Back in 2014, a movie came out that spoofed a 2004 short with a similar concept — a docuseries, featuring not-so-scary, almost amateur vampires. This year, that movie was turned into a television show with a brand new cast. What We Do In The Shadows isn't just a show cashing in on the fact that people like vampires. Instead, it actually showcases some of the funniest talent you may not know of just yet. For one, Matt Berry.
It's possible you've seen Berry after stumbling across one of his shows on Netflix before. The actor has appeared in a number of series that comedy fans often see floating around their recommended list — Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, Toast of London, The Mighty Boosh, and Snuff Box, to name a few. Hailing from Bromham, Bedfordshire, he's quietly started appearing in plenty of American comedies. Fans of Community may recognize him from the episode "Grifting 101," and he also popped up in the Portlandia episode "Squiggleman."
The concept of What We Do In The Shadows is much like The Office — except instead of Michael Scott, you have someone who often forgets that walking is pointless when you have bat-like abilities. Berry plays the role of Laszlo, a vampire who morphed into a "bloodthirsty creature of the night" after sleeping with a woman, Nadja, who clawed at his third-floor window. After hypnotizing him and sleeping with him, Nadja revealed her true "leathery" bat self, and they've been together ever since. Laszlo also lives with a vampire named Nandor, who has a "familiar" named Guillermo. Guillermo aims for the gift of being upgraded to the role of an actual vampire but settles for a glitter portrait instead.
As a fan of the movie, I initially had doubts about the television show. The film was penned by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, who also directed and starred in it. Clement, known best for being half of the Flight of the Conchords, was arguably the film's strongest character. Known for being a little deadpan when the time calls, it was hard to envision a reworking without him.
All it took was one promo commercial a few weeks back for me to express this to my husband. He then reminded me that, sure — Clement was out, but Berry was in the mix. Suddenly, it went back to becoming a must-watch. After all, it was my husband who introduced me to Berry in the first place. He stumbled upon him years ago after checking out Snuff Box at random. When he started watching the miniseries, which also stars Rich Fulcher, he told me he "didn't think it was very good." But only after about an hour of exposure, something clicked and it morphed into one of his favorites.
Clement and Berry could be cut from the same cloth. Both double as musicians, often providing key elements of the soundtrack of the show they're working on. And, both seem to choose projects that have a small element of disbelief. For the record, it's hard to compare Flight of the Conchords to any other show. People either love it or don't understand it, which is something Berry's projects also have in common.
It's not that Clement doesn't have a role in the series. Both he and Waititi are listed as executive producers, and he also worked on the teleplay of the pilot. So, he knew that this was a role that would fit Berry perfectly. Plus, it helps that Berry isn't trying to replace Clement. In this version, the docuseries lends its focus to other vampires, much like an actual spin-off.
As for the show as a whole, it found perfect placement with FX. It's the same level as many of their comedic hits like It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Baskets, both which also find humor in grim or socially awkward situations. What We Do In The Shadows is very smart with its writing, making sure that literally, every scene is the funniest it could possibly be. Even if you don't love vampires, you'll like this show — especially Laszlo.
Karen Belz has contributed to sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, and So Yummy. Follow her on Twitter at @KarenEBelz.