Scene Breakdown: A Little Bit of Alexis Helps a With Whole Lot of Anxiety in Schitt’s Creek’s “Driving Test”

One of the strongest facets of Schitt’s Creek is the Rose family’s ever present love for each other despite all their trials and tribulations during their time in the town. Even when they fight, it brings them closer together in the end, and there are no resentments or grudges that last long enough to bring the audience’s mood down. It’s aspirational stuff, and just one of the many reasons this show is still so beloved.

There’s one Rose family conflict that means the most to me personally, the one scene above all others in the entire run of the show that I recall the most often. It’s the argument David and Alexis have in the car right before David’s driving test in the aptly named Season 3 episode…”Driving Test.” Stewing in his anticipatory anxiety for said test, and certain of his inevitable failure, David asks Alexis for twenty minutes of alone time to do transcendental meditation (as one does). Alexis tells him he’s blowing the whole thing way out of proportion, and throws out an absolute stunner of a line in response to the self inflicted pressure her brother has put on himself about the test and the imagined scorn he’s sure the instructor will feel for him:

“Trust me, people aren’t thinking about you the way that you’re thinking about you.”

David is momentarily taken aback, understandably so for me and anyone else who regularly, or even just sometimes, feels so crushed under the weight of their anxiety that it seems inconceivable that everyone else isn’t somehow a participant in it as well.

Because siblings can get to us in a specific way that nobody else is quite capable of, the argument that ensues is unsurprising. David gets defensive as Alexis doubles down, especially when she tells him that his tendency to overthink is why he fails “all the time,” and so he comes back at her with the accusation that she’s not an anxious person because she’s never had the occasion to be, since everything comes easily to her and just falls into her lap. Both siblings are a little too dismissive of the other’s experiences, things get snippy, and at the end of it all David goes into the test even more nervous than when he arrived, despite Alexis’ last assurance that “nobody cares.”

As annoying as it can be, sometimes the best advice isn’t what we want to hear, and Alexis ends up being exactly right. The driving instructor couldn’t be less invested, something that David would have been far too nervous to pick up on, still trapped inside his own head. If Alexis’ words hadn’t given him pause, he very well may have actually failed the driving test, which would only have reinforced everything his anxiety makes him believe about himself. But he takes a tiny leap of faith and tests Alexis’ theory, striking up a conversation with the instructor, who informs David that what he really cares about is becoming a DJ. We get to see David smile warmly as he comes around to the idea that maybe his sister knows what she’s talking about. 

Afterwards, rekindling their earlier conversation on the drive home even allows David to get off his chest how much he used to worry about Alexis when they were younger. She was entirely unaware, and not only gains some understanding about where David’s anxiety stems from, but realizes for the first time how much her brother has always cared about her, and then it’s her turn to smile.

A lesser show would have had David and Alexis bicker in the car, played it just for laughs, and left it at that. Instead, in just one of the many moments of the earlier seasons of Schitt’s Creek when Alexis proves that the seeds of the woman she blossomed into by the end of the series were always there in some form, she gifts her brother, and anyone else who may need to hear it, with a brilliant if slightly offbeat mantra.

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