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The Indiana Daily Student

arts review

COLUMN: 'What We Do in the Shadows' elegantly widens its scope in fourth season


The fourth season of “What We Do in the Shadows” aired its final episode Sept. 6. The Hulu comedy follows four vampire roommates and their familiar-turned-bodyguard on Staten Island as they attempt to navigate the human world. The show is based on the 2014 film of the same name.  

Both the film and the show use the mockumentary format to excellent effect. The characters often have to explain and justify the presence of a human film crew among the vampire community, resulting in the occasional death of a crew member. If the premise wasn’t enough to stand on, spectacular performances and tight writing have made “What We Do in the Shadows” a joy to watch.  

The end of the show’s third season set the stage for a number of developments that come to fruition. The season three finale saw two of the vampires, Nandor (Kayvan Novak) and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), as well as their human bodyguard, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen), traveling overseas.  

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Perhaps the episode’s most shocking revelation is Laszlo’s (Matt Berry) discovery of a baby having crawled out of their fourth roommate Colin Robinson’s corpse. Colin, played by Mark Proksch, is an energy vampire who feeds on the boredom of others. 

“Baby Colin,” as he’s come to be known, steals the show in the fourth season. Despite his off-putting appearance — with Proksch’s face grafted onto a child actor through CGI — the character is charming and funny. He moves rapidly through the stages of life, ending the season as the Colin Robinson audiences had come to know previously.  

When Nadja sets her sights on opening a vampire nightclub, baby Colin’s love for musical theater turns profitable, as vampires, invariably and inexplicably, love child novelty acts. The showrunners’ willingness to play with and stretch the traditional vampire rules often allows them easy ways to resolve conflicts, but this aids the show’s chaotic and mysterious tone.  

The documentary format gives the show an “outside-looking-in” vibe, which allows these decisions to come across as humorous rather than lazy. It acknowledges the audience is human while the players are not, and as such, we can’t fully understand them. 

In the season’s most ambitious and idiosyncratic move, the vampires participate in “Go Flip Yourself” in the eighth episode, a reality TV show playing off of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” which Laszlo can be seen watching at various points. The show even included an ad for the fictional reality show in an earlier episode and structured the entire eighth episode as if it were the vampires’ episode of “Go Flip Yourself.” 

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As to be expected, the situation quickly falls out of control, with Nadja killing one of the brothers as soon as they arrive and having to hypnotize the rest of the crew into believing him to be sick. Although the whole thing turns out to be a ruse set up by their adversary Simon the Devious (Nick Kroll), the overall incongruity of the situation is perfect. The show in its entirety leans into the tropes of a documentary, and to abruptly interrupt that and substitute it for an entirely different set of reality TV tropes is a hilarious move. 

With “What We Do in the Shadows” picking up momentum and buzz, it’s no wonder that the showrunners could make bold choices in their fourth season. It gradually widens its reach while remaining light and entertaining enough to keep viewers interested and up to speed. The progression to this point hasn’t exactly been cautious, but the show’s fourth season takes risks that pay off and promise more in the future. 

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