What We Do in the Shadows poster

What We Do in the Shadows

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What it’s about:

What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary series that follows a household of vampires living in a human world with just as much inflated drama as any unscripted show, namely reality’s godfather, The Real World. An energy vampire and a “familiar” also live with the three main undead bloodsuckers who call the shots in the house.

Names you might know:

Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Concords, Moana) adapted this series from the film by the same name, which he co-wrote and co-directed with Taika Waititi. While Clement, Waititi, and Jonny Brugh starred in the feature, this series features a new cast of vamps, anchored by Matthew Barry (The IT Crowd, Toast of London), Kayvan Novak (Men in Black International), and Natasia Demetrio ( Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga).

You can expect some fun guest appearances, past ones include Nick Kroll, Beanie Feldstein, and Craig Robinson, plus some amazing cameos in the first season that are too good to spoil.

Why it’s worth your time:

It’s a hilarious catharsis for the relatable day-to-day problems that arise between co-workers, housemates, and family members using vampires in ridiculous situations. Even though the specifics for these fish-out-of-water immortals—such as relationship management of a needy familiar or maneuvering the swindling tactics of a necromancer—are nothing of this world, the cadence of delivery and character commitment make the scenes feel all too … familiar (and you can count on jokes like that delivered with perfect self irreverence to make a moment of stupidity very funny).

The chemistry of the main group, Laszlo (Barry), his wife Nadja (Demetrio), and Nandor (Novak) alongside Nandor’s familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), and energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksh)—who feeds off the energy he drains from people while droning on about mundane topics—allows for a seamless buy-in of thousand-year-old vampires blending into the human environment around them. And when they are not bickering with each other over mundane issues such as the existence of ghosts or how to properly prepare for an epic vampire orgy, they offer insights via a straight-to-camera device that’s so well done it doesn’t get old, despite all those years of seeing it on The Office and other similar shows. And while they all have their “confessional” moments, Guillermo seems to be closest to the audience, playing the part of a human servant wishing for the chance to become a vampire—probably strikes a chord with some personal assistants out there.

The production’s consistent adherence to mock-documentary format, rife with handheld camera movements, crash zooms, and a lot of fast cuts to Guillermo for a reaction shot, elevates the comedy. In one episode the crew is even incorporated into the narrative, intentionally cutting audio at points for the finished episode.

The takeaway:

What We Do in the Shadows commits to the mockumentary bit in every possible way, allowing you to easily invest in these weirdos. And part of the fun is unpacking all the ways they map over quotidian quibbles with vampiric specifics.

Watch it with:

The mostly self-contained episodes allow you to jump in at any point, and the writers deftly weave in callbacks and series runners—like Nadja’s centuries-long side dish Gregor—in a way that gets you up-to-speed quickly to enjoy the joke. And if you want to catch all the nuance of its spot-on execution of docuseries parody along with some silliness, grab a beer, sit back and prepare to laugh more than you don’t.

Worth noting:

Originally, the mansion where the main characters live was a historical landmark from the early 1900s where It and other horror productions have been shot. But after enough complaints from neighbors, the owners sold the property. For the second season, production built a facade on their set based in Toronto.

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