How does a show based on a single conceit manage to stay so incredibly fresh and downright funny? That’s the question that probably only Jemaine Clement, the creator of FX’s vampire mockumentary series What We Do in the Shadows, can answer. Well, he and his collaborator Taika Waititi. I, personally, think it is the writing.
Clement and Waititi together directed, wrote and starred in the 2014 film of the same name. The movie and the show follow the same format — the daily lives of a bunch of vampires are filmed by an unseen crew. The laughs are derived from the characters mocking everything under the sun, including the genre’s conventions, the clumsy attempts of these anachronistic vampires to adjust to 21st-century life and the general silliness of life.
Only, the setting has changed from New Zealand’s Wellington suburb to the New York City borough of Staten Island. And, of course, it features brand new characters.
The TV series chronicles the ‘life’ of three centuries old, powerful vampires — Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou). There is one other vampire, Colin Robinson, who feeds on the energy of humans by boring them. Ouch.
It falls on Harvey Guillén’s adorable and sweet Guillermo De la Cruz, Nandor’s familiar, to do practically everything for them, starting from opening the coffin in which they sleep to bringing them gullible humans.
What We Do in the Shadows is my favourite TV show at the moment. The acting remained top-notch in the second season. Natasia as Nadja was my favourite in the inaugural season, and this time, as well, she shone the brightest as the sassy, unapologetically hypersexual vampire and the sole female of the house.
Guillén’s Guillermo also emerged as a man who took his fate in his hands instead of just doing a thankless job for his overlords. The actor does a sublime job in bringing out the resentment of the character for not being made a vampire even after years of service and numerous promises.
As I said, There is no reason What We Do in the Shadows should work more than one episode. But it does, and the second season is even better. The writing is absolutely phenomenal this time around as well. If The Office is ever rebooted as is rumoured, I would love this creative team to helm the project. These guys and girls have mastered the mockumentary format.