Jocelyn Schitt: the Unsung Hero of Schitt’s Creek

Jocelyn Schitt is much more than she seems on Schitt's Creek...

Jocelyn in Schitt's Creek
Photo: CBC

It is news to no one that Schitt’s Creek is an absolute delight. It is one of the most good natured, sweet, funny, clever, progressive shows around, as anyone who has watched Schitt’s Creek will tell anyone who hasn’t watched Schitt’s Creek, over and over and over again…

The story of the Rose family who lose their wealth and end up moving to a motel in the town Johnny Rose (Eugene Levy) once bought for his son David (Dan Levy) as a joke, it’s a fish-out-of water class-clash comedy to warm the cockles over its six seasons.

The eccentric Rose family (including the amazing Catherine O’Hara as Moira and wonderful Annie Murphy as Alexis), might be the stars but the residents of Schitt’s Creek are perhaps the heart.

David’s best mate Stevie (Emily Hampshire) and love interest Patrick (Noah Reid), Alexis sexy vet boyfriend Ted (Dustin Milligan), tragi-comic one-liner machine Twyla Sands (Dan Levy’s sister Sarah Levy) are a massive part of the show and of course the gross but sort of sweet opportunist Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott) is Johnny’s nemesis and some time counterpart.

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The Schitts are something of a Jungian shadow to the Roses, at least at first. They are the unknown dark side, the poorer, slightly gross mirrors of the snooty Roses who look down on them despite living in two motel rooms the Schitts graciously donated to them. 

And while Roland actively trolls Johnny from early on in the show, part petty revenge for Johnny’s condescending attitude to the town he genuinely loves (while making zero effort to improve), Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson) is a much gentler presence. 

Jocelyn is quietly gracious. Jocelyn avoids the limelight. Jocelyn is a great mother, a devoted wife, an active supporter of the town and an excellent friend to Moira even when Moira is cruel in return. Jocelyn is the show’s unsung hero.

Moira is fabulous, no one is arguing with that. She’s got the outfits and the wigs and the accent… while Jocelyn has that weird hair do and a wardrobe that Blouse Barn built. But Jocelyn’s secret weapon is that she’s constantly underestimated. 

It’s a smart bit of casting, Robertson who plays Jocelyn was born in 1971 making her just five years older than Tim Rozon who plays her hunky son Mutt (and the fact that she doesn’t look old enough to be his mum is a plot line in an episode where Alexis thinks the two are having an affair). On the other hand Chris Elliot (Roland), who was born in 1960, could just about have been Mutt’s dad if he’d fathered him at 16.

What Jocelyn has, which few of the other characters do, is emotional intelligence in spades.

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Jocelyn the kind

Stuck up but glorious Moira doesn’t know how lucky she is to have a friend like Jocelyn. She gives her a part in the Jazzagals and all but lets her take over. She supports her career and talks to her like the big star Moira thinks she is (rather than the slightly washed up soap star that she actually is). She lets David and Moira use her kitchen even though she clearly doesn’t want to (and they don’t even know how to fold the cheese…). And she opts not to ultimately compete with Moira for the role of town councillor. Though to be fair the competitiveness doesn’t sit well with Jocelyn. “The other day, I called another driver an effing moron,” she admits. “I didn’t say the ‘f’ word, but I said, ‘effing, ‘ and that is not me!”

A truly heroic bit of emotional intelligence and selflessness comes in an exchange with Moira after Jocelyn has taken her for a pamper day at a local salon (Moira says “let’s not and say we did” when Joce first offers. Rude). Moira emerges with a hair do identical to Jocelyn’s, which she clearly hates.

“I know you hate your hair, Moira. Almost as much as you hate this town,” she says. “But there’s a possibility you could be here a really long time. May I offer you something? The people here are just trying to help you, and there’ll be days when your wigs need conditioning. Or one of your fashion-y blouses shrinks in the dryer, and you’ll have to go to Janine’s. Or get a shirt at the Blouse Barn, just like the rest of us. And I would hate for that day to catch you by surprise.”

Jocelyn the devoted

Look, nobody wants to body shame, but it is hard to ignore the fact that Roland Schitt is kind of grim. The ineffectual, lazy mayor of Schitt’s Creek, he’s basically a small town Betelgeuse with a mullet. But Jocelyn loves him. The two have been married for 27 years, we learn, and many references are made to the couple’s love life and Roland’s virility (ewww).

“It’s just that I know what it’s like to be in bed with a naked Roland Schitt, and I am powerless against that,” says Joceyln. 

So lovely is Joceyln as a wife that she lets Roland buy her coconut macaroons every Valentines Day even though she is very allergic. “Yeah, every Valentine’s Day I just rash right up,” she laughs. “Last year my throat almost completely shut.”

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Jocelyn the wise

Alexis has a difficult relationship with her own mother, Moira. The two love each other, sure, but Moira finds it very uncomfortable spending quality time with her daughter (unlike David who she gets on with better). Moira isn’t naturally nurturing, but Jocelyn is. 

By the time Alexis decides to go back to school in season three she is already growing as a person and Jocelyn is a part of that growth. When Alexis bravely takes credit for other girls passing notes, and Jocelyn discovers that the note, rather than being mean, is actually saying how pretty Alexis is, she lets her take the fall (either that or she doesn’t realize, but we’d prefer to believe Joce is smarter than that). And when Johnny “helps” Alexis with her homework making it unrecognizable as her own, Jocelyn tells Alexis off but gives her a chance to do it again, marking her up for version two and making her feel proud of her own work.

“No, no, this one was definitely better,” Jocelyn tells Johnny when he still thinks his version was right. “Because no one helped her write it.”

Indeed in season four when Alexis has successfully run “singles night” at the Cafe Tropical Jocelyn speaks to Moira.

“I can’t speak to who Alexis was before you came here, and from what I’ve heard I don’t really wanna dig any deeper into that, but what I can say is this,” she says. “I have watched your daughter, over the last couple of years, grow into one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. She is a hard worker, she is kind, and she is capable of so much more than people give her credit for.” And she is not wrong.

Jocelyn is instrumental in helping the Roses to grow and she does this without expectation. Her fashions are basic but her emotional intelligence is interstellar. Jocelyn Schitt, we salute you.

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