If you’re not watching What We Do in the Shadows, stop what you’re doing, reading this or otherwise, get access to a Hulu account and feast your eyes and ears on the best comedy out right now besides Ted Lasso. If you are watching this one-of-a-kind series that’s now in its 3rd season, based on the 2014 comedy mockumentary film of the same name by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, then you are well aware of the brilliance this show possess since season 1 hit in 2019. Seeing the film is not a pre-requisite to watch the series. Both are crafted with the highest quality.
Season 3 further builds upon what the previous 2 season’s accomplished – finding a lovable dysfunctional band of misfit vampires and their collective familiar relatable. And as much as they hate to admit it, they’re a family, even when their endless immortal lives have no meaning to them. Picking up where season two left off, Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén) saves his master Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) and fellow vampires Laszlo (Matt Berry), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), & Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) from certain death. Guillermo is found to be a descendent of the legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing which gives Guillermo certain abilities.
Locked in a cell in their basement as a prisoner, the vampires think they have control over Guillermo, even thinking they are outsmarting him. Colin Robinson makes it a point to check Guillermo’s bowl movements for letters to the outside world. Meanwhile, every morning, Guillermo sneaks out, does chores and lives his life. The massacre at the hands of Guillermo causes Viago (Taika Waititi) to appoint the 4 vampires to the Vampiric Council for the American Eastern Seaboard. In their promotion to the vampiric council, Guillermo also gets a promotion – no not to a vampire in which he’s served 11 years of his life as a familiar in hopes that one day he will become a vampire, but to a bodyguard for the 4 housemates.
What We Do in the Shadows strong suit has been its comedy since season 1 only proving how well the mocumentary style works given the right story and characters. The Office, Parks & Recreation & Modern Family all have found similar success with this format in a sea of staged sitcoms with a laugh track because of the characters that embody these stories. The film ran so the show could fly. Though none of the main characters are in the film, it’s the same universe since Taika and Jemanie Clement have both made appearances.
Being a vampire is not as easy as it looks or sounds. The vampires were once human so their human sides poke through their hard distant exteriors every now and then. Nandor especially feels the effects of being immortal – watching everyone around you die while you live on. It’s depressing, sure, but the writing finds a way for it to be funny. Kayvan Novak’s performance is spot on giving his vampire more dimension and development.
But it’s not just Nandor, Colin Robinson’s role has been expanded from season 1 as the weird, hyper annoying family member, co-worker, acquaintance that won’t shut up until all the life is drained out of you to a character that is given one of the biggest plots of the series so far. Season 3 is Colin Robinson’s coming out party, his origin story that is finally being told. Yes, more than Laszlo hiding out in Pennsylvania as Jackie Daytona Human Bartender or Nadja’s ghost doppelgänger inhabiting a doll with its own personality and longing for a different life or Guillermo turning into a vampire killer or just about any of Nandor’s subplots.
Leave it to the energy vampire’s to be the most mysterious and intriguing type of vampires on the show.
With each season the writing has only improved exponentially where season 3 is the strongest so far (and that’s saying something with how strong seasons 1 & 2 are). Add to that is the chemistry between the 5 stars of the show that have impeccable timing off one another to make the jokes land as effectively as they do. How Is it that Laszlo and Nadja still get away by calling Guillermo Gizmo (as if he’s a Gremlin) or something as simple as a siren capturing Colin Robinson into her clutches.
Perhaps what’s most admirable about What We Do in the Shadows that can be said about the film is how it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Everyone on screen is having a blast with their roles, there is not one single performance that looks lazy in the approach from the respective actor or actress. Situations that the vampires get roped into unwillingly are exactly what would happen if they existed. Laszlo would help their neighbor Sean with a pyramid scheme of selling pillows by dressing up as an English Lawyer, repeating objection over and over. Each housemate would use the cloak of duplication to pose as Nandor and use their best (worst) pick up line on a girl that works at a gym.
What can further elevate a comedy, sitcom or mockumentary starts and ends with reoccurring and guest cast members. Joining season 3 as The Guide is Kristen Schaal, while other cameos include Scott Bakula, Donal Logue, Aida Turturro, and David Cross.
I don’t think there is an ounce of criticism I can give toward this godsend of a comedy series. Every single episode will leave you in a fit of laughter while the next scene can bring tears even have sobering effects. What We Do in the Shadows is one of the best shows out right now. With incredible chemistry and timing between the main cast, strong writing, and an ability to touch on real topics and not have a laugh track to kill the mood, more people need to discover the film and the series because it’s brilliant from top to bottom.
We live in a world where Nandor, a 700-year-old vampire loves The Big Bang Theory and shouts Bazinga at the top of his lungs like a war cry in an Atlantic City casino.
Created By: Jemaine Clement
Music By: John Enroth & Albert Fox
Cinematography: DJ Stipsen
Starring: Harvey Guillén, Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Mark Proksch, Kristen Schaal
Where to Watch: Hulu
Release Date: September 2, 2021
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
My Score: 5 out of 5
Based On: What We Do in the Shadows by Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement