Pride Month Spotlight: David Rose
Welcome to the 28th article in our 2019 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
David Rose is an eccentric, lovable character brilliantly portrayed by multi-talented Dan Levy in Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek. The comedy features Dan’s comedic legend father, Eugene Levy, and the incomparable Catherine O’Hara as Johnny and Moira Rose, the patriarch and matriarch of the Rose family; Annie Murphy as their daughter Alexis; and Dan Levy as their son David. Dan’s sister Sarah Levy also stars as the adorable and quirky town waitress, Twyla.
Schitt’s Creek tells the story of a prominent, wealthy Rose family finding themselves suddenly broke due to some nefarious activity by their business manager. Their “saving grace” comes in the form of a small town the government found worthless that Johnny had purchased as a joke for his son years prior, aptly named “Schitt’s Creek.” They move into a shabby roadside motel run by the delightfully cynical and deadpan Stevie (Emily Hampshire) and attempt to get back on their feet.
The irony of the show is that Schitt’s Creek is exactly the sort of town you’d almost expect people to be — dare I say — closed-minded and gossip-heavy. While Schitt’s Creek is definitely a small town with regard for their practically non-existent grapevine, homophobia is nowhere to be found. Dan has spoken openly several times about how at the time of Schitt’s Creek‘s creation, one of his main goals was to create a world where homophobia or intolerance of any kind do not exist.
“I have no patience for homophobia,” he explained. “As a result, it’s been amazing to take that into the show. We show love and tolerance. If you put something like that out of the equation, you’re saying that doesn’t exist and shouldn’t exist.” -Dan Levy, Vulture, 2018
As a result, the show is hilarious and smart without being offensive or crude. No one bats an eye at David’s sexuality, and there aren’t jokes at the expense of LGBTQ+ people or people of color. The show is all about its brilliant use of comedic timing, metaphors, and puns, with a perfectly-timed curse word thrown in here and there, and plenty of Alexis’ infamous “Ew, David!”s.
Upon the show’s initial release, both Dan and Eugene, who created the show together, received several letters from fans explaining to them how important the show has been for helping them see their ingrained bigoted beliefs and opting instead for inclusiveness and understanding of people who live and love differently than they do.
“The letters we’ve been receiving are from people who realized their beliefs were biased or homophobic or bigoted, and we created a space where love and acceptance is paramount,” he said. “We’ve watched the growth and comfort of people who outwardly live their lives and aren’t being feared of being targeted. And it has a ripple effect into people’s homes.” -Dan Levy, Vulture, 2018
This all ties directly into the character of David Rose himself. While the show and character creator Dan Levy is a gay man, David is textually stated to be pansexual. It’s a scene between Johnny and Schitt’s Creek mayor Roland Schitt (Chris Elliot), where David’s pansexuality is actually stated by his father, where he confides in Roland (who is absolutely certain that pansexuality is a cookware fetish) that, perhaps if David had picked one gender, things would be less complicated for him. Roland responds simply but poignantly:
“Well…you know, Johnny, when it comes to matters of the heart, we can’t tell our kids who to love.” -Roland Schitt, Schitt’s Creek, S1E10
In the same episode, David explains his sexuality to Stevie through a wickedly intelligent metaphor, pinpointing the exact moment I fell in love with the show.
Stevie: So, just to be clear… I’m a red wine drinker.
David: That’s fine.
Stevie: Okay, cool. I only drink red wine. And up until last night, I was under the impression that you, too, only drank red wine. But I guess I was wrong?
David: I see where you’re going with this. Um, I do drink red wine. But I also drink white wine. And I’ve been known to sample the occasional rose. And a couple summers back I tried a merlot that used to be a chardonnay, which got a bit complicated…
Stevie: Oh, so you’re just really open to all wines.
David: I like the wine and not the label. Does that make sense?
Stevie: Yes, it does.
What I love about Schitt’s Creek is that while David’s sexuality is normalized and even celebrated, it’s not the basis of the show itself. His sexuality is an important part of who he is, but ultimately only a facet of his personality. Over the course of the show’s five seasons (with the show set to end after season six), viewers have seen David’s “rich” persona fade away to reveal a sensitive, funny, kind-hearted individual with trust issues. Past relationships with both men and women were a factor in said issues, concluded from the context over the seasons mentioning various bad dates and relationships — including a birthday clown who “painted his face in the night and was never seen from again.”
A short pot-induced fling with Stevie early in their relationship very quickly dissolved into a much-preferred friendship, but it isn’t until season three and the introduction of Patrick (Noah Reid) that we see David in his first real relationship on screen.
I will never be over the way Patrick looks at David the first time they ever met.
Viewers have been given the absolute pleasure of watching these two enter into a healthy, happy, and fun relationship over the course of the last few seasons. The introduction of his character presents positive growth for David’s character, both within the relationship and on his own. He becomes more open, confident, and trusting, and as a result he evolves from feeling uncertainty and complacency to genuine happiness and pride in both his personal and professional lives.
From their first date…
to “Open Mic Night”…
to David’s own sweet serenade (and milestone in his character growth).
David and Patrick, and Schitt’s Creek as a whole, have made a real difference in the way LGBTQ+ relationships are seen and understood. While media has the tendency to portray LGBTQ+ characters using stereotypes and exaggerated behaviors, Schitt’s Creek normalized LGBTQ+ characters and relationships. David’s story does not start and end with his relationship with Patrick, but viewers do see his true personality enhance as he becomes more comfortable with who he is as a person outside of his sexuality. He becomes independent, self-sufficient, entrepreneurial, helpful, and trusting. And ultimately, we finally see David feel and accept love he never believed he deserved — from Patrick, his family, and their small town.
If you have yet to watch Schitt’s Creek, I highly recommend it for a light-hearted comedy highlighting intense personal relationships, even in times of hardship. Schitt’s Creek is currently filming its sixth and final season, which will air on the Pop TV network sometime in 2020. Seasons 1-4 can be found on Netflix.
If nothing else, just watch for the epic one-liners or David’s award-winning facial expressions.
We have only two more spotlights for our 2019 Pride Month Series! Stay tuned for the next installment tomorrow, and check out the rest of the articles in the series here.