Warning: This article may contain spoilers about What We Do in the Shadows.
To date, serial production has multiplied exponentially, reaching supply peaks never seen before, leading to major changes in terms of production, distribution and use of the episodes. One of the television narrative genres that seems to suffer the most from the consequences of the contemporary digital and socio-political context is undoubtedly that of comedies. In fact, it is not only affected by the new formats introduced by online streaming platforms, including releases of entire seasons in a single solution and constant incentives for compulsive use, but also by what is a new era of narrative and content receptiveness, in which humor seems to suffer from the point of view of creativity and the ability to adapt to a renewed attention to language and the viewer. Well, there are many serial comedies that fail to make their way in such a complex and competitive environment. Only in 2022, there are many unpublished comedy TV series that have not fully convinced us, ending up being overwhelmed by the competition, being relegated to a niche audience or even being cancelled. Pure comedies, those not hybridized with other trendy genres, are increasingly rare and hardly as captivating as the sitcoms that made us dream and laugh out loud in the past. Nonetheless, there are still some exceptions that give us hope and remind us that it is still possible to create something new in a context in which everything seems to have already been done.
This is also and above all the case of What We Do in the Shadwos, an irreverent comedy by FX on Hulu available in Italy on Disney+ and also broadcast free-to-air on Rai4.
What We Do in the Shadows it’s a tv series purely comical which, in the four current seasons available, uses the technique of mockumentary already used in other successful sitcoms (such as Modern Family e The Office) to tell the daily events of its grotesque protagonists. The peculiarity of the show lies precisely in those who move in it: a group of vampire centenarians who live in a cramped and ghostly house in a very modern in the Staten Island of the present day. The three vampires old-fashioned November (Kayvan Novak), Nadia (Natasia Demetriou) e Laszlo (Matt Berry), the talkative energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) and their familiar william of the cross (Harvey Guillén) therefore live together in a dusty and gigantic house that still seems to be insufficient, ending up not giving anyone their space and forcing boredom. It is precisely from the boredom of a long life that the protagonists give rise to the crazy everyday situations that are followed by the false documentary, in which they tell and confide, highlighting the obvious differences with modern reality. Though having lived through the ages, Nandor, Nadja and Laszlo look like not be changed together with time and society, remaining stuck in the identity of one’s time. Precisely for this reason, the unsuccessful attempts of the group of vampires to interact and integrate with the US urban reality are immediately awkward, out of place and hilarious.
Constantly served by the faithful familiar Guillermo, who wants nothing more than to be transformed into a vampire by his masters, the supernatural creatures of What We Do in the Shadows they are stuck in their own time, not fully grasping the new customs and values of the era in which they arrived. Individualistic, haughty and instinctive, Nandor, Nadja and Laszlo are anything but civilized, with instantly comical results.
Immersed in dark and ghostly atmospheres, the protagonists of What We Do in the Shadows they are far from terrifying. Through the confessions in the room and the awkward difficulties they have in adapting to the times, the characters they demystify the collective and media imagination wrapped around the figure of the dreaded vampires. Through the comedy’s signature humor, centennial creatures are brought ashore and rendered more human than ever, although they struggle to conquer their own humanity. They watch television, hang out in nightclubs, play sports. Yet they are also simultaneously involved in the traditional dynamics of their own reality between vampire councils, rituals and disagreements with other supernatural creatures. Nandor, Nadja, Laszlo, Colin and Guillermo are an unusual family followed by a television crew that seems to be the best way to tell about the irreverent vampires they do friction with today’s modernity. Between disagreements, passions and whims, the spoiled protagonists have to face a reality in which they are the outcasts and have lost any ability to influence and terror.
Already renewed even for a fifth and sixth season, What We Do in the Shadows is a flowing comedy, one of the striking examples of today’s comedy that manages to make its way despite everything. In itself, the concept of the story is not fully original: the TV series is a sort of spin off belonging to the franchise started by the 2014 New Zealand film of the same name created and directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. For the occasion, Waititi is also one of the executive producers of the show, also taking part as a guest star in some episodes of the first season. Nonetheless, What We Do in the Shadows manages to make the starting premises his own to return a story of undoubted comedy. The show is hilarious in providing a glimpse into the daily lives of creatures accustomed to killing and sucking blood that they end up lose any hint of sacredness and ghostliness. They appear to be individuals in costume as they wander around Staten Island, never being taken seriously by the locals, who end up treating them rather superficially as fanatics. Totally free from influence, Nandor, Nadja and Laszlo have to make do, constantly experiencing an irresistible comic duality.
The comedies are far from doomed.
Along with other titles, What We Do in the Shadwos tells his story by breaking the fourth wall, proving that it is still possible to make laugh out loud. The TV series defends itself very well, collecting the legacy of the famous sitcoms of the past and proposing a content of current times that has nothing to envy from the rest. Although in Italy it has not yet exploded among the general publicWhat We Do in the Shadows seems oriented in the right horizons, destined to be a cult of the reference genre thanks to the mixture of languages, situations and creativity that contribute to the sparkling, provocative and grotesque rhythm of a group of unusual protagonists that are anything but ghostly. It is precisely from the contrasts that emerge during their contacts with today’s Western society, that iconic scenes are born that make us love What We Do in the Shadows like few other comedy shows.
Leave a Reply