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Though its final episode sacrificed its original, more whimsical format to play out the emotional endgame of the series on a more clearly defined stage, Marvel Studios' WandaVision was originally pitched to audiences through an inventive and mysterious marketing campaign as a journey through various eras of American television.
Throughout the course of its early episodes, the series gave us tributes to everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show to Bewitched to slightly more modern fare like Family Ties and Malcolm in the Middle. It was a journey packed with little Easter eggs and references, but according to creator Jac Schaeffer, the original pitch for the series was even weirder in terms of the TV influences it brought to the table.
Speaking to The New York Times in the wake of the show's much-anticipated finale, Schaeffer discussed everything from the original concept to cameo appearances to that now-famous earworm "Agatha All Along," and along the way she revealed some of the TV tributes that were ultimately left behind as the show developed. Though it eventually took shape as a series of tributes to American sitcoms — specifically the ones that Wanda watch with her family while growing up in Sokovia — Schaeffer explained that her original pitch also included not just other sitcom concepts, but other era-defining television as well.
"In my pitch, the 'rewind' episode was a C.S.I. episode. I thought, how interesting to do sitcom, sitcom, sitcom, and then shatter that and be in a different genre," Schaeffer said. "But once we got in the writers’ room, we stayed with family sitcoms and sitcoms that were on the brighter, optimistic side of the spectrum because it is a fantasy. That meant things like All in the Family and Roseanne got shunted to the side. I had an episode that was The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and it was about Wanda’s work-life balance. Those are spectacular shows and say so much about our culture and ourselves. But we stayed in the zone of aspirational family sitcoms and that helped us find the focus of the show."
Watching Wanda and Agatha pick through the rubble of Wanda's life like it's evidence in a crime scene investigation drama would have been both an amusing reflection on the most popular network television of the early 2000s and a fascinating shift in tone for the show, and Elizabeth Olsen would have no doubt shined through a tribute to Mary Tyler Moore's classic series. As Schaeffer noted, though, finding the "aspirational" series that helped drive the fantasy world Wanda created for herself made more sense for the overall arc. Still, it would be interesting to revisit the show concepts that were left in the writers room in some kind of eventual WandaVision continuation...if, that is, Marvel was interested in such things.
"That is one of the things that I super can’t talk about," Schaeffer said when asked about a possible second season of the series. "I will just reiterate what [the Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige says: We set out to make a very complete and satisfying series. But with an entity like the M.C.U., you never know."
All episodes of WandaVision are now streaming. A documentary special titled Assembled: The Making of WandaVision arrives Friday on Disney+.