, meanwhile, won for Outstanding Reality Competition for RuPaul’s Drag Race, with the 59-year-old using his speech to deliver, “a special note to the viewer — kiddo, I know how you feel right know. Just know that you are loved. Don’t give up on love.”
And Billy Crudup, 52, won his first ever Emmy — the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series for The Morning Show.
Tyler Perry, meanwhile, received the Television Academy’s Governor’s Award — the first time a single person has received the honour since 2014.
Presented by Chris Rock and Oprah Winfrey, the latter of whom called the 51-year-old, “a man of deep faith, a visionary led by an unwavering passion…He dreamed the impossible dream,” the award “recognizes Perry’s unparalleled contributions to shaping television and his sustained commitment to humanitarian efforts.”
In a moving acceptance speech, Perry touched on his own family history and a quilt his grandmother gave him when he was young, which he had no use for. He later learned that it was a quilt in which each patch represented an important part of his grandmother’s life and noted that, “I dismissed her work and her story because it didn’t look like what I thought it should … We are all sewing our own quilts with our thoughts and our behaviours and our experiences and our memories.”
He added that, “In my mother’s quilt, she couldn’t imagine me owning land that was once a Confederate Army base where Confederate soldiers planned about how to keep Blacks enslaved,” referring to the 330 acre lot in Atlanta that he bought to build his Tyler Perry Studios. “And now Black people, white people, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, ex-cons, Latin, Asian, all of us working, coming together to add patches to a quilt that is as diverse as it can be. Diversity at its best.”
More Emmy History Made
Meanwhile, more Emmy history was made at the Creative Arts Emmys held on Sept. 12 — the weekend before the Primetime Emmys.
Legendary television producer Norman Lear, 98, broke his own record as the oldest Emmy winner when he took home the award for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for executive producing Live In Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family And Good Times.
“Norman, you are a miracle,” Kimmel said during Sunday’s broadcast. “The only thing I’ll be producing when I’m 98 is phlegm.”
And at the same Creative Arts Emmys, actor Ron Cephas Jones, 63, and his daughter, Jasmine, 31, became the first father-daughter pairing to win an Emmy in the same year. The elder actor won for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for This Is Us while his daughter won for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for #FreeRayshawn.