The fourth season of "What We Do in the Shadows" was a ride.
One might not expect the show that brought us blood sprinklers to bring the tears as well, but the vampire comedy, airing on FX and Hulu, did just that this season. Based on the film of the same name, "What We Do in the Shadows" follows four, ancient vampire roommates who live in a decrepit house in modern-day Staten Island along with their long-suffering familiar, the human Guillermo (Harvey Guillén).
This season, surrogate fatherhood came as a surprise to vampire Laszlo (Matt Berry) as his friend, energy vampire Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), seemingly died at the end of last season but was reborn (kind of) in large-headed baby form. Over the course of 10 episodes, we watch as the character moves from toddlerhood to tweendom to adolescence, with actor Mark Proksch gamely keeping up with his shifting role, and doing some vaudeville stylings in the process. While ridiculous, the scenes with baby Colin also feel familiar. As outlandish as the vampire show can be, we still recognize ourselves in it, maybe especially this season: those of us who are parents.
The season also follows two new ventures — modern marriage for Nandor (Kayvan Novak) and a managing a nightclub for Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) — both of which enjoy some success and some horrifying moments before ultimately failing. But the potentially biggest moment is saved for the very last moments when Guillermo seeks out his friend Derek (Chris Sandiford) — a lonely, impoverished vampire who manages a convenience store — and offers him a carpet bag full of cash. The catch? "You're going to make me a vampire."
How can the show top Colin's metamorphosis, finally finding a love for Guillermo, and the sex god the Baron, resurrected for Nandor's wedding? "What We Do in the Shadows" has already been renewed for two more seasons, and writer Paul Simms promises "the next season's going to be super funny again . . . We're trying to scramble to get it together and it's going to be great."
Salon talked with Simms and Proksch about the Season 4 finale, Colin, kids, energy vampires — and if those last two are the same thing.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and condensed.
This season is surprisingly emotional, especially the finale. Did you mean to make me cry?
Paul Simms: A little bit, just a little bit. I have a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old, and they grow up so fast. A lot of the ideas in the season came from that and also just anticipating that, eight years from now, I'll say to them, "Remember all the fun things we did?" And they'll go, "No, I don't remember anything."
It's just reflecting on life, man.
How did you decide what baby and child Colin would look like with the blond surfer hair and the clothes?
"Any time you can look ridiculous and gross is good for comedy."
Simms: We did a whole bunch of concepts. If he was bald and had glasses, it would seem like too much of a joke. Too much of a joke and too freakish. We wanted him to look as much like a little kid as possible. I feel like TV kids usually have perfect hair, but little kids are usually wild, unkempt, don't want to cut their hair. So that's how we ended up with that. Also, on a technical level, it just helped us, when we later shot Mark's head and put it on Mark in a wig. The technical aspect of it was not easy to figure out.
I have an 11-year-old, and it was uncanny, both the things that young Colin said as well as the way he looked. The hair was really bringing me back, so thank you for that. Mark, this question is for you specifically, what was your favorite age of Colin to play?
Mark Proksch: Probably teenage Colin and, to some extent, tween Colin. But teenage Colin, being so emotional and pimply, that was really fun to play. And the moment I got to sing and dance on stage, in my adult doughy, 40s body, was fun too. Any time you can look ridiculous and gross is good for comedy.
Do you think that Colin really doesn't remember being a child or is he lying?
Proksch: I think that's up to interpretation. I know Paul has an answer, but he's not forthcoming and neither am. I think it's best to let fans speculate whether at some point Colin started feeding on Laszlo a little bit — or is Colin able to hold that back and appreciate what Laszlo did and just not let him know? I don't know. It's a good area of debate, I think.
Simms: Got to give people something to think about until the next season starts.
Matt Berry as Laszlo in "What We Do in the Shadows" (Russ Martin/FX)Along those lines, is Laszlo going to be changed by his experience with fatherhood?
"They go through experiences that should change them, but like the rest of us, they just keep going."
