I was sitting on my couch next to my boyfriend last summer when I first encountered Moira Rose, the most idiosyncratic and entitled denizen of Netflix comedy Schitt’s Creek. My boyfriend took one look at her highly affected mannerisms, turned to me, and said, “Oh my God. It’s your mother.”
And while it’s true my mother did once refer to my first Brooklyn apartment as a “hovel” (it was a duplex in Park Slope), I knew it wasn’t her I was looking at on screen. It was me.
We had just moved to Los Angeles from New York, and while we were waiting for my boyfriend’s first paycheck at his new job to kick in, I did what one does when one is homesick, mired in culture shock, and mildly depressed: I watched an immodest amount of Netflix. And so began my deep kinship with Schitt’s Creek, a show you should really be watching.
Like Moira Rose, played by Catherine O’Hara, and the rest of her family, I was recently out of a job and a transplant in a new city. One day the Roses were millionaires, they next they were not. One day I was a senior editor at a magazine, the next I was repainting our new kitchen drawers because I had nothing else to do.
So I found solace in the comedy of a fictional family’s congenial misery. But in a show full of overblown caricatures, one small costume detail caught my interest above all else: Moira Rose’s pajama vests. When I first glimpsed one, I didn’t give it much thought — it was simply the logical transition of a couture obsessive’s day-to-night look. Then I started to notice she wears a vest in every bedtime scene. Where did they come from, these silky, brooch-laden vests? Why the commitment to this look? Aren’t they constricting?
Moira often comes off as inherently nonsensical, but most of her choices make sense when you break them open. She’s a chameleon, thus the impressive wig collection. She’s intrinsically attention-seeking, so naturally she must infiltrate the town choir and join city council. But what is she possibly gaining from layering a fitted vest over her otherwise cozy, stylish PJs?
It haunted me. I’d think about the vests as I wandered idly through Whole Foods, muttering “Aleeexissssss” to myself, over-pronouncing every syllable in Moira’s impossible-to-place accent. I folded laundry, wondering if the brooches on Moira’s vests ever popped open and pricked her in the middle of the night.
I’d think of her especially whenever I tried to live my life the way I used to before we moved. At first I walked everywhere like I did in New York, only succumbing to Ubers and buses when I finally accepted L.A. was just not built for pedestrians. I wore out the soles of my tennis shoes, but I still refuse to learn to drive.
Eventually, as I attempted to rationalize purchasing a $20 organic deodorant even though we were down to one income and I had a full stick of the regular stuff at home, it hit me: those vests, as out of place as they look in a motel bed, are just another one of Moira’s desperate attempts to cling to a life she no longer has. In every situation, she insists on adding an extra layer of superiority that distinguishes her from the lesser mortals with whom she’s now forced to associate. Moira Rose is sheet mask culture taken to the extreme: luxury for its own sake. She’s so entrenched in her self-care routines that they’ve ceased to become optional.
Like applying a snail mucin salve and expecting to wake up the next day without wrinkles, her insistence on sleeping in vests is a fool’s errand — it won’t change anything. But even though Moira may be just a tad tragic in that way, she and her vests have become a balm for me. Her futile attempt at performing importance through sleepwear cautions me to stay grounded and pliable in times of change — but she also gently reminds me that no matter how high-maintenance I’m being, I could always be worse.
I could always be (even more like) her.