Comedy is hard to come by in this day and age. Good comedy is even more of a white whale, a diamond in the rough, especially in long form entertainment. Thankfully, over the past 4 years, the streaming service Hulu has found the needle in the haystack in comedy among the last of a dying breed – sitcoms. That series, that has found a consistency season over season is What We Do in the Shadows based on the 2014 film of the same name by directors, writers and occasional cameo appearances Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. With the consistency the series has had, surpassing the source material in popularity wasn’t that difficult – the film is one of the rare victories for the genre and the series follows suit.
Though, the film version is wildly entertaining on its own merit and needs as many eyeballs as possible.
Now in their fourth season and 2 more guaranteed on the way, the series has nothing to prove anymore, the show stands on its own two feet, or hangs upside down or sleeps in a coffin with its 4 vampires, one familiar, and one Annabelle like doll causing a series of controlled chaotic events that are still fresh 40 episodes in. To say the series has exceeded expectation is an understatement – each week the hijinks cause more laughs than the previous and there is no signs of slowing down or getting stale.
Following The Office, Parks and Recreation & Modern Family in the mockumentary style of comedy, season 3 leaves the vampires going their separate ways. A year later, the energy vampire formally known as Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is resurrected as a child in which Laszlo (Matt Berry) who has been living in the Staten Island home in the absence cares for, along with Gizmo aka Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), since Guillermo doesn’t trust Laszlo to care for a child that emerged from the dead carcass of the adult Colin Robinson. Nandor (Kayvan Novak) in his return, comes across a Djinn (Anoop Desai) trapped in a genie bottle and is granted 52 wishes while Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) decides to open a vampire nightclub with The Guide (Kristen Schaal).
What has worked for the past 3 seasons remains, not much of the formula has changed – shenanigans around every corner while the talking heads become more potent and comedic. Who said living for eternity had to be boring? The main plot for season for surrounds baby-proofing and updating the disheveled, falling apart home. Splintering off that main narrative are equally fascinating and sidesplitting situations these vampires constantly find themselves in. Among the main cast, no one outshines the other – but all get their moment to make a play for the MVP. One episode it will be Nandor focused, the next Laszlo and so on but it’s the performances, the comedic timing, the relationships that keep the wheels turning from one episode to the next.
While Kayvan, Matt, Natasia, and Harvey are at their most comfortable and funny in season 4, Mark Proksch as baby Colin Robinson, oftentimes referred to as ‘Boy’ by Laszlo who steals the season from right under everyone else’s feet. Whether it’s his face superimposed on a child’s body going through puberty to teenage angst and adulthood overnight, taking naps, annoying Laszlo with the line “Hey Laszlo, guess what”, appearing as the main entertainment night after night at Nadja’s nightclub or hitting walls with a hammer in the basement, Colin Robinson deserves to have his time to shine, no longer sucking the energy but giving a fresh does of it.
However, Harvey Guillén is still the beating heart and soul of this small group. Guillermo for as good of a person as he is, is still a beacon of hope. He is still optimistic that Nandor will turn him into a vampire after a decade of service despite the constant disappointment and for all that is thrown at Guillermo in terms of physicality, Harvey fully commits to the action – whether it’s taking control of renovations or fighting in a familiar/vampire fight club. The show could use more of the Van Helsing subplot and the request comes when Guillermo’s family comes for a strange dinner at the house when Nandor, Baby Colin and Laszlo go on a men’s trip with neighbor Sean (Anthony Atamanuik).
Finding anything negative to say about What We Do in the Shadows is a difficult task. For 10 weeks over the past 4 years, the show continues to outdo itself with storylines that further prevent any character development in the best possible way. Why change yourself for the better when you can continue to be self-destructive, arrogant, naïve, and narcissistic?
With season 5 and 6 on the way, What We Do in the Shadows shows no signs of running out of gas or losing its schtick. And where season 4 leaves off, seeing where the story goes with certain characters is enough to return to the series for years to come. The show, like its source material is a wonderful distraction from the outside world – proving the parody is very much alive among a house full of vampires. No other show can take what many obsess over and use it to their advantage. Aside from the writing, and the dynamic between the main cast, the true strength of the series has come when leaning into the obscure and weird aspects of being an eternal being – the lore of centuries past and how vampires adapt to a modern world is purely fascinating.
Created By: Jemaine Clement
Episodes Directed By: Yana Gorskaya, Kyle Newacheck, Tig Fong & DJ Stipsen
Music By: Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography: DJ Stipsen
Starring: Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch, Kristen Schaal
Where to Watch: Hulu
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Based On: What We Do in the Shadows by Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement