The FX series What We Do In The Shadows has been one of television’s not-quite-hidden gems for a while now, earning critical acclaim and awards for each of its first two seasons while maintaining a modest but steady audience across both its home network and the Hulu streaming service. For a mockumentary horror-comedy series about four vampires “living” in Staten Island, starring a group of lesser-known (albeit accomplished) actors, that’s an impressive achievement — particularly when more traditional, scripted dramas and sitcoms tend to dominate conversations about TV.
Maybe even more impressive, however, is that What We Do In The Shadows has managed to keep its unique premise and format feeling fresh with each new season, and continues to deliver plenty of laughs, twists, and quotable moments as the series heads into its third season September 2.
Digital Trends got an early look at the first four episodes of Season 3, and the series continues to be one of the most smartly scripted, funny, and wonderfully acted shows on TV as it kicks off another 10-episode season.
The story so far
Created by Jemaine Clement and based on Clement and Taika Waititi’s 2014 film of the same name, What We Do In The Shadows follows three classic vampires –Nandor (played by Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) — who share a home with “energy vampire” Colin (Mark Proksch) and Nandor’s human familiar, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén).
Spoiler alert, plot details ahead: Across the series’ first two seasons, Guillermo helped the bloodsucking housemates acclimate to the modern world while coping with all manner of challenges, both personal and supernatural. And in season 2’s final, gore-filled episode, Guillermo was forced to reveal his lineage as an ancestor of famous vampire killer Abraham Van Helsing as he slaughters a theater full of vampires.
Season 3 of What We Do In The Shadows has the core group of characters deal with the ramifications of Guillermo’s actions, as they find themselves in a new position within the vampire community, and explore more of the weird, wonderful, and mundane elements of the human world (with some help from Guillermo, of course).
After spending much of the series’ first season getting audiences acclimated to the vampires’ relationship to the world around them, the second season of What We Do In The Shadows gave Guillermo more of the spotlight as he struggled to reconcile his desire to become a vampire with the revelation of his vampire-killing bloodline. Season 3 of the series continues to develop his character and his role within the show’s ensemble, and this evolution takes some surprising forms as the season gets rolling.
Guillén deserves praise for the part he’s carved out for himself in the series, particularly in an ensemble filled with scene-stealing, charismatic comedic actors who thrive in the show’s loose structure, which leans more heavily on the actors’ performances than its mythology or narrative. He continues to serve as the audience’s surrogate in the series’ world of vampires, werewolves, and witches, and manages to strike the perfect balance between showing the sort of shock and incredulousness we can all relate to when presented with the realities of the vampires’ world while also pushing his own character’s story arc forward to some interesting and unexpected places.
As the group’s vaguely defined, but always entertaining “energy vampire,” Proksch also gets a bit more of the spotlight in the third season as his character, Colin, copes with his impending 100th birthday. Not only does the show keep things fresh by exploring a bit more about what it means to be an energy vampire, but Colin also gets more time to shine alongside the traditional vampires. An episode that pairs him with Berry’s lascivious bloodsucker Laszlo is a standout, showcasing the best of what both actors bring to their respective characters, and Proksch does well with the extra focus he’s given in the season.
Berry delivers the sort of hilarious, infinitely quotable moments we’ve come to expect from him in season 3, and both Novak and Demetriou also get some well-deserved episodes for Nandor and Nadja, respectively, that continue to showcase their talents and add more depth to their characters. What We Do In The Shadows has plenty of great attributes, and among the best of them might be the fact that the series finally turned a wider audience on to Berry, who has been offering up this level of entertainment for years now in shows like The IT Crowd, Toast of London, and the criminally underappreciated Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh.
Not dead yet
It would’ve been easy for What We Do In The Shadows to drain its initial setup for entertainment value until the premise got too boring or too predictable to drag out any further, but the series’ creative team keeps finding ways to balance the familiar with fresh twists, intriguing new characters, and unexpected paths for its recurring characters to take.
What We Do In The Shadows walks a line between the surreal and the supernatural that few shows have been able to handle for one season, let alone three, with a cast and creative team that make the feat look far too easy. Heading into the new season, the bar was set high after two seasons of critical acclaim, but the first four episodes make it clear that fans don’t have to worry about What We Do In The Shadows losing any of its bite in season 3.
Season 3 of What We Do In The Shadows premieres September 2 on FX and the following day on Hulu.