TV REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows, Season 2 (BBC/FX)

Harvey Guillen as Guillermo De la Cruz (left), Kayvan Novak as Nandor the Relentless (right).
Season 2, Episode 1: Resurrection. Credit: FX

The Waititi-Clement vampire world is expanded once more, with a second season to the widely loved mockumentary series

What We Do in the Shadows returned to screens last month. The show follows the lives of three vampires who have been roommates for hundreds of years, who now reside in the modern day Staten Island. The series archives their day to day lives, recorded by a documentary crew. Season 1 (2019) was heavily inspired by the original What We Do in the Shadows mockumentary film, following many of its storylines and character structures, it has since moved away from its roots in the second season. Every storyline in season two felt fresh and original, answering the what ifs of the Waititi-Clement vampire world.

The outstanding returning cast bring their A-game for season 2

Harvey Guillen returns as Guillermo, vampire familiar in servitude of Nandor the Relentless (portrayed by Kayvan Novak). Guillermo acts very much as the everyman character, who centres the absurdist shenanigans of his vampire co-stars. Matt Berry’s (The IT Crowd, Toast of London) quavering sophisticated voice still leaves me convinced that he was born to play the role of Laszlo. Additionally this season Berry gets to play ‘normal human man’ Jackie Daytona, with his blue jeans and toothpick. Of course in the shows’ creative absurdity, this works as a functional disguise, when evading new character, Jim the Vampire, portrayed in a cameo by Mark Hamill (Star Wars). Natasia Demetriou as Nadja has some great moments this season. My favourite being in Episode 9: Witches, where she has to save both Nandor and her husband Laszlo from a group of witches, whilst both Colin and Guillermo slowly drive her insane.

Mark Proksch as Colin Robinson in Season 2, Episode 5: Colin’s Promotion.
Credit: FX

The outstanding episode for me was episode 5, Colin’s Promotion. The episode showcases a shift in power within the group, as Colin Robinson (played by Mark Proksch), the mundane resident energy vampire, gains excessive and extensive power after he receives a promotion. The episode thrives in its tilting of the main group dynamic and the many repercussions of it. It also highlights the show’s greatest premise of the supernatural attempting to house the mundanity of modern and mortal life, with most of the episode occurring in an office workspace. Everything feels as if it is happening in plain sight. This raises the idea that due to the craziness of the modern world, the existence of Vampires would be overlooked swiftly or met with bored surprise, making the show all the more fitting for the mockumentary style.

The market of comedy is clustered, so why look to the Shadows?

What We Do in the Shadows never feels slow, yet it doesn’t rush you. Where even the original film took dips into some extended sections of downtime, the TV format becomes a perfect solution. The episodes last no longer than the magic 23-minute mark. My golden rule being: No episode of comedy is to last longer than 23 minutes unless it is a double, special, pilot or finale.

What We Do in the Shadows is a show where you don’t feel yourself questioning who is on screen. Every actor puts in the work and brings the whole piece to life. It’s not frustrating when the storyline switches because the secondary story is as entertaining as the primary. Strength all round is a rare thing to have in modern TV and especially in the clustered market of comedy, but Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok) and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords, Moana) have knocked it out the park with the show’s second season. I cannot recommend it enough.


You can watch What We Do in the Shadows here (BBC iPlayer, requires a TV license):
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m0005bky/what-we-do-in-the-shadows

Adam Zak Hawley

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