Slash Film

With four strong seasons under its belt and at least two more on the way, the beloved vampire comedy series “What We Do in the Shadows” proves that vampires in pop culture — especially those written and acted this superbly — never die out. Based on Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s stellar mockumentary film of the same name, the FX series follows a group of centuries-old vampires living in Staten Island amongst their ever-expanding creepy crew and enemies — both human and supernatural.

While several impressive guest stars have appeared on the show — like Tilda Swinton in “The Trial” and Mark Hamill in one of the series’ standout episodes, “On the Run” — the series’ main characters more than hold their own against them. There are no “bad” characters in “What We Do in the Shadows.” However, some are better than others, and this list will break down the best of the best amongst the vampires, human neighbors, and familiars.

Charmaine Rinaldi

The “wacky neighbor” character is a comedy staple, and in true supernatural sitcom fashion, “What We Do in the Shadows” turns the trope on its head by making sure its vampire stars and the humans who live next door all qualify as wacky neighbors. Charmaine Rinaldi (Marissa Jaret Winokur), the local wine enthusiast and wife of Sean (Anthony Atamanuik), is actually a great neighbor. She’s warm and hospitable, making sure Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) has fun at the Rinaldis’ Super Bowl party. Charmaine even invites the vampire household to Atlantic City when she and Sean renew their wedding vows.

Charmaine never judges the vampires for their eccentric attire or the fact that they appear to be falling-down drunk at the vow renewal ceremony (though, in fairness to the vampires, they were suffering from power drainage at the time, not inebriation). She’s the opposite of the nosy Gladys Kravitz from “Bewitched.” Charmaine is generous, kind, and welcoming to her odd neighbors. She may rank lowest on this list, but it’s not because she’s not a great character: She has a lot of competition!

Baron Afanas

Although it’s tempting to put Doug Jones’ vampire royalty at the top of this list — just because he’s Doug Jones, Legendary Creature Actor –, like Charmaine, Baron Afanas has stiff competition for being the best character on “What We Do in the Shadows.” The Baron is a hilarious contradiction: he’s ancient and terrifying, but he can also be quite silly, a line the show walks incredibly well. The fact that a mummified vampire without genitals is sexual catnip to Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Nadja adds hilarious ironies and deepens the refreshingly queer ethos of “What We Do in the Shadows.”

The Baron never loses his sense of grandeur — even when he’s rolled around on a coat rack after losing most of his limbs. So much of that feeling comes from Jones’ performance. Few actors have the physical grace, humor, and control that Jones has: Those three elements are vital to bringing the undead Baron to life. For a horror comedy series about vampires, it’s necessary to maintain an undercurrent of terror. The malevolent and mercurial Baron is one of the biggest reasons the series pulls off that tricky balance.

Nandor The Relentless

One of the central gags in “What We Do in the Shadows” is how out of touch the powerful, immortal vampires are. They can’t do their laundry, establish dominion over more than a block or two, or figure out how email works. Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), a former general and fearsome warrior, might be the most helpless of them all. He relies on his familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) for everything. Sure, Novak is large in stature, and he gives Nandor the habit of sweeping into rooms with his cape and stomping around as if he owns every room in the world. Contrast that with his complete obliviousness, and you have comedy gold.

Although Nandor’s complete dependence on Guillermo makes for great comedic moments, it causes a strain on his devoted familiar — emotionally, financially, and physically. Nandor often takes Guillermo for granted, and Guillermo — the show’s beating heart — has left more than once to try to find a more fulfilling life away from Nandor’s casual neglect. Like everyone else on this list, Nandor is a great character. However, he must answer for hurting Guillermo’s feelings so casually and often, and his low ranking reflects that.

Sean Rinaldi

Human neighbor Sean is bad with money — investing in “Guy Pillow” pyramid schemes, going into debt in Atlantic City, and filling his home with “Ocean’s Twelve” memorabilia — but he’s a good friend to Laszlo. In Laszlo’s words: “He’s my best friend. He’s my pal. He’s my homeboy, my rotten soldier. He’s my sweet cheese. My good-time boy.” Just like his wife Charmaine, Sean never judges the vampires next door for their eccentricities — whether it be their clothes, odd sleep schedule, or that they kept waiting for the Superb Owl to show up at Sean’s Super Bowl party.

When the sexually voracious Laszlo hits on him, Sean firmly but graciously turns him down. He tells Laszlo he’s flattered but not interested. For a show so focused on queerness, it’s a delight to find that no one judges the sexualities of the vampires (all of whom, true to vampire history, are queer). Sean is generous to a fault, which is in keeping with his poor financial decisions. He’s a giving, passionate man — seriously, try talking to him about “Ocean’s Twelve.” He loves his oddball neighbors like they’re his family. Sean’s a basic human guy, which makes his acceptance of the vampires next door — even though he keeps getting hypnotized to forget what they are — all the more heartwarming, and earns him an equally average place on this list.

The Guide

Kristen Schaal’s mysterious character, The Guide, is a servant to the Vampiric Council. Mostly, she cleans up after Laszlo, Nadja, Nandor, and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch) once they ascend to Council leadership. The Guide started out as a minor (but hilarious) side character, but her role has grown in later seasons of “What We Do in the Shadows.” Schaal’s distinctive voice and terrific comedic timing make The Guide a scene-stealer — even amongst the brilliant comedians who make up the show’s central cast.

