A look into the daily lives of four vampires who’ve been together for hundreds of years; after a visit from their dark lord and leader, they’re reminded of their purpose in coming to New York City over a century ago.
Wasn’t it Dante who said that hell is other people?If you’re this tired of your family or roommates during COVID-19, imagine being roommates with them forever. What We Do in the Shadows (like the movie, but better) follows three vampire roommates throughout their nightly antics. Basically, it’s deathly pale Real World meets a Ken Burns documentary, but with more casual murder.
Nandor the Relentless is a warrior from the Ottoman Empire, Nadja is a DTF matriarch from ancient Greece (and their voice of semi-outdated reason), and Laszlo is an English dandy as well as Nadja’s consort/husband/whatever. (I mean, like the guys I dated in my 20s once said, who really needs labels when it’s about feelings?) They live together in glamorous Staten Island, along with Nandor’s human familiar Guillermo and energy vampire Colin Robinson.
As you might imagine, being a centuries-old vampire in the modern world is hard enough. You know how we’re all having trouble keeping track of the sheer amount of crap we have had to wade through daily in the last four years? They’ve had hundreds, if not thousands, of years to get through. Is it any wonder that the main trio still wear clothes from their glory days and don’t quite understand human quirks, like crepe paper?
As for Guillermo, the human familiar, all he really wants is to become a vampire, too. Ten years into his servitude to Nandor, he thinks that maybe—maybe!—this is the year he’ll be turned. And Colin Robinson? Even though he is the perfect metaphor for that person whose emails you dread (you know who I’m talking about), deep down, he really just wants to belong.
If the first episode doesn’t bowl you over, stick with it for at least a couple more. Over the two existing seasons, the story and character development become so pitch perfect that I actually shrieked, “HOW WAS THAT SO GOOD?” at the end of the Season 2 finale. And good news—FX has signed up for Season 3.
Kayvan Novak as Nandor
Just FYI, this is what Kayvan Novak looks like when he’s not Nandor.
Matt Berry as Laszlo Cravensworth
Natasia Demetriou as Nadja
Harvey Guillén as Guillermo de la Cruz
Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson
There are some delightful cameos, but I’m not spoiling them.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Strap In, Buddy, We’re Going for a Ride
You need to watch this with your friends or family. There are multiple levels of humor (sly, deadpan, over-the-top) as well as legitimately fantastic storytelling. I edit and pitch stories professionally as part of my literary agent job, and some of these episodes—as well as Season 2’s overall arc—are so pitch perfect that I want to cry. Things you thought were throwaway jokes become important later. Character development happens while you’re weeping with the latest “lol these vampires are old” gag, relentless social commentary or hilarious cameo.
Keep in mind that vampires are not averse to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll (there’s an orgy episode, but it’s basic cable—the worst you’ll see is a bare butt) nor talking about it, so be prepared for this to generate some awkward stories about how your parents-in-law accidentally ended up at a key party one time.
Basically, if your friends and family don’t watch this with you, they’re going to get so annoyed by your references and jokes that they’ll eventually watch it just to get you to shut up. And isn’t any victory a good one, this year?
Recommended Level of Inebriation: They’re Drinking, So Why Shouldn’t We?
For the most part, I think you can take a shot each time someone dies (and I mean really dies) and be on the right track. But I would suggest a nice full-bodied red to get in the spirit.
Use of Your Hulu Subscription: Have You Even Been Listening to Me?
I happen to know I’m not the only person born in the 1980s who grew up on a steady diet of Christopher Pike and L.J. Smith and decided that everything would really be better if one was a vampire. Like, there are dozens of us! Dozens! I really liked the idea of being young and beautiful forever (L.J. Smith led me to believe that the vampire-turning process would render me preternaturally beautiful even though I was your average zitty sixteen-year-old), so I could see and do all the things I wanted to do and knew that one lifetime could not contain.
And then 2016 and 2020 happened, so I think I’m pretty cool with my finite lifespan, although I’d do bad, bad things for my teenage metabolism and a hoard of gold like noted dragon Jeff Bezos. But bad like “oops I stole this shiny top from Wet Seal” and not “I’m trying to suppress the vote and the wages of the American people for the benefit of billionaires.” You know?
What We Do in the Shadows will remind you of the Before Times—and I do mean the Before Before Times—where life was a strange amusing anomaly. If you’re tired of the constant shit that 2020 is flinging at us, take a moment to escape into a wholly human—even if they’re undead—landscape. I guarantee you’ll find some reason to appreciate being alive. If we can laugh, we can go on.