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FX’s Hilarious What We Do in the Shadows Is Like The Real World With Vampires

3 minute read

From novels to comics to headlines, the insatiable content maw that is television in the 2010s keeps sucking up dubious source material from every available medium—and movies are no exception. But don’t hold that against What We Do in the Shadows, which has cried out for a TV adaptation since the 2014 film by the same name. Directed by two of its stars, Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilder­people), the mockumentary about slacker roommates who also happen to be vampires was like an uproarious, super­natural Real World.

With Clement and Waititi on board as executive producers—and on hand to write and direct some episodes—FX’s comedy treatment is even more fun. Premiering on March 27, it relocates the lair from the creators’ home country of New Zealand to exotic Staten Island and switches up the cast of vamps: Decadent Laszlo (Matt Berry), whose hobbies include erotic topiary sculpture, and his enchantress beloved Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) are campy twists on well-worn Gothic archetypes. Their nominal leader is Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), an out-of-touch erstwhile Ottoman warrior whose human familiar (Harvey Guillén) is desperate to be “turned.”

The loose plot is set into motion when a powerful Nosferatu type visits the crew and discovers that, hundreds of years into a mission to conquer the New World, they’ve made zero progress. Their attempts to make up for lost time catalyze encounters with werewolves, local Staten Island politicians, live-action role-playing enthusiasts (including one played by an amusingly naive Beanie Feldstein from Lady Bird) and a crew of hip Manhattan bloodsuckers led by Nick Kroll. Yet Shadows thrives on characters and droll dialogue more than story.

In fact, what gives the show an edge over the movie is the addition of an instantly familiar new species: an “energy vampire” who drains his victims of life force without so much as breaking their skin. Day-walking milquetoast Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch, a.k.a. Nate on The Office) is a fount of inane factoids and a lover of pointless bureaucracy, torturing the sitting ducks at his cube-farm office with such polite threats as: “Remind me to email you a Slate article on the millennial housing crisis.” Nobody is more exhausting­—except maybe the self-­dramatizing emotional vampire (Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer) who invades Colin’s turf in one very funny episode.

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