Emmys FYC: Annie Murphy’s Portrayal of Alexis Rose is a Masterclass in Character Development

After five years and six seasons, it seems that the cultural conversation has finally caught up with “Schitt’s Creek” — just in time for its early bow-out. And while losing the show is a travesty for all — save for co-creator Dan Levy, who stands firm in his decision — there are some silver linings to its demise; namely the overdue love the show is predicted to receive at this year’s Emmy Awards (in whatever capacity they happen to take place). 

With pundits seemingly confident that Catherine O’Hara (Moira Rose), along with Eugene (Johnny Rose) and Dan Levy (David Rose), are frontrunners for the win in their respective categories, there’s one dark horse in the Rose family: Annie Murphy, whose awards fate for her portrayal of Alexis Rose remains up in the air. Some think she can take home the win, many predict her momentum will end with a nomination and others feel she’ll be a non-factor in the race completely. 

Comparable to any of the robberies found on the various lists of most infamous robberies I looked up to make this analogy — none of which seemed all that relevant — this would be a large-scale, historical robbery. It’s a robbery I’ve dreaded since I began watching Schitt’s Creek at the end of last year, and a looming fear that has remained through each repeat viewing of the series. 

“Schitt’s Creek” has been lauded over and over for the skillful way it handles character development, especially for a scripted comedy series; a genre of storytelling not necessarily known for the growth and maturing of its characters. Over six seasons, we watch each member of the Rose family change for the better. In the pilot episode, the family seems more like a foursome of acquaintances, none of whom are necessarily thrilled to be in the presence of the others. By the finale, we’re right there with them as they tearfully depart from each other. These changes aren’t subtle, and it’s thrilling to see how the writers were able to pull them off. 

But while each character embarks on a personal journey of growth, none are as extensive, impressive nor rewarding as Alexis’, and the credit for that is owed just as much to Murphy’s portrayal as it is the writers who made it happen. She adds a refreshing depth to a character who so easily could have become a shallow stereotype of a dumb, rich girl — a depth that is easy to overlook.

Because at the end of the day, there have been dozens of Alexis Roses: From real life moguls in the vein of Paris Hilton, Kim K, etc., to the countless female characters that fulfill the “airhead” trope that are so often regressed to simply shells of real people presented only for comedic relief. In the hands of the wrong actor, Alexis may have simply been another victim of this inherently sexist trend. Murphy’s portrayal makes her anything but. 

In the same way she nails the comedic elements of the character — whether that be the instantly iconic delivery of an “Ew, David!” or the ease with which she recounts a ridiculous story often involving some combination of a Prince, a hostage situation and a yacht — Murphy also sells you on each moment imperative to the development of Alexis’ character. From the indecisiveness when choosing between Mutt (her past) and Ted (her future) early on in the show, to the pride when she finally graduates from high school, right up to — what I consider to be the climax of her characters arc — the independent solving of the mystery room, the moment in which both we the viewers and in a way, Alexis herself, knew she was ready to take on the next chapter of her life without her family, her flaky friends or a man. 

On the Kelly Clarkson Show — a cultural moment in itself — Murphy revealed that before landing the role of Alexis, she had her mind set on quitting acting after a string of failed auditions and bad luck. To go from such a low point to being able to hold your own alongside veteran actors like Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara is already a major feat, but Murphy takes it a step further. She’s arrived on the scene with a role that people will remember no matter where her career takes her, and for that, it should be her taking home the prize come the Emmys.