‘Schitt’s Creek’ Did an Anti-Love Triangle — and It Worked

The Big Picture

Love triangles are often criticized for being overused and unnecessary in popular media, pitting the protagonist’s love interests against each other. Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek subverted the love triangle trope by allowing the protagonist, Alexis, to develop as a character and prioritize her own growth and independence. The relationships between Alexis, Ted, and Mutt in Schitt’s Creek were well-developed and showed the importance of self-discovery and putting one’s dreams first. In the end, Alexis chose to remain single and focus on herself.

The love triangle is one of the most polarizing romance tropes, and yet so much popular media features at least one, from The Great Gatsby back in 1925 to the recently concluded Sex Education. They’re often criticized for being dragged out, with love triangles in The Vampire Diaries and Jane the Virgin spanning several seasons, or for seeming downright unnecessary — did The Hunger Games really need the forced question of Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) versus Gale (Liam Hemsworth)? It was always obvious that the former was the right choice. They’re a cliché of teen and YA shows, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Riverdale, so they have a rep for feeling juvenile and frivolous. And perhaps the most annoying thing about them is they end up pitting the protagonist’s two love interests against each other — see Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob’s (Taylor Lautner) intense rivalry in Twilight.

One show, however, absolutely nailed the love triangle — Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek. The situation between Alexis Rose (Annie Murphy), Ted Mullens (Dustin Milligan), and Mutt Schitt (Tim Rozon) could perhaps better be considered an anti-love triangle due to the way it subverts conventions of the trope. The storyline works so well as both Ted and Mutt help facilitate Alexis’ excellent character development at different stages in her arc, and while it begins as a typical love triangle in Season 1, it soon becomes clear that the show has much bigger plans for Alexis than spending six seasons oscillating between two guys who, quite frankly, aren’t as interesting as she is. That being said, Mutt and Ted are both likable characters despite being very different from each other, and Alexis shares good chemistry with both of them; it makes sense why she’s torn between them at first. Though Alexis has relationships with both men over the course of the show, she ends up with neither of them, making it clear that they’re just stepping stones in her journey toward independence.

‘Schitt’s Creek’s Alexis Learns From Her Relationship With Mutt

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In Schitt’s Creek, every member of the Rose family is introduced with very specific baggage that has followed them from their former affluent lives. David (Dan Levy) has trust issues and trauma from his failed relationships, Johnny (Eugene Levy) feels disconnected from his kids due to his former busy career as Rose Video CEO, and Moira (Catherine O’Hara) is self-absorbed and judgmental, having previously sought industry validation instead of valuing what really matters — her family. Alexis, on the other hand, is adventurous but struggles with being alone. She constantly has to be around people and ties her identity to her romantic relationships. Prior to moving to the town, she followed her boyfriends around the globe, never letting herself be single, even though her relationships were largely superficial.

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When she arrives in Schitt’s Creek, Alexis is instantly attracted to Mutt, the mayor’s son — he’s mysterious, rugged, and fulfills her usual “bad boy” type. Mutt, however, is unavailable, and dating waitress Twyla (Sarah Levy), which in itself becomes somewhat of a spin-off love triangle from the main one. Though Alexis and Twyla are technically competing with each other in Season 1, they never engage in catty or jealous behavior toward each other, and even end up close friends by Season 6. Twyla arguably turns out to be even more important to Alexis than Mutt, consistent with Schitt’s Creek’s habit of turning the love triangle on its head.

Alexis is pretty selfish and vapid in Season 1, and so with Mutt being taken, she decides to date Ted, the sweet local vet, as it’s more comfortable for her than the alternative of being single. Ted is smitten with Alexis, and she carelessly leads him on, accidentally getting engaged to him while she still harbors a crush on Mutt. Simultaneously, she conducts community service alongside Mutt, where the pair bond and develop feelings for each other. At the beginning of Season 2, Alexis finally works up the courage to break up with Ted and starts dating newly-single Mutt. Much of the first season is framed around Mutt and Alexis eventually coming together because of their chemistry and Alexis’ belief that Ted is “too nice,” but they soon realize that their connection is mostly physical; their personalities are incompatible, and they have little in common. This helps Alexis discover that there are more important things than putting appearance first and sticking to her type. Though she thinks she should want Mutt, he’s not actually the best match for her, and the couple decide to end things.

