Compared to past seasons, there’s nothing particularly special about Matt Berry’s 300-year-old pansexual vampire Laszlo in season 5’s “What We Do in the Shadows.” Jackie Daytona is not resurrected to raise money for the Clairton, Pennsylvania volleyball team. There is no episode dedicated to Laszlo hobbynor is there a sudden twist that sheds any light on Nadja’s much younger hubby. During the first four episodes, Laszlo is still Laszlo, and he is still an instrument in an exceptional sextet composed by Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) and their last member, The Guide (Kristen Schaal).
But season 5 still belongs to Laszlo, and therefore Matt Berry. From the first button of the pre-credits (a quote sure to spread like wildfire) to his rise to the C-plot in Episode 4, “The Campaign,” Laszlo is the building block to his team’s success. It’s not so much that the scenes without him lack anything – “What We Do in the Shadows” remains one of the best all-around sitcoms on the market, making the most of the artistry of the cast and crew – it’s just that the scenes they lack Laszlo Laszlo is missing. You know when your team is on a hot streak and everyone is contributing, but there’s still that extra jolt of energy when the hottest player steps onto the plate? That’s Lazlo. That is Berry. It’s his MVP season, even if you’ve said the same thing for years before.
As illustrated in season four, when he played the father figure to the creature known colloquially as Baby Colin, and the year before, when he was Adult Colin’s secret keeper (and reluctant best friend), Laszlo is adaptable. An opinionated curmudgeon, a cocky Briton and avid supporter of the queer community (free love It is the way), many of Laszlo’s personality traits seem ingrained. He is often dismissive of Nandor, whom he doesn’t exactly hold in high regard, and even more of the familiar he calls Gizmo. He has the confidence of a man who can’t be wrong, and some of his finest moments come from an arrogant remark uttered at random, simply because he can. (It would be strange for a vampire to spend three centuries feasting on human blood and Not develop a god complex.)
In the beginning, Laszlo is kind of an extreme version of a 90s sitcom husband. He is loud and stubborn. He is obsessed with sex. Quarrel with his wife. (The Cursed Witches Leather Hat has become a recurring spat, though it’s not the only spat with Nadja centered in Season 1.) But after the pivotal first season, “What We Do in the Shadows” continues to ramp up. The writers expand on everything from vampire lore to character personalities, wisely experimenting with different ensemble pairings to discover crackling chemistry and further develop the undead.
That’s how we ended up with rewarding long-term partnerships like Nandor and Guillermo, which blossomed from an antagonistic boss/assistant relationship into a platonic romance; Nadja and The Guide, who have found a winning relationship by opening (and closing) Nadja’s vampire night club (they also have more to do in season five); and even the ghost of Nadja and Nadja, who inhabit a doll that looks exactly like Nadja (credit to Demetriou, as well as the prop department, for keeping this duo fresh all these seasons).
But arguably, Laszlo benefited the most. Not only did we end up with two full seasons of Laszlo and Colin’s distinctive brands of “family” comedy (Laszlo says goodbye to his dying friend, then does Laszlo resurrect his dead friend’s pseudo-son?), but Laszlo and Nadja only delved into their bond, Laszlo and Nandor strengthened their feisty friendship, and Laszlo and Sean (Anthony Atamanuik), the lovable weak vampire neighbor, are the most endearing characters in the show odd couple. (And that’s saying something, considering Nadja and the Nadja doll, and, of course, the Baron and the Sire). If Laszlo had remained just another horny stick-in-the-mud (like other sitcom dads), he would never have been friends with a Guy Pillow salesman with the thickest Staten Island accent this side of Dongan Hills, let alone take a trip to the Atlantic City together. Laszlo would have killed him years ago, probably as soon as Sean said, “Welcome to da naybawhood!”
Season 5 advances these connections with the series’ now-standard creative flourishes. Thanks to Sean (sort of), Colin gets his time to shine within the confines of American bureaucracy. Laszlo and Nandor reunite for another memorable boys’ night out with Sean’s human friends. There’s a Pride night for the ages, orchestrated by – of all people – Sean. (Wait, this is really it by Sean Season MVP?) But in the premiere, a trip to the mall creates Laszlo’s main pair: Gizmo. At the end of last season, Guillermo becomes frustrated with how slow his vampire masters move – especially in regards to him joining their ranks – and asks his friend Derek (Chris Sandiford) to turn him into a walker. night. Without spoiling anything, Guillermo’s simple plan isn’t that simple to execute, and Laszlo becomes curious about their boring familiar’s strange antics. Needless to say, their extra time together shouldn’t go to waste.
“What We Do in the Shadows” is well underway. The fandom is passionate and, one has to assume thanks to its availability on Hulu, growing. The reviews are strong and the accolades are constant. Rather than resting on their laurels after five seasons, the entire team is striving for bigger and better ideas, jokes, and effects. Now it’s up to the TV Academy to put the icing on the cake and give Matt Berry his Emmy. It didn’t happen for season 4, and it doesn’t have to be for season 5 – there’s no wrong time to deliver a trophy late – but it has to happen. And so on.
Season 5 of “What We Do in the Shadows” premieres Thursday, July 13 at 10pm on FX and streams the following day on Hulu. New episodes will be released every week. Seasons 1-4 are available on Hulu.