Norma Tanega’s acoustic guitar begins to bounce, the tambourine claps… You’re dead! You’re dead! You’re dead! You’re dead! And outta this world! Delightfully devilish, might I add, and you know what’s begun: Season 2 of What We Do in the Shadows. Nandor, Nadja and Laszlo are back. What a time to be alive — meaning no offense to the undead lot, that is.
Adapted from the original film’s Kiwi sensibilities onto the suburban streets of Staten Island, Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement’s rather unholy Godchild, has, indeed, got its second run in the TV spotlight, and the world’s all the better for it. Particularly in times like these, a bit of humour goes down a long way. And, that is, particularly when it’s about vampires prancing about in big wofty capes caught between doing house chores and hunting virgins.
I’d fight anyone who doesn’t agree that What We Do in the Shadows‘ first season was one of the best things to hit our screens this past decade, and, let’s not beat around the bush here: I’ll fight anyone who doesn’t agree that its second season is at least equally as brilliant. In fact, a nice spot of fisticuffs could be quite fun, so you’d better be prepared.
Season 1 had everything. It put Matt Berry (Laszlo) and Natasia Demetriou (Nadja), both comedy geniuses and charmers in equal regard (see The IT Crowd, Stath Lets Flats, Toast of London, etc. for starters) together, and got Four Lions‘ Kayvan Novak (Nandor) in on it for good measure. With such talent and charisma on display and with such comic legends as Clement and Waititi at the writing helm, it was a sure-fire recipe for success. Smacking ’em in Staten Island for a wonderfully subdued take on New York’s usual hustle and bustle was an underappreciated way these guys got it right. Melding dark humour of the bloodiest variety with that mellow setting and the cast’s dated methods — it was utter genius, from start to finish.
But how to follow it up? How to keep it fresh? Letting it grow stale was always a risk. But if this consumerist society has taught me anything, more is better, right? In the case of this wonderfully wicked series, that’s certainly true. What Taika and co. have gotten so heinously spot on in this sophomore set is that they’ve not rocked the boat too much; they’ve kept it true to its beginnings, but they’ve noodled with the golden formula just enough so that it remains familiar but more than enough to keep it fresh like the tastiest virgin incel blood you can get your fangs on.
Indeed, we get more than our necessary fill of getting to know the main three vampires and their relationships better, but Guillermo (Nandor’s familiar) and his Van Helsing adventures shovel some very welcome spice into proceedings, whilst the supernatural boundaries are pushed further and further. We’ve got Benedict Wong as a money savvy necromancer, a familiar-come-zombie, semen-stealing witches, and even a passing Badabook. Awesome gothic imagery: Enhanced. Spicy times indeed.
The world of What We Do in the Shadows, suddenly, seems much bigger than Staten Island and it’s immediate surroundings. If the first season did a great job at introducing the titular vampires and their exploits, then the second season has done a fantastic job at expanding the lore, so to speak. With such aforementioned supernatural expansions, it feels grander, and a little more debauched, even, whilst we’re given a greater (and funnier) insight into the life of a familiar, vampire hunter, and — here’s the KICKER — Colin Robinson.
Oh yes. Everyone’s favourite energy vampire – a wonderfully playful take on that boring guy at work – gets some more screentime and story significance, and we are lapping it UP. His post-promotion power has to be seen to be believed, in all its majestic almighty beauty, and his quips are just as hilarious as ever, albeit with a greater, hugely appreciated, impact and supply.
True too, through the tying in of Colin Robinson’s delightfully mundane excursions as much as Laszlo’s brief stint as a human barman in Pennsylvania, we’re taught more about the vampires’ life alongside normal mankind. Creatively playing at themes of old people trying to get the hang of modern technology by swapping your grandmother with an insatiably horny age-old undead being, too, is as fascinating as it is funny.
Still, as much as I’ve enjoyed trying my hand at hellish puns with you today, at the end of the day there’s little else I can say here than: Watch this. Watch this now. The diabolical, perverted, wanton practices of everyone’s favourite vampire crew yet again make addictive, gloriously entertaining watching. It’ll probably help if you, like me, have a concerning inclination for this type of thing, but alas, this is likely the best thing you’ll see on TV this year. May the debate go on for ages to come as for who’s the best vampire. I say Nandor.