Season 4 sees The Guide teaming up with Nadja to run her vampire nightclub. Her hard-working contributions combined with her try-hard overtures to become Nadja’s friend endear her to viewers even more. Honestly, it’s nearly impossible to watch “What We Do in the Shadows” and not want to hang out with the core group of vampires (especially Nadja and Laszlo). The Guide remains mysterious — she still doesn’t have a first name or much backstory — but she also becomes highly relatable. This compelling contradiction leaves you wanting to know more and become The Guide’s friend. She certainly needs one, so we’re intrigued enough to rank her higher than the human neighbors we know and love.

Simon The Devious

Simon the Devious (Nick Kroll) is the series’ best villain. As his name would suggest, he’s not the most trustworthy of vampires. He’s tangled with Laszlo more than once to try to trick him out of his cherished (and cursed!) witch’s hat. This cursed hat adds a complicated and hilarious layer to their Tom-and-Jerry interactions. Simon will go to any lengths to deceive someone. 

In the funniest and most surprising episode of Season 4, “Go Flip Yourself,” viewers learn that Simon has posed as a home improvement television host for 150 episodes to lull Laszlo into a false sense of security. He does this all so that he can infiltrate the vampire residence and steal the hat again. Few shows are as patient with a payoff as “What We Do in the Shadows,” and absolutely nothing on the show is a throwaway joke. Simon the Devious’s property bro plot is proof of that, and his character is an absolute masterstroke. Still, he can’t beat the show’s main vampires…

Nadja Of Antipaxos

As Charmaine tells her, men surround Nadja’s life. Along with the haunted doll that houses the soul of human Nadja, vampire Nadja brings a necessary feminine touch to the house. Nadja can be selfish and egotistical like the other vampires, but she also occasionally has a nurturing side. She turns a young woman named Jenna (Beanie Feldstein) into a vampire because she feels a kinship with the lonely social misfit, guiding her to become a creature of the night.

But Nadja also has a mischievous, fun-loving side. She opens a vampire nightclub, after all, and it’s complete with “Blade”-inspired blood sprinklers! (Unfortunately, the sprinklers only work at the most inopportune times). She also is the driving force behind the vampire orgy at their residence. Sadly, Laszlo ruins the orgy with his boring-for-a-vampire porn and love for his wife. Up until that point, Nadja was doing a stellar job as a hostess and organizer. Nadja is the most fun of all the vampires, which earns her a higher spot on this list than most of her housemates.

Colin Robinson

Colin Robinson is special. As an energy vampire who survives by consuming emotional energy rather than human blood — no one is sure how he fits in with the rest of the house. As Colin says: “Yeah, I’m not positive what my deal is either…” That mystery is part of what makes him a great character. Somehow, it makes sense that a being so beige, bland, and forgettable would reincarnate in Season 4 as an uncanny baby who grows at an alarming rate and loves show tunes.

However, what really makes Colin Robinson a great character is Mark Proksch’s brilliant deadpan delivery. His Midwestern geniality — sometimes sincere, sometimes not — works at odds with his voracious appetite for others’ discomfort. Watching him remain unruffled as he secretly feeds on being’s energies is maddening and hilarious. But it’s also terrifying. He sits higher on the food chain than conventional vampires since he can feed off their energy too. Of the housemates, he’s the biggest threat, which makes Colin Robinson a menacing asset in this horror-comedy.

Laszlo Cravensworth

When you have a cast that includes Matt Berry, it’s a legal requirement to rank his character as highly as possible. Simply put, the man is a comic genius. He can turn any line of dialogue — or even any three words, as evidenced by the viral clip of him pronouncing “New York City” as floridly as possible — into the funniest thing you have heard in your life. Laszlo is also the most proudly and delightfully queer vampire on the show. That makes him even more of a highlight, and — dare I say — a hero on an enthusiastically queer show.

Just like his wife Nadja, Laszlo has a nurturing side too. When Colin Robinson reincarnates as a baby after his death in Season 3, Laszlo stays home to take care of the child while Nandor and Nadja travel the world. Although Berry is known for his comedy, he’s a fine dramatic actor as well. His sense of duty and love for the baby is palpable. Laszlo really shines in Season 4. While the cast works best as an ensemble, it’s a joy to see Berry work opposite an eerie CGI-child-abomination and turn it into a touching season-long arc about the strong bonds of found families.

Guillermo De La Cruz

While it’s hard to beat Matt Berry, Harvey Guillén pulls it off with his role of the underdog familiar: Guillermo. Not only is Guillén an out gay actor playing a newly-out gay character, but he’s a fat actor of color playing a b***** action hero! Guillermo is the best character on the show for breaking these barriers alone. To the writers’ credit, Guillermo’s character arc in “What We Do in the Shadows” is the most fascinating. Guillermo is a sweet and shy man, but he’s a descendant of the famous vampire killer Van Helsing. Give Guillermo a few stakes and some holy water, and he can take out an entire theatre full of vampires — as we see in Season 2’s action-packed finale.

If “What We Do in the Shadows” finds its finest comedy and horror beats in the contradictions of life, then Guillermo is the best example of that approach. He’s a mild-mannered, sweater-vest-wearing dork who wants to be a vampire. Somehow, he’s become the most fearsome vampire killer in the world. He’s Nandor’s familiar (read: servant), but he’s too good for Nandor — although he’s obviously in love with him. Guillermo is the viewer’s window into the vampires’ lives — addressing the camera crew within the show’s universe, drawing us into his and his housemates’ lives. As he is the best character in “What We Do in the Shadows,” it’s a privilege to spend time with him.

Read this next: The 14 Best What We Do In The Shadows Episodes, Ranked

The post Every Main Character In What We Do in the Shadows, Ranked appeared first on /Film.

/Film – ‘Slash Film: Every Main Character In What We Do In The Shadows, Ranked’
Author: Jessica Scott
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November 15, 2022

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