NO SPOILERS… With two episodes so far, WandaVison takes me back to growing up watching reruns with how pitch-perfect and corny those two eps are (sense memory of being home from school 30 years ago, that’s how specific it is). So much fun and I cannot wait for more and to see where this surreal show goes.
I guess technically this would be my “second impression” as I already posted that opening paragraph on social media right after watching the first two episodes but I really wanted to express again just how much fun I’ve had so far. There is something ironically refreshing about this series in how it recreates TV shows from decades past but also it comes after a year or so without new Marvel Studios content.
If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe then you’re coming into this knowing something is not right and that’s the overarching mystery of this series. Even with a base knowledge (thanks to internet osmosis) about some of the comic sources that are inspiring this series, my interest in said mystery takes a backseat to how impressed I am at the recreation of these old television shows. Each episode will depict a different era of American sitcom, so far it’s been the 1950’s and the 1960’s (the latter being almost a direct rip/homage of Bewitched) and I absolutely adore the subtle differences between the two.
Some have commented that they found the show boring and I can understand that, however, this is what TV shows were like back then almost to the letter (apparently, for “authenticity” they filmed the first episode in front of a studio audience so the actors could have something to react off of). And they still work as self-contained comedies albeit on the level of the era they’re recreating. It’s not about satirising the old shows (although there are a couple of jokes that do poke fun at certain tropes), for the most part they’re playing it straight in exactly how those shows would have been written and performed. With each episode being about 22 minutes long, the gag doesn’t outstay its welcome as far as I’m concerned. It’s also very cool how the filming style turns somewhat anachronistic when showing something is “off”. A good comparison would be to say that it reminded me of a Alfred Hitchcock film in those brief moments, the surreality kicks in reminding you how absurd this all is.
In terms of playing it straight, both Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany do a marvellous job at emulating those types of roles adding to how well these two episodes work as self contained shows from those eras. Same with the rest of the supporting cast.
WandaVision was never going to be an outright superhero/action adventure show even if some action moments were littered in the trailers (which seem to be showing a lot as of late). With their fidelity in regards to what worked in the comics, Marvel Studios also has a tendency to lightly experiment with genre much like the comics did however this is perhaps the first time they’ve dove right into something so bizarre, no explanations, and it still works.
My advice about this series is to not bother trying to speculate. I don’t feel as though the mystery is as deep as a prestige television show, like for example Westworld. Marvel stuff is for as broad an audience as possible and that includes younger viewers (which is also why it emulates something like Bewitched or I Dream of Jeanie). A lot of people have trouble managing their expectations but honestly just let this show roll over you and enjoy the experience. I will say though, certain things make “sense” when you consider the stereotype of Europeans and how they consume American media (or at least how Americans depict how that happens I guess?).
At the moment it all depends on how the rest of WandaVision turns out as well as how the overarching mystery is unravelled but I’m having so much fun and excited for more.
New episodes are released weekly every Friday on Disney+.
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