Simms: I don't think so. I think, one of the fun things about this episode is that these characters are hundreds of years old and they've basically never really changed. They make efforts to change. They go through experiences that should change them, but like the rest of us, they just keep going. Definitely in the finale, it's obviously sad that, not only that Colin doesn't remember all the things [Laszlo] did for him, but that they had a weird bond that Laszlo is not used to having since he's such a cynic and a curmudgeon. But no one changes.
And the things that would be big in our lives as humans are just blips in their vampire lifetimes.
Simms: Just little blips. That's why Nandor is like, "I'm just going to relax and read a book for 10 to 15 years."
"And then I'm going to be through with this phase." Will we learn more about energy vampires in the next season?
Simms: Yes, you will.
What about Guillermo? Because last season, so much focused on Colin Robinson, which I loved, but is this going to be Guillermo's year? Or are things going to work out for him ever?
Simms: I feel like every season is everyone's season. What is interesting at the end of the season is he makes such a rash and ill-advised decision, which is not what Guillermo usually does. He's usually so cautious and rational. And that's the fun of seeing the consequences of making a decision about something he's longed for for so long, but maybe making it a little too hastily and not realizing the repercussions.
Harvey Guillén as Guillermo in "What We Do in the Shadows" (Russ Martin/FX)Are you excited to play Colin Robinson as he was again, Mark? Or are you going to be missing the different stages he was in last season?
Proksch: The different stages — that was really fun to play. And one thing I love about this show is, it doesn't pander to the whims of fans. Like Paul has said many times, you want it until you get it — and then you don't want to see it; it doesn't pay off. And so, being back in regular Colin Robinson mode will be fun for me. And it was fun at the end of the finale, going back into Colin mode.
Simms: That was really fun for all of us also, when Mark walked on set as if the whole season we just shot was nothing and he was right back into that character.
Obviously, I was upset when he dies and I was shocked that it went there and went there so violently. Then I missed him and was suspicious of this child. And then I fell in love with the child — and now you're going back to Colin Robinson, the grownup again. It's quite a journey the show takes people on.
Simms: Sounds like we made you a little nervous, but in the end you were satisfied. That was the goal.
That's much better than the alternative: being complacent. From what you've said and what I've read, Paul, your children had some say in young Colin Robinson's lines, and as the parent of an 11-year old — he has very strong opinions about my work and my fiction. Are your kids going to continue to weigh in on the show or do they want to?
Simms: Yes, they do. But mainly, my son wants to make sure that MrBeast sees the clip of the moment where baby Colin mentioned MrBeast, because he thinks then MrBeast will invite him to his workshop in North Carolina. That's what he's really fascinated about.
But so much of that stuff came from both of my kids. And not even me asking them, what would they say? Just from living through the Roblox obsession and the Legos obsession, and the saying, "Guess what?" to the point where you want to go, "Just say what you're going to say, you don't have to say, 'Guess what?' every time." The show's pretty dirty, but I let them watch some of it. And they almost feel like they wrote those parts. They're like, "Roblox. I remember when we talked about that." I'm like, "Yeah, you guys did a great job on that episode. Good job."
I think on one hand, my partner and I feel very seen as parents by this season. On the other, I think it was kind of triggering.
Simms: That's what we said at the beginning, that we love kids, but they can be energy vampires. They exhaust you just in a different way than maybe adult Colin Robinson does. But still, it's tiring.
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Are you surprised, Mark, by how the character has become a fan favorite? He's not as flashy as the other vampires, but people love Colin Robinson.
Proksch: It is interesting. And that's really nice to hear, but also, I know people that consider Guillermo the fan favorite or Laszlo or Nadja. And how rare is it to be on an ensemble where there are fan favorites in each one of the characters. I think that just speaks to the writing and the chemistry that we as a cast have.
Simms: It was really fun when we went to Comic-Con. There's a part where we came out of a place where all the fans were gathered, and it was great because people dressed up as each one of the different characters. It was really fun to see. But I also think the reason Colin is a fan favorite is because we all know an energy vampire or two. And that's also what makes it fun to write.
"What We Do in the Shadows" airs on FX and streams on Hulu the next day. Watch the trailer for the Season 4 finale via YouTube below:
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