Moira Rose’s accent was one of the highlighting aspects of Schitt’s Creek, but where did the notable dialect come from and who created it?
In Schitt’s Creek Moira Rose’s strange accent is easily one of the most noticeable and funny aspects of her character. But Moira’s accent is as unplaceable as it is delightful, sometimes swerving across the Atlantic and straddling multiple States and historical periods in a single episode. Brought to life by the legendary Catherine O’Hara Moira was the family matriarch throughout all six seasons of the Canadian sitcom. Moira Rose was created by Eugene Levy and Dan Levy themselves who also starred as the on-screen father and son pair Johnny Rose and David Rose. After the series was added to Netflix it saw a huge boom in personality, but despite this Schitt’s Creek ended after season 6, a finale season that was showered with awards after it was released.
Responsible for Moira’s weird accent, Catherine O’Hara was also the source of many of the prestigious awards that the final season received. Schitt’s Creek followed Moira along with the rest of her family, Johnny, David, and her daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy) as they suddenly lost their entire huge fortune and instead had to live in a small backwater town. Of all of the Rose family, Moira struggled the most with giving up the lavish lifestyle she had become accustomed to and get used to a more modest living arrangement. It took the former soap opera star a while to embrace the situation but she eventually did by joining the Jazzagals a cappella group and taking an active role on the town council. While her time living as a Schitt’s Creek resident wasn’t always easy, she never lost her true sense of self.
While each character presented in the series had their quirks, Moira’s level of eccentrics demonstrated the show at its peak. When the character was first developed by the Levy men, who thought O’Hara was perfect for the role. Due to her history working with Eugene Levy, O’Hara was quick to come on board. Moira’s outward appearance was inspired by notable socialite Daphne Guinness, with the black and white muted color tone highlighting her over-the-top style. Crucially, O’Hara also had a lot of say in the development of Moira. Not only was she allowed to pick out Moira’s variety of wigs, but she also concocted Moira’s weird accent. The character memorably had an undefinable dialect, which was highlighted by antiquated vocabulary. The accent, however, had a deeper meaning connected to Moira’s past.
According to O’Hara (via Variety), she didn’t immediately know what she wanted Moira’s accent to be at the beginning. She then considered Moira as “someone who is learning a different word every day and tries to slip them into conversations as much as possible.” That notion then greatly evolved with the aspect of Moira and Johnny’s past spent traveling the world, leading O’Hara to believe would cause her character to pick up certain dialects. As a reminder of her old lifestyle before the Rose family lost their fortune, Moira combined the cultures she encountered through her speech in what O’Hara described as “oral mementos of her world travels.” Moira certainly wasn’t one to forgo reminding her peers about her past privileges, and her accent was one way to hold onto the past.
Aside from viewers of Schitt’s Creek, dialect coaches have been intrigued by Moira’s unique way of speech. Though some had considered the accent somewhat of a Mid-Atlantic hybrid, others like Samara Bay (via Elle) have pointed out that there’s a mix of British, Canadian, and old Hollywood in Moira’s speech. Some of that was most likely due to O’Hara’s own dialect as a Canadian citizen, but she made it her own by enunciating certain vowels or syllables and incorporating old-fashioned vocabulary. Schitt’s Creek might be over, but the accent will always be remembered as one of the most entertaining aspects of the series, thanks to O’Hara.
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