FX’s What We Do in the Shadows aired its pilot episode Wednesday March 27th, and it was everything fans had hoped for, and more. Creators Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, who also made the original film by the same name, broadened the world that was shown in the movie by including the vampires’ understanding of and relation to movie portrayals of vampire characters. In order to increase the storyline to 10 episodes and reel in new fans, the creators have added some elements that fans will surely love.
In the original film, the vampires live in New Zealand and not much is said about the life of a familiar, or human, who is enslaved by a vampire. In the series, they live in New York on Staten Island and their characters take on a sitcom-like element as their everyday lives are shown in all its drabness and humor.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Clement explained how they wanted to pay homage to certain famous vampire flicks. “Interview With the Vampire was something we talked about a lot when we were making the movie,” said Clement. “We’ve always thought of our characters as the ‘real vampires,’ as opposed to movie vampires, but they still like those movies because they glorify vampires and their lifestyle.”
An example of this that is particularly humorous is when Nandor, played by Kayvan Novak, references the film Twilight after buying a pack of glitter so he can shine “like Twilight,” who he thinks is the name of a character in the film. According to Clement, “one of the characters likes Twilight because he knows it’s popular, but he hasn’t actually seen it.” Nandor, on the other hand, is a more avid movie-goer, according to Clement, making them more up-to-date on the times. “I think Nandor and Guillermo spend a lot of time going to the movies together.”
This leads to the next difference between film and series that was expounded upon: the relationship between Nandor and Guillermo. “We hadn’t explored the master-familiar thing very much in the film, and we always thought there was more in it,” Clement claimed. “It’s a classic comedy dynamic, where Nandor keeps him strung along just enough to keep working for him. I think of it as like a good assistant; it’s hard for someone who’s good at that job to be promoted.” However, at the end of the pilot episode, it is clear Guillermo will not get what his heart desires — to become a vampire — even after serving Nandor for 10 years. Clement added that this will be an ongoing thread in the plot line: whether Guillermo will ever get his wish.
The last newly developed piece for the show is the concept of an Energy Vampire, which is a vampire that sucks the energy out of people due to boredom. “It’s a term I’ve heard used to describe people who are difficult to talk to, and I’ve definitely been cornered by these people at parties,” Clement admitted. “Those people that you feel you need to be saved from, and the longer you’re in [the conversation] the more difficult it is to get away. It was just taking that to the supernatural level.” Colin Robinson, played by Mark Proksch, is the main energy vampire in the series. Clement admiringly commented on Proksch’s ability to improvise a majority of his dialogue. “The shame of it is that we have so much more stuff with him that we couldn’t fit in. A lot of it’s not on the page, he can just do that endlessly. We were like, ‘Just say boring things to this person,’ and we never got to a point where he’d run out. He’s such a funny guy, but I do wonder how this is gonna affect parties for him.”
Watch the hilarious first look footage below to see some behind-the-scenes and further explanations of the characters and what the series will entail.