Season 3 of “What We Do In the Shadows” proves it’s half-hour comedy on TV02.09.2021
What We Do In the Shadows is a love story. The catch is that it’s between an ancient vampire and a human minon who happens to also be a vampire slayer. The film is also set on Staten Island. It was shot as a reality-TV series. Obsessed with supernatural creatures, gore and dirty sex. It’s a hilarious half-hour of comedy that is completely absurd.
FX’s “What We Do in Shadows” returns for its third season, which will air today. It is a spinoff of Taika Waititi’s 2014 feature film. It has a distinct small-screen identity at this point. However, its creators may still occasionally pop up from time to time. Waititi briefly appeared in the premiere of this year’s show. He informed the undead quartet (Nandor (Kayvannovak), Laszlo, Nadja (Natasia demetriou) and “energy vampire Colin Robinson” (Mark Proksch), as well as their mortal slave (i.e. Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), “familiar”–of their fate after last season’s climactic violence, in which Guillermo was revealed to be a bloodsucker-slaying descendant from Van Helsing. He also killed most of his vampiric council members to save his housemates.
The foursome discovers that they are being appointed to the leadership of the eastern shore’s vampiric council, instead of being executed for their crime (which is against the cardinal rule that vampires should not kill each other) This is clearly absurd because it doesn’t make any sense.
This is what What We Do In the Shadows does best: it balances the absurd and the everyday things to expert effect. Guillermo is once again the show’s center. He is seen in episode one languishing in his dungeon cell as his vampire employers debate whether to kill him. Guillermo is unlikely to go anywhere. Guillen, the glue that holds it all together, is a pudgy and lonely man who wants Nandor to make him a vampire. His suppressed anger at being slighted by Nandor and marginalized by his buffoonish employers who can’t do without him and treat him like dirt, has now turned into lethal form.
Guillermo is both submissive and in control. He acts as an audience proxy and his eyes to the camera (like Jim in The Office) mark him as one of the few characters who aren’t blinded by delusion. There is a lot of deceit in the latest episodes, four of which were sent to press. The episode that features Guillermo begins with Nandor and his company. He has been sneaking out from his cage every day to perform the household chores his pompous friends can’t and won’t do. After that ruse is over, Guillermo pretends to have been hypnotized and will be killed by the vampires. As their bodyguard, which, as you might guess, is the same as being their familiar.
Nandor, Nadja, and Laszlo are plagued by misperceptions about their charm and abilities. In a second episode, everyone uses a “cloakof duplication” to transform into Nandor to help him get a date with a local woman. And in a fourth Atlantic City-set episode, Nadja is unable to tell the difference between the real Rat Pack (with whom she used to be close) and the tribute band performing at a casino club (the tip-off). Frank Sinatra is now Asian. The humor in What We Do In the Shadows is largely due to the complete lack of knowledge of the vampire protagonists. Their problems are largely due to their stubborn belief in themselves, despite all evidence to the contrary. They are then able to navigate through many predicaments, which is confirmation of their greatness.
“The fact they manage to stumble their way through different predicaments is confirmation (to them), of their greatness, and only adds chaos.”
The third season of What We Do In the Shadows doesn’t have a stand-alone story, at least not in the first four episodes. Last year’s “On the Run” featured Laszlo taking on the role of the “human bartender,” Jackie Daytona. It seems that Laszlo is reduced to a secondary role. His primary role is to be the sex fiend, who talks about whacking away in a shed and engaging with outrageous carnal insanity. It’s not that Matt Berry isn’t great in these chapters so much as that the show appears to have rendered Laszlo a one-dimensional punchline, which seems like a mistake given that Berry’s conceited-beyond-belief doofus has often been the proceedings’ sharpest character.
The same can also be said, to a lesser degree, about Proksch’s Colin Robinson, whose fuller integration into the group has drained him (pun intended) of some of his dull-awkward-outsider appeal. Novak and Berry are less prominent in the series, which shines a brighter spotlight on Novak, Demetriou and their respective personalities. Novak is particularly funny because of his arrogant idiocy and willingness to work out in front of human gym members. Watching Nandor dance to Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” (while wearing a Seger T-shirt and nothing else) is an early season highlight, and it–along with a related kickball game between vampires and werewolves–epitomizes the marriage of the ordinary and the out-of-this-world that makes the show such an inventive riot.
Although Jackie Daytona will not return in Season 3 and Mark Hamill has yet to confirm his role as “Jim the Vampire”, What We Do in the Shadows is sure to have more surprises. It doesn’t need guest stars or recurring gimmicks to succeed. It has the most hilarious cast (and writers) of TV. Their future is bright, much to the dismay of its dark-loving characters.