What We Do in the Shadows: The Roast
August 25, 2023 5:09 PM - Season 5, Episode 8 - Subscribe

A roast held in Laszlo's honor reveals dark secrets.

The vampires rally their friends to roast Laszlo out of his existential funk, and the Baron turns the night into a hunt. No matter what, though, neighbor Sean is still cool. We also get glimpses of the Hellhound!

AV Club recap
Vulture recap
posted by gladly (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Doug Jones is so good.
posted by Nelson at 9:58 PM on August 25 [15 favorites]

That ending was so adorable.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:29 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]

God damn it I knew the B plot about Laszlo was going to be a shaggy dog. Classic. The joke fit the show perfectly.
posted by rebent at 6:19 PM on August 26 [5 favorites]

No "at least he died doing what he loved" joke should work in 2023, but I thought that was going to be the hardest I laughed the whole episode till Nadja and Nandor were somberly confessing they'd never asked Guillermo if he had an egg sac.

I'm still on the fence whether this stuff with The Guide is going anywhere. It still seems weird they made Schall a regular without more for her to do (though, get that paycheck, Schall) and maybe it's just to be a punching bag? but this episode felt like it was pointing to that a little harder than previously.
posted by jameaterblues at 7:55 PM on August 26 [5 favorites]

till Nadja and Nandor were somberly confessing they'd never asked Guillermo if he had an egg sac

Colin's "He wore a lot of layers" was the extra kicker that did me in on that scene.

There was so much good stuff this episode, most of it from the Baron, but also little moments like Laszlo wiping his hands on The Guide's dress after the autopsy, the Baron dating his stored blood in Tupperware with the date marked on pieces of tape, Nadja's casual acceptance that Gizmo needed to be buried before he starts to stink (she tries but is still a psychopath).

It still seems weird they made Schall a regular without more for her to do

Very weird. I wonder if they're setting The Guide up for revenge later? She's pretty powerful, from what we know of her abilities. But that feels kind of cliched, so who knows why they seem to be wasting her like this. It's a shame, because Schall is so great.
posted by mediareport at 9:07 PM on August 26 [4 favorites]

Doug Jones really is fantastic. It's kind of a shame that he only got a few episodes where he didn't have to wear all the prosthetics. I mean, he's great in prosthetics, but he's such a good actor that I wish we got to see him more without all the rubber.

I also wonder what the deal is with Schall. She feels so extraneous it's kind of weird. Like, none of the regular vamps care about the Guide even a little or want her in the house. Vampires can be real dicks, refusing to admit (even to themselves) that they care about somebody, but their indifference to the Guide seems entirely genuine. And the Guide isn't quite sympathetic enough to make us feel her pain. She doesn't seem crushed by the way they constantly rebuff her efforts to make friends, she just looks irritated or a little sad and then goes right back to trying to be part of things. It's not a fun dynamic.

Nandor's reaction to Guillermo's death was touching, and Nadja's was interesting too, they way she seemed genuinely sad but got over it in no time at all. All of the vamps have such conflicting emotions about "Gizmo," where they consider him ridiculous and pathetic but they would also risk their own lives to protect him. In that recent episode where Guillermo broke his leg, all of the vamps (even Nandor!) were stepping over his writhing body so they could ask Colin about his black eye. It was played as a joke, but it says a lot about how vampires value their own kind over humans. A human, even their favorite human, will always be a lowly creature whose sufferings scarcely matter.

Laszlo, weirdly enough, is the only vampire who seems to transcend this. He inexplicably treats Sean like a true buddy, and when he gets involved with human affairs he tends to take it seriously. He's the only vampire who could make it as a "human bartender," because he's the only one who gives a damn about human stuff. But where Guillermo's concerned, Laszlo is as callous as any of them. Sean is Laszlo's "rotten solider," but Guillermo gets no respect. Maybe it's the familiar thing?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:04 PM on August 27 [4 favorites]

I kind of feel like the Guide exists to be ignored- she's so insecure and so needy and she gets basically none of what she needs from the other vampires but she can't seem to tell them to fuck off and go do ancient vampire shit elsewhere- but so far it's kind of been single-note. I'd almost think she plays a role like Jerry in Parks and Rec, as the designated person everybody irrationally treats like shit, but that's... already Guillermo so I dunno.

but Guillermo gets no respect. Maybe it's the familiar thing?

I think that's precisely it. Guillermo occupies a role in the vampire world that is well-defined, well-understood, and the target of deep, thorough contempt. The vampires can take individual humans as they find them (especially Lazlo, who does genuinely seem to find certain humans interesting and engaging), but those humans are part of their own group without a role beyond "food". Each of the vampires (other than Colin Robinson!) is seen at one point or another reaching out to human beings to form relationships of some kind- Nadja and that poor guy Lazlo keeps killing, Nandor and like two different people at the gym by now, Nadja and the Little Antipaxans, just off the top of my head. So we know that while vampires see humans as food, they also see humans as people, or at least as potential people?

