How What We Do In The Shadows addresses the inherent weirdness of vampires

Clockwise from bottom left: Natasia Demetriou, Kayvan Novak, Harvey Guillén and Matt Berry in What We Do In The Shadows (Photos: Pari Dukovic/FX)

Clockwise from bottom left: Natasia Demetriou, Kayvan Novak, Harvey Guillén and Matt Berry in What we do in the shadows (Photos: Pari Dukovic/FX)
graphic: Allison Corr

“Gay is in. Gay is hot. i want something gay It will be gay.”

Consider this a mantra uttered by Matt Berry’s Lazlo Cravensworth in What we do in the shadows last episode “private school‘, a line that pretty much sums up the fourth season of this vampire mockumentary series. While the show has long been incorporated elements From queerness in his storylines, this latest installment of episodes has cranked everything up a few notches and really delved into the queerness of his polyamorous household. With his streaks of blatant homoeroticism, What we do in the shadows Honoring a long tradition in vampire lore, the lusty, blood-sucking creatures of the night are part of a long history of queer reading that stretches back to the genre’s dawn.

Twenty-five years before Bram Stoker would be published DraculaIrish author Sheridan Le Fanu came out with the novella Carmilla, starring the influential and openly lesbian vampire Mircalla. One of the first fictional works about vampires, Carmilla lays the foundation for their nature, including homoeroticism. The tradition of lesbianism in vampire media suffices Dracula’s daughter (1936) to The hunger (1983) to the most recent Netflix series first kill (2022). (If you’re thirsty for more queer vampire recommendations, check it out Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys, Only Lovers Left Alive, Jennifer’s Body, Daughters Of Darknessand The vampire lovers-to name a few.)

You see, vampires and erotica have always been intertwined. Bloodthirst, desire, and pleasure all punctuate vampiric tendencies, leaving these undead creatures craving the warm, pumping red stuff we mere mortals hold so dear. These creatures of the night feed their hunger for the life force of the human body, and essentially the body itself. They are predominant Are defined through their desires – material and sexual. To put it bluntly, they are beautiful human-like beings who use penetration to suck blood and sometimes exchange blood. This penetration can be performed by any vampire – male or female – and can be performed on any person, leveling the playing field for any attraction or potential relationship.

Additionally, living vampires outside of human-sanctioned society frees them from the shame cast on traits like queerness, making them the perfect jumping-off point from which to explore these ideas. And back to WWDITS Household: They perfectly embody the concept of a found family away from “our” world, offering a space for unconditional acceptance, understanding and – when it comes to queerness – mutual respect.

So yes, all things considered, vampires are…sexy and gay! They align themselves to the night of pursuing all the hedonistic desires of their not beating heart. As Lazlo brings it: “I became a vampire to suck blood and fuck forever.”

Harvey Guillén as Guillermo in What We Do In The Shadows episode

Harvey Guillén as Guillermo in the film What we do in the shadows Episode “Pine Barrens”

From the beginning it was clear that the vampires of What we do in the shadow—that’s Lazlo, Nadja (Natasia Demetriou) and Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak) – they all share queer tendencies. Come on, they’ve been living together in a house for ages. It would be more incredible if they hadn’t all had sex with each other at the time.

Lazlo’s queerness was established in the pilot when he confessed to having a sexual affair with the pre-toasted Baron Afanas (Doug Jones). Then, in season two, episode nine of the series, Nandor and Lazlo nonchalantly embark on their own sexual rendezvous and get on witch Viagra. While Nadja’s queerness is more implicit in comments, as in the latest episode: “pine bars‘ when she scoffs, ‘I mean, who isn’t gay?’ (Colin Robinson, on the other hand, will be largely absent from this conversation since he currently exists in the form of a kid who only cares about musical theater and Roblox, despite his own earlier ones strange forms of expression.)

But this season everything is more in the foreground. We see Nandor begin his relentless fight Bachelor-style search for a wife – which, by his definition, increasingly means a man or a woman. While he eventually chooses to marry Marwa from his 37 previous wives (including three Dalals), we see Nandor showing interest in women of all genders. When his marriage to someone who isn’t Guillermo finally comes in episode sixthe jinn (Anoop Desai) lays the groundwork for an even deeper queer longing as Nandor brainwashes Marwa into liking everything he does — which makes her like Guillermo a lot of. Meanwhile, Lazlo searches the wedding guests for a quick fuck with the Baron, who is now back to his former glory.

All of this leads to the moment when the confidante-turned-bodyguard-turned-bookkeeper, Guillermo (Harvey Guillen) comes out to his visiting family not only as gay, but as someone who wants to become a vampire. While Guillermo was a queer-coded character from the start (starting with his obsession with Interview with the vampire), “Pine Barrens” marks the first time it officially comes out. This synchronous confession makes sense as Guillermo asserts his full desires as a human to his Van Helsing-descended family, who can readily accept that he is gay but not his desire to become a vampire. Here queerness and vampirism collide, expressing a need for belonging, visibility and a deep, foreboding desire.

With the series extended for at least two more seasons (and with a few remaining episodes in this one) hopefully we’ll continue to see Lazlo, Nandor, Nadja and Guillermo’s queerness explored and encouraged – especially Nadja, who truly deserves her own Carmilla Moment. Fingers crossed. How What We Do In The Shadows addresses the inherent weirdness of vampires

Andrew Schnitker

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