When it was originally on: 2019-present
Original network: FX
Where you can stream it now: Hulu
Had I seen it before: No, but I’d heard it discussed on the ATV Podcast.
What IMDb says: A look into the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of three vampires, who’ve lived together for over 100 years, on Staten Island.
Why I picked it: For one, basic cable half-hour shows are kind of slim pickings, and I knew I wanted some on The List. And among basic cable half-hour comedy shows, it’s even harder to find ones that are actually true comedies rather than just dramedy character study type stuff like Atlanta or You’re the Worst.
What We Do in the Shadows is a ridiculous mockumentary vampire show. Is it a little weird to see a 2019 show embracing both the mockumentary format and the vampire trend? Of course. But Taika Waititi is behind it, and after thoroughly enjoying Jojo Rabbit it seemed like it belonged on the list.
What I liked: There are definitely some good jokes in it, such as the crepe paper v. creepy paper gag, or the notion of “energy vampires” which drain energy rather than blood. The first episode proves that it has a good sense of humor. I have high hopes that once characters are established and the show can move on from exposition to simply being funny, it could be quite funny.
What I didn’t like: The show is a little too reliant on its mockumentary format to set up all of its characters. It seemed like for the majority of this pilot, I wasn’t actually watching stuff happen, I was watching people talk to a camera. If I wanted to watch someone recite the story’s premise and characters to me, I would find a book-on-tape. It’s also much harder to learn how our characters actually interact with each other when they spend just as much (if not more) time interacting directly with the audience.
I also wish it was more clear whether or not humans know vampires exist in this universe. It’s odd that the vampires will go out in public without changing their outfits or doing anything to conceal the fact that they are vampires. And yet, any humans they interact with seem oblivious. It seems like there could be a lot of comedic opportunity in the vampires trying to hide their life from everyone else, and the pilot squanders it by having them not even try.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: I do, but not necessarily because I thought the pilot was good. It just seems like the kind of thing you need to watch at least 3-4 episodes of before you can figure out if you like it or not.