7 Ways ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Improved After Moving to TV

what we do in the shadows cast season 1
Russ Martin / ©FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

FX’s What We Do in the Shadows continues to deliver laughs, finding new ways to expand the universe introduced in Season 1 while maintaining the quirky tone that was established when the show debuted in 2019.

The zany concept isn’t as new and fresh as some viewers may think though, as the series is based on the 2014 film of the same title which starred Oscar-winner Taika Waititi as Viago, Jemaine Clement as Vladislav and Jonny Brugh as Deacon, a trio of vampire roommates living in New Zealand. Clement serves as the creator of FX’s series and executive produces alongside Waititi on the show which focuses on a different set of roommates based out of New York City’s lesser thought of borough — Staten Island.

Despite utilizing a similar premise within the same universe, the TV show has made the most of its longer format, improving upon some of the film’s (very few) shortcomings. Starring a highly talented cast of characters, Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Mark Proksch and Harvey Guillén haven’t lost a step in their comedy routine.

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows, 2014 (Credit:© The Orchard / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Below, we’re taking a look at a some of the ways in which the show improved upon concepts introduced in the film. Beware of spoilers if you’re not caught up on this delightfully strange series and keep an eye out for laughs when Season 3 arrives in the future.

What We Do in the Shadows, Seasons 1 and 2, Streaming now, FX on Hulu

What We Do in the Shadows Season 1 Episode 3
Russ Martin / ©FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

A Bigger Universe

In the film, vampires weren’t the only creatures lurking in the real world. Werewolves served as their primary antagonists throughout the story and this inclusion carried through to the series as well. In Season 1 there was an episode titled “Werewolf Feud” in which tensions flare after a werewolf gets caught in a bear-trap planted in the vampires’ backyard. But the creatures often found in horror don’t end with just vampires and werewolves in the series, there’s also been the inclusion of witches and zombies, expanding this world first established in the film.

What We Do in the Shadows - Natasia Demetriou
Byron Cohen / FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

Feisty Females

There’s no hiding that the 2014 film is essentially a boys club apart from Deacon’s (Brugh) familiar Jackie (Jackie Van Beek). In the show, the roommate mix includes Nadja (Demetriou) who keeps things interesting among her male counterparts — one of which is Berry’s Laszlo who is Nadja’s husband. Season 1 also included Beanie Feldstein as Jenna, a human whose life is changed when she encounters the Staten Island clan. There’s definitely room for more feisty females, but Nadja has plenty of bite to keep viewers laughing.

What We Do in the Shadows Mark Proksch
John P. Johnson / ©FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

What We Do In The Shadows

The newest series on the list, this FX comedy horror centers around a group of vampires in Staten Island who are trying to live in modern society. Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) is a member of the group who is able to walk around during the day, and while he works in the office, he literally drains others of energy just by boring them. The series will return for a third season.

Available on Hulu

What We do in the Shadows - Kayvan Novak, Harvey Guillen, Matt Berry - Nandor, Guillermo, Laszlo
John P. Johnson / FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

More Familiar

Introduced in the film, the concept of familiars involves humans who serve vampires with the hope of one day being turned themselves. While this was depicted in the relationship between Jackie and Deacon in the film, the show takes things up a notch with the relationship between Nandor (Novak) and Guillermo (Guillén). As the human familiar of Nandor, Guillermo does everything his master asks of him including the disposal of bodies, cleaning the house and searching for virgins that Nandor can feast on. When Guillermo discovers he has Van Helsing blood in Season 1 though, it makes for an interesting dilemma as fans see him reconsider his lifestyle in Season 2. The series also shares glimpses of other familiars, revealing just how common the practice is in the Shadows universe.

What We Do in the Shadows - Nandor and Guillermo - Kayvan Novak and Harvey Guillen
John P. Johnson / ©FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

Real-World Understanding

While Nadja, Laszlo and Nandor have experience in the world, Viago, Vladislav and Deacon from the film seemed to fit in better with their modern surroundings. Part of the show’s fun is that Nadja, Laszlo and Nandor stick out like sore thumbs especially when they’re next to Guillermo and Colin who are constantly present in society. Some particularly funny moments in the series have included Nandor’s visit down the craft aisle in a grocery store as well as the vamps’ introduction to email chain spam in Season 2. Essentially anytime these roommates are forced to fit into the human world, like attending a neighbor’s Super Bowl party or running a dive bar, it’s comedy gold.

Nick Kroll in What We Do in the Shadows - 'Manhattan Night Club'
Russ Martin / FX / Courtesy Everett Collection

Star Power

The film featured a cast that weren’t widely known for the most part in 2014, but in the series, guest stars have provided an A-list boost for What We Do in the Shadows. In Season 1, a brush with the vampire council brought names like Evan Rachel Wood, Tilda Swinton, Danny Trejo, Dave Bautista, Kristen Schaal and more into the vampires’ orbit as well as Waititi, Celement and Brugh who reprised their roles from the film. Meanwhile, other famous faces who have dropped by Shadows include Mark Hamill, Craig Robinson, Nick Kroll, Vanessa Bayer and more.

Jemaine Clement, Jonny Brugh, Taika Waititi in What We Do in the Shadows - Season 1, 'The Trial'
Russ Martin / FX / Everett Collection

Nods to the Original

It’s hard to improve upon near-perfection when it comes to comedy, but Shadows has managed to do so while paying homage to the source material from which it is based. Whether it’s club outings, frustrated familiars or hilarious dance sequences, fans of the film can appreciate the ways the series is incorporating concepts introduced in 2014 and how it’s refashioning them for a fresh approach worthy of audience laughter.