Guillermo, however, is a familiar, and that's a role with a rigid set of characteristics. Other than the ability to work around vampires and have it be reasonably likely you won't get eaten, being a familiar is just endless downsides. As soon as you're in that role, you're less than a person, and it's really only the combination of Guillermo's strength of personality and, well, strength of arms that forces the rest of the core cast to treat him, sometimes, as something other than a disposable servant who's going to age out and die and get replaced before they've even noticed it was happening. There's just this thorough contempt for familiars that none of them are ever going to lose and which he's going to have to fully shed the familiar role in order to escape.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:34 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]

I do love that all the vampires agree that Sean is pretty cool even for a human.
posted by Uncle at 9:22 AM on August 29 [9 favorites]

he's a good time
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:33 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]

I also wonder what the deal is with Schall. She feels so extraneous it's kind of weird. Like, none of the regular vamps care about the Guide even a little or want her in the house.

The fundamental joke is that she's a schmuck and a loser and fuck her, and it's a very bad joke that wastes Kristen Schaal's talent. Maybe the writers would like to think that the real joke is on the rest of the vampires for ignoring and devaluing her, but the truth is that she's the butt of the joke. It's schoolyard mean-spiritedness, and it's the least funny thing about any show that does it. Same reason I hated the treatment of Jerry on Parks and Rec. That show dressed it up a little by pointing out that Jerry had the most fulfilled personal life of any of the characters, but that never really diluted the actual "joke" of bullying and shitting all over the guy. Basically any time you think you're writing a character like Jerry from Parks and Rec, you're actually writing a character like Meg from Family Guy.

Also, I wish that new things would JUST FUCKIN' HAPPEN on this show without the writers teasing it and teasing it and teasing it and teasing it and refusing to just pull the goddamn trigger for literally an entire season every time. It seems like the writers want big changes to happen, but they endlessly kneecap themselves with this idea from 60 years ago that the end of every episode of a 30 minute sitcom has to wind up exactly where it started. Please, just DO THE THING and commit to it with no take backsies and see what happens next. I hate to say it, but I'm getting tired of this show precisely because of this habit.

Sorry, that was a lot of ranting. There's so much about this show that I love, but this season has been very frustrating.
posted by cubeb at 7:34 AM on August 30

The Guides' purpose is to be a bit of a punching bag, but also, to set things into motion that might not otherwise occurred. This episode was a prime example. Everything went to crap because the Guide had to mention that it was Guillermo who opened the door on the Master. Which, in turn, really arose out of the other vampires constantly ignoring her or crapping on her. She wanted to feel included, listened to, and have someone's attention for a change, and so spilled the beans.

I'm guessing, though, the season will end with her being put into some prominent place of authority and/or power.
posted by Atreides at 10:47 AM on August 30 [4 favorites]

That's a fair point, Atreides. The Guide's attempt to fit in was exactly what set this whole plot in motion. She does have potential uses to drive the story forward, but too often she just seems to be sitting there like, "Hey, remember me? I'm on this show too!"

Cubeb, I don't feel like the show is punching down on the Guide, it's more of a Guillermo thing where she's constantly overlooked and they want us to sympathize with her. But it doesn't really work, because Guillermo is the one who makes the whole house function so he has good reason to be frustrated with how he's treated, while the Guide seems more like an uninvited guest. Plus the vampires have this weird thing where they treat Guillermo like shit at the same time that they seem to kind of love him too. Other than the broken leg thing, they clearly care more about him than they're willing to admit. With the Guide, it's like her only real justification for being there is that she wants to make friends, and the vampires seem genuinely indifferent to her. It's kind of a tiresome dynamic and they either need to fully accept her into the house or kick her out.

I also get frustrated with how this show teases out plot stuff, but I've tried to make my peace with the fact that the writers clearly take the longer plot arcs less seriously than I do. I get invested in dramatic stuff like the cliffhanger where Laszlo sent Nadja away so he could raise baby Colin, and then the show resolves it with a line so they can get on to the next joke. You just have to remind yourself that for the people making this show, and a lot of the people watching it, it's all about the jokes. The deeper stuff is just there for spice, and stuff like long-term character growth can go right out the window for the sake of a gag.

Pope Guilty, you're right when you say that all of the vamps (Colin aside) have had their moments of being interested in humans as something other than food. I do feel like Laszlo takes it to another level, though. He can be the biggest, most entitled jerk in the house but he also has this weird egalitarian streak. I've never forgotten the early episode where he got stuck in the dog pound when he was a bat, and when he got out he insisted on releasing all of the animals because "we had a gentleman's agreement!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:52 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]

Schall also played “The Fan” in Flight of the Concords and was similarly dismissed and ridiculed. (Does that make her a character actor now?) and given that a lot of the same people are working on this show too, maybe it’s not a coincidence?
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:53 AM on September 2

I guess we can look forward to the oral history 10 years after the show ends where Schall talks about how it felt to play a character so awfully written.
posted by mediareport at 9:38 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]

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