Based on the original movie of the same name, What We Do In The Shadows continues to serve as a worthy successor to its cinematic predecessor. The spin-off series follows a group of vampires as old as civilization itself, who’ve found themselves planted down in the modern-day Staten Island. The third season picks up just a month after the second ended, reeling from the events of the finale. The first two episodes of the series dropped on FX and Hulu a few days ago, with future new episodes to air first on FX Thursdays. It’s great to see that the third season of this macabre comedy took some excellent and creative moves that elevated not just the premise of the series but the characters themselves, with the show continuing to improve season after season.
The second season’s finale saw the vampire group invited to the Nouveau Théâtre des Vampires, an exclusive event that only the most high profile of vamps get an invite to. Upon their arrival Nadja, Nandor, and Laszlo (Natasia Demetriou, Kayvan Novak, and Matt Berry) are arrested and put on trial for killing some of their own kind earlier in the season – a trick some folks as old as them should’ve seen coming. The group is saved when their familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), swoops in and saves the day, embracing his roots as a descendant of the Van Helsing vampire hunters and massacring some of the most notorious and prominent vampires in the community.
This is where the series begins to shift into a new and brilliant direction. In the premiere episode of season three, after some morbid yet funny debate about what to do with their vampire killing familiar, the group is praised for such brutality and mercilessness by Vampiric Council spokesman (Taika Waititi) and promoted to be the newest vampire council alongside the Eastern Seaboard. This choice quite literally opens doors for the group and welcomes new paths and storylines, making the show itself feel like a vampire – not that it died, but that it’s being able to find a new life that is even better than it was before.
While the show was already pretty well made, there’s a noticeable improvement on the set design and production value as the show in certain spaces looks quite beautiful and very well put together. The show embraces the Gothic nature of its characters and brings to life this sense of the Old World from where these characters come from, along with the outfits, these capes, and old European-esque outfits that make them feel like people out of time.
One of the show’s best features is by far its characters, who do the absolute most with their chaotic personalities. They are just so different from each other, that it brings such an interesting dynamic to the series that will always leave you wondering how this imbalance between each other will directly affect the outcome of whatever scenario is the flavor of the week. With these mockumentary-type shows and sitcoms in general, it’s easy to get caught in that one-and-done frame of mind with an episode and have your characters move on and not change from that, sorta like how The Office handled things. But What We Do in The Shadows is much more of a Parks and Recreation type series. Not only does it respect its characters, it lets them learn from their past and continue to develop. The standout here is Harvey Guillén’s Guillermo Del La Cruz. The character was the butt of the joke from the very beginning, always fawning over Nandor and the other vamps, just wanting to fit in and move on from being a familiar, yearning to be turned into a vampire. It’s been the most interesting part of the show quite frankly, watching Guillermo develop into a much stronger and independent vampire hunter. His development has finally shown those around him like Nandor, Nadja, and Laszlo that he could be an integral part of their team. While they’ve only “promoted” him to be a bodyguard, so far this season, it’s still great to see a silly character developed into a much more serious and integral part of the show. Even if Guillermo doesn’t realize it yet.
What We Do In The Shadowsfeels like one of those sitcoms that only comes around every once in a while, and is able to stand out from the rest with its outlandish premise and chaotic characters that bounce off the walls to make each episode something special. It’s great to see the series only get better and better as the characters progress just as much as the story does, keeping things much more linear than other sitcoms are able to.
You can catch the whole series on Hulu, and new season three episodes on FX first on Thursdays.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written by John Sabato.]