comedy & parody

[TV Review] What We Do in the Shadows Season 1 (2019) ★★★★★

Laszlo and Nadja pointing at Nandor in What We Do in the Shadows season 1

What We Do in the Shadows is a horror comedy treat with fangs and big laughs. 


What We Do in the Shadows is a supernatural horror mockumentary comedy about four vampires living in Staten Island New York. The series is a spin-off from the 2012 film of the same name and evenly funny, if not even funnier. It combines the odd and quirky characters of the vampires with their absurdly funny adventures using different comical styles, from slapstick, absurdism and crude or deadpan humor.

It’s a parody of the vampire genre, but it has created a whole new universe of its own, with its own voice and unique storytelling. If you have always wanted to know what it is really like to be a vampire, I mean for real, then this is your chance. 

This first season consists of 10 episodes with each a duration of 22 minutes. Each episode has a different adventure, problem or just life to experience, while each event is cause for another, forming the bigger thread woven through the storyline. 


Plot

Vampires Nandor the Relentless (757 years old), Laszlo Cravensworth, Nadja Demetriou and Colin Robinson an energy vampire live together in Staten Island. Nandor’s human familiar Guillermo, lives with them under the stairs in a cupboard. Laszlo and Nadja are married. 

A camera crew follows their daily lives and it becomes interesting when Baron Afanas shows up and wants to take over the world. While Collin tries to accomplish that by means of the city council, the others take the Baron on a night on the town, that doesn’t end well. 

But they have their usual problems to deal with as well. Laszlo gets trapped in an animal shelter while being a bat. Nadja falls in love with her reincarnated old love Gregor, now called Jeff and turns wallflower Jenna into a vampire. They have to host the biannual orgy at their house. They have to appear before the Vampiric Council.

Colin who drains the energy of everybody being an energy vampire and Daywalker, falls in love with a colleague who proves to be an emotional vampire feeding off the emotions of others. Nandor wants to be an American and applies for citizenship and finds out he has 200 thousand descendants and Guillermo who desperately wants to be turned by Nandor, finds out he is a descendent of Van Helsing. 


Why you should watch it

If you want to be cheered up or are in need of some laughs, you have to watch this series. It’s deadly funny. No opportunity is left unused to create some kind of laugh using different kinds of comical tools. From deadpan, dry humor, crude and spicy humor to absurd or slapstick hilarious fun and over the top campy guilty pleasures. Each character is highly comical without becoming a cliche or lame. But every situation they stumble into is evenly funny and both the characters as the situations reinforce each other creating an over the top fun situation. 

Laszlo is a very odd vampire. His love for Nadja and his love for hedges he trimmed to resemble vulva’s, even his mother’s, is creepy and weird and absurd. His attempt to turn into a bat is so funny because he has to shout ‘Bat!’ before he can turn. 

Nandor is a little bit out of touch with the real world but has Guillermo at his side. He doesn’t pretend he isn’t a vampire causing some fright in a store and acts very regal.

Nadja is a hopeless romantic. Still in love with Laszlo, she always yearns for her long lost love Gregor who has died several times by beheading, but reincarnated every time and is then found by Nadja. She’s a feminist and proud of it, helping a timid college girl empowering herself by turning her into a vampire, which doesn’t help.

But Colin might be the funniest of them all, being so excruciatingly annoying. Just by looking at him you feel drained. How he moves, how he talks, what he says and does it really does drain the life out of you. Still they put up with him, because he’s the only one who can go out by daylight and has a job to support them all. 

The acting is superb. The set design, the gothic old house, the coffins, the way they dress and dress up is excellent and it all adds to the gothic but comical style. Except for Collin, he lives in a very boring normal room and dresses accordingly very very fifties daddy style. 

The structure is really sleek, fast paced, firing comical event after comical sentences and dialogue and oneliners, after slapstick situation and so on. There isn’t an opportunity missed to deliver a laugh. But it never gets lame or repetitive. The foundation of the series are the strongly shaped characters and their interactions. They form the basis of these storylines and the comical events. Timing is everything when it comes to humor, and this series does everything right. 


My favorite part

I really like Laszlo. He is such an odd, but very likable character. He is rude and selfish but also very adorable and a perfect example of a person you can never stay mad at for long. He’s impulsive and always gets himself into trouble and he is also very emotional. The way he talks is overly dramatic as if he were in a Shakespeare play and when he gets bored he can act like a spoiled child. The episode where he gets trapped in an animal shelter is so funny. And when they go out and he wants to wear a cursed hat all kinds of bad luck pursue him. 

The episode when they have to face the Vampiric Council is too funny. Especially when all kinds of other vampires are the members. Vampires we know, have walked right out of another tv series or film. It’s such a fun meta-storyline that defines the love for parody. Because the actors who played these other vampires in those series and films, also play these members and look exactly like their previous roles. 

Of course there’s Viago, the vampire from the What We Do in the Shadow movie, played by Taiki Waititi and Vlad played by Jemaine Clement. Also the creators of both the film and series. But Tilda Swinton is also present portraying the role of Eve from Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) and Wesley Snipers via skype as Blade from Blade (1998) and Danny Trejo as Razor Charlie from From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Evan Rachel Wood as Sophie-Anne Lecerq from True Blood and Paul Reubens as Amilyn from the film Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992). 

It’s a very creative series that brings comedy to a higher level, to entertain in a witty comical style. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Fun factor: ★★★★★

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Read more about What We Do in the Shadows:


Cast and crew

What We Do in the Shadows is created by Taiki Waititi and Jemaine Clement. It stars Kayvan Novak (Nandor), Matt Berry (Laszlo), Natasia Demetriuo (Nadja), Harvey Guillén (Guillermo), Mark Proksch (Colin), Doug Jones (Baron), Beanie Feldstein (Jenna) and Jake McDorman (Jeff).

Music: Mark Mothersbaugh. Cinematography: D.J. Stipsen. Production companies: FX Productions, Two Canoes Pictures, 343 Incorporated. Original network: FX.


Check the trailer below


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