What We Do in the Shadows is “TV’s funniest comedy”


The Emmys are batty over What We Do In The Shadows Season 2, now on Showmax

They’re going batty. Their house is a mess. They sleep all day. They can only go outside at designated times. They can’t smoke or drink (alcohol, that is). They live with boredom (literally: his name is Colin Robinson). And they’re useless at adulting. Oh, and social distancing is mandatory with these neighbours – getting too close could be fatal.

Lockdown is nothing new for the vampire housemates of What We Do in the Shadows (WWDITS), who’ve been doing this for a good couple of hundred years longer than the rest of us - plenty of time to get on each other’s nerves.

100% critics’ rating

Now streaming on Showmax, this magnificently silly mock-doc series showed its teeth with eight Emmy nominations for Season 2, including one for Best Comedy Series and three for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. It’s at #9 on Rotten Tomatoes’ Best TV of 2020 (So Far) list, with a 100% critics rating, and has been hailed as “TV’s best comedy” by The Hollywood Reporter, among others.

WWDITS has been cooked up by two mad genius comedy masterchefs: multiple Emmy nominee Jemaine Clement (Flight Of The Conchords) and 2020 Oscar winner Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok), who brought us the 2014 hit cult movie of the same name.

WWDITS stars BAFTA winners Kayvan Novak (Four Lions) and Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Toast of London) as Nandor the Relentless and Laszlo respectively. Sketch comedian Natasia Demetriou is Laszlo’s sultry sire, Nadja, while Mark Proksch (The Office, Better Call Saul) plays energy vampire Colin Robinson.

Watch the S2 trailer


The stakes are high in S2

But while the vamps flap and fuss in the foreground, it’s downtrodden little Guillermo, Nandor’s familiar, played by Harvey Guillén (The Magicians), who swoops into the spotlight in the new season.

Despite Nandor’s neglect, Guillermo remained doggedly loyal throughout the first season, living for the day his master would fulfil his promise and turn him into a vampire. But of course, that was never going to happen.

Then, in the Season 1 finale, a DNA analysis revealed a horrifying secret in Guillermo’s ancestry: Van Helsing!

This season, the discovery that he’s descended from the famed vampire slayer sets Guillermo off on a whole new ass-kicking, vamp-staking trajectory. But don’t worry, Guillermo’s still Guillermo.

In a remote panel hosted by Season 2 guest star and Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment (Future Man, The Sixth Sense) at the recent virtually-held San Diego Comic Con, Harvey admitted that he’s thrilled by this unexpected turn of events. “I’m really enjoying that Gullermo’s torn between what’s probably his destiny, and what he’s longing to be, and also the people who are complete a**holes to him sometimes, but he’s loyal to a tee. He still loves those housemates,” he said.

The other cast members, understandably, have their reservations. In a first look at Season 2, Matt says, “It’s high jeopardy. You’re now living with someone whose natural instinct is to kill you all.”

“Nandor needs Guillermo,” Kayvan admits. “No one else listens to a damn word Nandor says in the house. [But] now that this big reveal has happened, I have no idea how this relationship is going to evolve. Why would Guillermo stick around, now that, you know, he could kill Nandor?... I don’t know, I’m concerned.”

Harvey’s having a blast though. “I love it,” he says. “All the stunt stuff I did, I saw as a dance, so it was like... a five, six, seven, eight… I thought, ‘we’re just doing a musical’. And people have really been responding, especially people who are like, ‘Good, I like seeing someone who can kick ass who’s not just a stereotypical ‘round kid’.’ It’s been fun to get that feedback from fans.”

Feedback from the critics has been just as positive. As The Hollywood Reporter says, “Colin might be What We Do in the Shadows' most original character, but Guillermo, who may well have supplanted the vampires as the house's most formidable being, has become the series' wild card.”

Cameos are king

Something else that’s got the fans and the critics excited this season is the guest list. Season 1 set the tone with the Vampiric Council, which included cameos from Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, Dave Bautista, Danny Trejo and Wesley Snipes.

This season, look out for Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange, Deadly Class), Teen Choice nominee and Sundance Award winner Craig Robinson (The Office, Mr. Robot) and Greta Lee (Russian Doll, Inside Amy Schumer). Emmy-nominated comedian Nick Kroll is back as Simon the Devious, along with Clement himself as Vladislav, one of the original characters from the movie.

But the showstopper is Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, a huge WWDITS fan. In an interview with Vulture, Mark praised the show’s “sublime silliness,” saying, “To commit to that, and to play it like it’s drama, is just so satisfying. I’ve been doing that all my life. There were moments in Star Wars that were just so ridiculous, but we just played it like it was Hamlet.”

Writer-producer Stefani says she’s never seen the unflappable Lazlo, aka Matt, as giggly as when he did his scene opposite Mark. “You’ve got to understand what that was like,” Matt says. “It doesn’t matter how cool you think you are or how ‘in character’. You’re not. You’re seven years old, with Luke Skywalker right in front of you.”

With the whole world putting on its serious face right now (behind its mask, of course), silliness seems to be just the antidote we need. The Emmy nominations, the critics’ ratings and the audience figures all prove it. The new season’s viewership figures are up by 25% over Season 1, and the show has already been renewed for a third season.

“The best very dumb, very serious show on TV right now is What We Do in the Shadows,” says Vulture reviewer Kathryn VanArendonk. “Season two has been an amplification of everything I already loved about the show… a quartet of immortal, sociopathic horror creatures who can’t do their own laundry… Their blend of lethality and weakness… They are, bless their hearts, just the sweetest, dumbest monsters imaginable… but the real key to the series is the fifth member of their household, Guillermo. Where What We Do in the Shadows truly shines is in balancing vampire goofiness with Guillermo’s earnest tragedy. Guillermo’s sudden empowerment turns his subservience to Nandor into something fraught and unstable and oddly tender.”

IndieWire sums it up best though: “It’s just funny. Really, really, funny.“

Watch What We Do in the Shadows S1-2, First on Showmax.

Add Showmax to your DStv bill

DStv Premium subscribers get Showmax for free and DStv Compact Compact Plus pay only R49pm for the standard plan; that’s 50% off. Add Showmax to your DStv bill at showmax.com.

Feel every moment with DStv