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Alexis and Ted Had a Healthy Relationship — While It Lasted

After Ted returns from the honeymoon he was supposed to go on with Alexis, it’s clear he’s had a bit of a glow-up — he rides a motorbike and wears leather jackets now, which immediately catches Alexis’ attention. Deep down, though, he’s still the same kind, nerdy person who loves puns and was unable to hold her attention while Mutt was in the picture. At the end of Season 2, Alexis gets a job working at Ted’s veterinary clinic, and the pair begin to connect on a much deeper level than Alexis had been able to with Mutt; she is able to put her attraction on the back burner in order to keep things professional and platonic with Ted, and starts to appreciate how much she enjoys his company — they work together in a way she and Mutt never did.

Throughout Season 3, Ted supports Alexis in her decision to finish high school, and the lines between friendship and romance get blurred when they share a spontaneous celebratory kiss upon Alexis receiving her results. As Ted has a new girlfriend, they quickly draw up some boundaries and agree that it can’t happen again, but Alexis goes on to discover that she’s fallen in love with Ted. Alexis, who has grown into a much more selfless person, only cares about Ted’s happiness, and she puts some distance between them after she leaves the clinic to attend college and commence her new career in PR. When Mutt briefly returns at the end of Season 4, he makes a move on Alexis, but she has the confidence to reject him despite being unattached — she knows her heart is with someone else, and no longer craves a distraction from that fact. Alexis and Ted stay in touch, though, and Season 4 ends with them reuniting after Ted confesses his feelings for her. Alexis had similarly put herself out there a few episodes before, expecting nothing in return. After their slow burn development, the subsequent romance between Alexis and Ted feels earned, and they go on to have a happy and healthy relationship throughout Season 5 that brings many humorous and heartfelt moments to the series.

By ‘Schitt’s Creek’s End, Alexis Chose Herself and Her Dreams

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When Alexis opens her own PR company and Ted gets a job opportunity in the Galápagos for six months, the duo are faced with the challenging prospect of a long-distance relationship. Alexis originally intends to join Ted, but both of them eventually face the reality that it’s not what she wants, and she wouldn’t be happy on a remote island with only her boyfriend to keep her occupied. They manage several months long-distance, in which Alexis flourishes as she focuses on her business. When Ted’s contract gets extended to three years, the couple mutually agree to break up in a scene that’s one of the show’s most emotional yet; it’s bittersweet, but tinged with optimism since this is the best move for both of them. It’s refreshing that Schitt’s Creek shows a break-up in such a positive light — Alexis and Ted still love each other, but they’re both at points in life where they want to prioritize their ambitions and exciting new career developments. It doesn’t make their relationship any less meaningful or undermine the impact they had on each other, and it feels possible that one day they could reconcile.

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When Alexis struggles after the break-up and has an unsuccessful rebound, she accepts that she needs to face head-on the heartbreak she’s so unfamiliar with experiencing due to all her previous relationships being shallow and unsatisfying. She remains single for the rest of the series, and it’s the perfect conclusion to her arc. At the start of the show, she defines herself through her surface-level relationships with men. Now, she knows not only what she wants out of a relationship, but also that she doesn’t have to be in one to feel complete. It is because of Alexis’ initial romance with Mutt that she is able to realize what she really wants from a partner — somebody she connects with and who understands her. Through her relationship with Ted, she sees that she is able to have a fulfilling relationship where she doesn’t settle for less than what she deserves, and that a partner should love and support her fully. Alexis’ relationship with Ted also allows her to mature emotionally to the point where she realizes that she shouldn’t prioritize a man over her goals and dreams; Season 1 Alexis would never have made this decision.

With Alexis, Ted, and Mutt, Schitt’s Creek is able to deliver a love triangle that feels natural, and ends at the right time — Alexis’ big love story is pretty much decided from Season 2 when the writers make it clear that the romance with Mutt has run its course. And though many fans were hoping that Alexis and Ted would end up together, the show subverts expectations and confirms that the real endgame is Alexis becoming the best version of herself that she can be, and for now, that just happens to be a single one.

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