Everyone knows the classic vampire mannerisms. Quirky as they are, a vampire must always drop whatever task they are doing and give in to their natural instincts. These include but are not limited to, 3 sequential jumps in a row, flying up to the lowest cloud in the sky, following a sock down river and finally, if a bag of rice is dropped in front of a vampire, they must count every single piece. Vampires are also very group orientated – rarely does an outsider join the ranks and become a part of the group. These mannerisms are what consume the Staten Island vampires in What We Do in the Shadows season 5,episode 3 titled Pride Parade.
I should correct myself, only a couple of the vampires partake is busting these so-called vampire myths, Laszlo (Matt Berry) after learning Guillermo’s (Harvey Guillén) secret has taken up to conduct vampire experiments on Guillermo in the name of science. Naturally Nandor (Kayvan Novak) becomes extremely jealous of the two spending time together but considers Guillermo merely fascinated with Laszlo’s intelligence. Who could have foreseen vampires to be jealous creatures? To win Guillermo’s affection, Nandor attempts to fly into outer space, proclaiming himself the so-called king.
Elsewhere – Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and her human ghost trapped in an Annabelle like doll decide to switch bodies because the human ghost never took part in adult only activities when alive. The Guide (Kristen Schaal) assists with the switching of souls while energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) gets roped into said adult activities when he’s not reading up on future Jimmy Johns locations. And finally while all mayhem breaks loose (as it normally does within the vampire house), neighbor Sean (Anthony Atamanuik) is running for comptroller and decides to throw a pride parade (there’s the title) to gain support from a weaker point in his campaign, enlisting his neighbors in the cause.
With all that going on in a half hour episode including setting up the Sean campaign, the subplots begin to steal focus away from the episodes 1 and 2 throughline – Guillermo’s slow transformation into a vampire. Sure, Laszlo’s experimentation on Guillermo takes up majority of the time with speed trials and wing flaps however, there’s a Ted Lasso season 3 effect happening – reoccurring characters are getting more to do within the confines of the episode which takes time away from the main cast and their vampire exploits.
To play devil’s advocate against myself – it was only a matter of time that the vampires all took part in a pride parade. Something Laszlo is very excited about during Sean’s pitch to get them to choose the best shirt (the best is clearly “Yassss Sean”) that Laszlo takes on the burden of creating the float for the parade. A parade that happens after dark while no one questions the time. Going back an episode it’s amazing with how careless these vampires have become over the years that more people don’t realize vampires walk among them. But leave it to these vampires to be completely clueless about pop culture references or general 21st century terms but Laszlo still has the ability to recognize Blade and reference David Bowie.
Every week the hijinks these vampires get into seems to outdo itself from the week prior. And through it all the gimmick never loses steam or feels played out – from the hilarious talking heads to their blunt and naive curiosities, there are numerous things in this century that can be explored and with the added twist that these are century old beings out of time, the laughs keep the show as entertaining as the film. There needs no comparison to its source material, the show has been on par with the film and there is no slowing down in sight.
Within the episode, Laszlo and Nandor both conduct their own experiments to prove their housemates and vampire customs wrong. Director Yana Gorskaya gives us a lengthy POV shot while Laszlo has the idea to mix Guillermo’s sweat into a protective sunscreen that will allow him to walk outside in the sun. The absolute joy on both their faces as the two accomplish their goals is both priceless and precious given the childlike innocence mixed with raunchy dialogue and phallic behavior from Laszlo. Matt Berry can never get tired of making jokes about genitals on this show.
There’s still a majority of the season left to play out, no sense in hitting the panic button yet. And rarely does the series miss with providing a comedic experience balanced with emotional depth. Will Nandor find out that Guillermo was turned into a vampire and how will these newfound abilities shift the dynamic in the house? I cannot imagine Nador killing his familiar, because deep down there is an affection for Guillermo, Nandor comes from a period of time where any signs of opening up and expressing feelings. He is known as the ‘Relentless’.
What We Do in the Shadows season 5 came out swinging for the fences with finally giving Guillermo what he desires most and so far, the season has lived up to the expectations, a misstep or two not doing too much to slow momentum down. 5 season in and these characters still find ways to surprise us, proving that there are deep layers to unpack within their complex personality types and a bottomless mythology to grab inspiration from.
My guess is, the vampires are still counting the grains of rice one by one, against their will because that’s just what vampires do.
Created By: Jemaine Clement
Episodes Directed By: Yana Gorskaya
Music By: Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography: David A. Makin
Starring: Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, Mark Proksch, Kristen Schaal
Where to Watch: Hulu
Release Date: July 21, 2023
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Based On: What We Do in the Shadows by Jemanie Clement & Taika Waititi