Who would have thought that a spin-off of a New Zealand cult classic horror-comedy would become one of the most acclaimed comedy shows on television? But here we are — FX’s fifth season of What We Do in the Shadows is premiering on the network, and while it’s not the peak of the show’s quality, it’s still plenty entertaining.
Season 5 follows everyone’s favorite vampire gang as they continue to get into mischievous deeds on Staten Island. Nandor (Kayvan Novak) struggles to deal with his familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) slipping away, as Guillermo turns to Lazlo (Matt Berry) for advice. Meanwhile, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) struggles to connect with her community, as Colin Robinson (Mark Prosch) sets out to represent his own by running from office.
What We Do in the Shadows Season 5 is more of the same
Fans of the series will be happy to find that the show maintains much of its typical goofy humor. However, with the storyline involving Colin Robinson running for political office — no matter how trite that office may be — the show takes the opportunity to pack a bit more bite when it comes to its satire. Honestly, there has probably never been a better way to satirize bureaucracy than through the energy vampire lens.
What’s missing from this season is a great running gag to really push the season along. Admittedly, we were a bit spoiled with Season 4, which had two great concepts in baby Colin and the vampire nightclub. Although there are certainly some funny ideas, the more confined gags get the bigger laughs this season than the ones that are arching across episodes.
That said, it’s clear with each season that the budget is increasing, as this season contains some legitimately insane visual gags. The truth of the matter is that the starts of the season are rarely the strong suit of What We Do in the Shadows, as it takes time for each season to get its footing and establish its premise before all hell breaks loose in the writers’ room. By episode 4, you start to see the seeds of this being planted.
One of the most refreshing things about this season is that, finally, we get the chance to return our focus to Guillermo. Apart from Guillermo’s coming out storyline, he largely felt relegated to the rafters last season. This time, his arc takes center stage, as we deal with the aftermath of the final scene of last season’s finale.
In an interesting move, Kristen Schaal has been upgraded from recurring to series regular this season — not that it makes much of a difference, as she’s still little more than a sidekick to Natasia Demetriou’s Nadja. Still, our main quartet — Demetriou, Berry, Novak, and Proksch — are still game as always.
Of course, there are plenty of guest stars in this season, and as usual, they’re best left unspoiled. Episode 4 of the season contains some particularly juicy cameos, expanding an aspect of the world that many fans have been clamoring to see more of since the first season — and there’s plenty of room for this to be deepened over the rest of the season.
This new season of What We Do in the Shadows may not be quite as strong as the series-best Season 4, but the first four episodes show tons of potential and still offer plenty of laughs. One would think that the creators would be looking more at the big picture having an already-guaranteed sixth season, but they seem satisfied being self-contained — and fans will likely be okay with that.
What We Do in the Shadows debuts on FX on July 13th at 10pm ET/PT. Four out of ten episodes reviewed.