Just as Taika Waititi’s low-budget New Zealand-based horror comedy What We Do in the Shadows became a worldwide word-of-mouth favorite in 2014, FX’s small-screen spinoff has found its audience growing in an exponential way too. This year nominated for an impressive eight awards at the Emmys, including one for Outstanding Comedy Series, the show picks up on the original film’s premise: a documentary crew is following the everyday lives of a band of vampire roommates in Staten Island as they attempt to assimilate with the modern world.
Paul Simms and Stefani Robinson, two of the show’s writers and executive producers, and actor Matt Berry, who plays the English nobleman vampire Lazslo, appeared on a panel for Deadline’s virtual Contenders Television: The Nominees event.
Simms talked about the secret of the Gothic romp’s success. “It takes a lot of hard, hard work and late nights to make something so silly, and I think the silliness is probably the key to it,” he said. But by saying that it’s silly,” he added, “I don’t want to give you the impression that we just slap this together. We work very hard to make some of the stupidest, silliest jokes you’ll ever see.”
For Robinson, the key is that, despite its fantastical elements, the show is really quite mundane. “I think what makes these characters relatable is the fact that they are roommates,” she said. “And I think that’s an experience that most people have probably had at some point or another in their lives—living with other people, bickering, sharing space.”
Berry added that, with the first season out of the way, audiences were finally getting to know these characters and seeing past the gore and the fangs. “I think you need two series in order to get used to a bunch of odd-looking people in a show,” he laughed. “The first time, you’re spending those 10 episodes just getting used to what they look like and how they sound and everything else. And by the time you get to the second season, you’ve got past all that.”
Nevertheless, this is far from a normal show, as Robinson confirmed. “Every day we’re doing something so crazy,” she said. “We’re putting someone in a harness and they’re flying up in the air, or someone’s vomiting blood, or someone’s on fire, or Haley Joel Osment is crawling around and he’s lost his arm… Every time that we’re on set, it’s just like, ‘God, like, I can’t believe that we’re doing this and getting away with it.’”
Check out the video above, and click here to watch all of Sunday’s Contenders TV panels.