Absurd, grotesque, and weirdly hilarious. The Hulu series What We Do in the Shadows follows the daily lives of vampires living in present-day Staten Island. They’re cold, relentless killers with complete disregard for human life. They also don’t know how to pay rent.
Vampires Nadja, Lazlo, Collin, and Nandor have been roommates for centuries. Their living situation presents a host of frustrated roommate dynamics. Nandor complains of the half-drained bodies lying around the mansion. Nadja laments how everyone forgets to blow out the candles at night, and nobody can understand how to forward an email.
Then there’s Colin Robinson, a new type of vampire. Colin is an energy vampire who feeds by boring both people and vampires in long, painful conversations. Corporate life is his perfect hunting ground. Stalking the cubicles of unassuming office-workers, Colin engages in a banal, frustrating, meaningless conversation. He’ll talk about typography, various bus routes, or the origins of his deli sandwich. Before long, the human is drained, hunched over their desk, face smashed into the keyboard. Colin amusingly echoes the energy vampires in day-to-day life— the kinds of people who spew unprovoked details of their grandkids baseball team or cat’s surgery.
Despite believing themselves to be superior creatures, the vampires stumble through modern life. They’re rejected from clubs, ignored in local city council meetings, and don’t know how to navigate the bus system. In the second season, they attend a super bowl party, thinking they’re attending a grand party dedicated to the “superb owl.”
The series leans into the classic vampire tropes. They sleep in coffins, turn into bats, can’t go in the sun, and when upset, they throw their arms up in classic vampire fashion and hiss through their fangs. In many scenes, the vampires sit bashfully at the entrance of a public building, waiting to be invited in before entering. Pair this with the mockumentary format and deadpan humor, and the show is hard to forget. It’s ridiculous but it somehow works.
Part of the appeal is that the show takes itself way too seriously, adding to the humor of an undead immortal applying for US citizenship or accidentally getting caught by animal patrol while flying around as a bat. Vampires are perhaps one of the most overdone tropes in movies and television. However What We Do in the Shadows revives the undead in ways that are fresh, unexpected, and exciting. — Hannah Kendall
Photo: What We Do In The Shadows (Paul Tassi of Forbes Magazine)