“What We Do in the Shadows” is an American mockumentary comedy horror television series that is based on the 2014 film of the same name. Unlike most other small-screen adaptations of acclaimed movies, this show about vampires manages to stake its claim in the crowded television landscape and leaves audiences thirsting for more.
The TV show, which premiered in March 2019 on FX, follows the same premise as that of the movie: a documentary crew captures the lives of several vampires who are living in a suburban neighbourhood.
Think of The Office combined with centuries of vampire lore and you’ll have a good idea of what’s in store. New viewers will be delighted by the hilarious exploits of medieval age vampires navigating modern life. Fans of the movie, on the other hand, will realize their sense of skepticism about TV adaptations cannot ward away the charm of these fanged creatures.
Creators Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi manage to ensure their television adaptation is fresh but not just by transporting the setting from New Zealand to Staten Island. They understand their movie has become a cult comedy classic. So rather than repeat any of the jokes, they set about expanding the universe of the franchise.
We are introduced to new characters, hilarious backstories, and intricate details of supernatural beings such as werewolves and witches. And perhaps there is no better example of the ingenuity of the show than the introduction of the key character Colin Robinson, who isn’t your traditional vampire. He’s an energy vampire.
There is a great episode in which Colin Robinson explains how he derives energy by trolling people on social media. It’s a brilliant satire about how we interact online, one that manages to make viewers laugh while providing much required social commentary.
Though every episode is around 25 minutes and focuses on a particular plot point, there is also a broader story arc that unfolds throughout an entire season. This ensures that we are both entertained by and invested in these characters and what happens to them.
“What We Do in the Shadows” manages to do the impossible.
It attracts a brand-new audience of American viewers without having to dumb itself down and alienate existing fans of the franchise. It fleshes out a new world without requiring audiences to already know the backstory. And it rewards those who do with ingenious new additions that remind them that TV adaptations need not be derivative.
Watching these vampires deal with spam email will make you laugh as well as reassure you that creativity too can be an immortal force immune to the change of time.