Eugene Levy on keeping 'Schitt's Creek' edgy, heartfelt and weird

Actors Daniel Levy, left to right, Annie Murphy,Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Chris Elliott are shown in this undated handout image from the CBC show "Schitts Creek" THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CBC-Steve Wilkie MANDATORY CREDIT

TORONTO - It would seem that the bonkers clan at the heart of "Schitt's Creek" is inching towards accepting their riches-to-rags reality.

But rest assured, they will never fully shed their special brand of crazy, star Eugene Levy says as a third season of the hit CBC-TV series debuts Tuesday.

The comedy veteran, who co-created the show with son Dan Levy, notes each character ended last season with deeper ties to the unfortunately named town they once treated as a joke.

They've forged friendships, dabbled in community politics, applied their questionable skills to local businesses, and found a fair bit of romance.

But these are slow learners, Levy reminds us.

"The funniest thing about the family is they are who they are. And we don't want to lose that because it is funny," he says of the once-wealthy Rose family, who are forced to live in a small town after suddenly losing their fortune.

"They are never going to dress down, for instance. They definitely hang on to the life they had through what they're wearing. They don't want to change and yet they're starting to heavily assimilate into the town."

The second season ended with Levy's pragmatic patriarch Johnny finding more kinship with crude potbellied-mayor Roland Schitt, played by Chris Elliott, than a snooty couple he used to call his friends.

Meanwhile, a possible romance seems to be brewing between Dan Levy's self-obsessed David and a hunky woodworker, who may or may not also have a thing for David's flannel-loving gal pal, Stevie, played by Emily Hampshire. It's yet another complication for the pansexual David, whose past sexual hookups with Stevie made things confusing enough. With a third person in the mix, things can only get weirder.

"This show, despite the fact that it's on at 9 o'clock, was always kind of designed to be a cable-oriented show," says Levy, steering clear of spoiling too much of the storyline.

"And that's certainly something that CBC was interested in when they picked us up, the idea that their direction in comedy was going more kind of cable-sensitive. So we are always trying to kind of push the envelope in certain directions without necessarily going over the line."

There's also the consideration that "Schitt's Creek" is thought of as more of a specialty series in other markets where it's developing a global following: Vanity Fair recently featured the show's return to the U.S. specialty channel Pop, and newspaper reviews in the U.K. and Australia have welcomed its addition to Netflix.

In the third season, Johnny realizes that getting the motel on its feet could help make the town more attractive to buyers, while faded soap star/matriarch Moira, played by Catherine O'Hara, struggles to connect with average folks as she begins her tenure on town council.

Levy notes the spoiled Rose children have their own challenges: daughter Alexis, played by Annie Murphy, decides it's time to complete her high school education, while David embarks on another business venture after some success with the Blouse Barn.

Shenanigans abound, but it's all rooted in heartfelt relationships.

"I firmly believe, and certainly personally in all the work that I've done, that you pour your comedy through the character," says Levy, a film and TV veteran, who turned 70 in December.

"If you have a very believable character that rides the line of comedy and drama then you give the audience something to hang on to. And if they can hang onto that and get emotionally involved in your show, in your story through the characters, then you really have an investment with your audience."

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated the character David was polyamorous, rather than pansexual.

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