Hurriedly recommending the best shows to watch right now in a breathless manner is almost cliche at this point (ask my friends), but boy do I have a recommendation for you. And while this show (which is available on Hulu right now) is most definitely a sitcom, this recommendation isn’t just for people who want a laugh.
This show takes a genre that was almost completely passé after being done to death in the previous years — vampires and similar mythical beasts — and breathes new life into the genre. Oh, and it’s from Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), and based on a film he made with comedic genius Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok).
By now, some of you have figured out the name of the game. But for all who have not (and those who have), it’s time for me to try and convince you to give What We Do in the Shadows a chance. Because this is a show that has me giddy for its impending return.
And the best news — and one of my top reasons for recommending What We Do in the Shadows — is that it’s not a show you should worry about getting canceled. Not only is its fourth season about to debut (the reason why I’m urging you to watch now), but we already know it’s coming back for more after that.
Why I love What We Do in the Shadows
In modern culture, vampires are such dreadfully serious characters. Immortality can turn you very emo, I guess. Just look at your Twilights and Interview with The Vampires. While some examples of vampires in pop culture (Grandpa on The Munsters) are comical, the world of vampire pop culture has been bereft of a funny bone for too long. Maybe there’s no blood in a funny bone, I don’t know.
But What We Do in the Shadows isn’t just a funny vampire show, it’s a hilarious program that just so happens to be about vampires (and those who have the misfortune of living around them). And, even more oddly, it’s about vampires who live in New York’s often-forgotten borough: Staten Island.
This household of blood-suckers is led by Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), who used to rule and kill back in his earlier days, but now he’s more of a drama-prone man-child who still doesn’t understand society around him. Nandor’s roommates include a married couple who never seem quite married: Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou).
They’ve also led very storied lives over the last centuries, and love talking about them. They’re all aided by Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén, who you might have seen in recent Geico commercials), Nandor’s ‘familiar’ (think: butler) who is desperate to be turned into a vampire.
Oh, and then there’s Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), who isn’t your father’s kind of vampire. He’s an “energy vampire” as his powers derive from emotionally draining people through boring or otherwise dreadful conversation. Proksch is arguably one of the more well-known cast members (outside of Berry) of the group, as he’s appeared in The Office and Better Call Saul.
So, why does this work, aside from the fact that sticking a bunch of childish vampires in Staten Island is a very inane and amusing idea to begin with? Well, Guillermo — or ‘Gizmo’ as his roommates call him — is the Lebowskian rug that ties the show together.
Put-upon to no end, he’s the audience’s surrogate for being shocked and confused about how weird these vampires are. You’d think after this many centuries they’d have come to understand what’s happening. But What We Do in the Shadows is fantastic at both creating these amusing weirdos and then giving them depth to make them lovable. For example, when Laszlo goes off on his weird adventures, you want him to really think about staying out there, despite the fact that he’s very much a child running away from home.
Why the critics love What We Do in the Shadows
Over its three seasons, if you believe in Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) scores, What We Do in the Shadows has only gotten better and better. Its overall 97% score is an average of season 1’s 94%, season 2’s 98% and season 3’s coveted perfect 100% score.
Emily Heller at Polygon (opens in new tab) called season 1 “a gosh darn delight.” David Bianculli of NPR (opens in new tab) said the first batch of episodes are “all so clever and genuinely amusing.” Rebecca Nicholson at The Guardian (opens in new tab) wrote that the series “is rambunctious, silly, dry and deadpan.”
More recent praise came from Nick Schager at The Daily Beast (opens in new tab) who said that What We Do in the Shadows has “the funniest cast (and writers) on TV,” Christopher Stevens at the Daily Mail in the UK (opens in new tab) called it “The best sitcom currently on the box,” and Melanie McFarland at Salon (opens in new tab) wrote that “The gothic, randy humor bouncing through What We Do In the Shadows makes it one of TV’s most reliable wellsprings of giddiness.”
Outlook: How to watch What We Do in the Shadows
What We Do in the Shadows seasons 1, 2 and 3 (all available on Hulu (opens in new tab)) are each comprised of 10 episodes that are about half an hour in length. That means you can watch one season in a weekend afternoon, and easily be caught up by the time the new season debuts on July 12.
My big warning, though, is that if you binge-watch WWDITS like I did, you’ll wind up spending a little more to upgrade to the ad-free Hulu ($12.99 per month (opens in new tab)) because you just want to watch the show and can’t stand waiting through ads.
Oh, and as mentioned above, FX already announced that What We Do in the Shadows is renewed for seasons 5 and 6. So, as I mentioned above, this isn’t a show you can even worry about getting canceled and taken away from you.