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'What We Do in the Shadows' showrunner on secret farts and Familiar fights in 'The Night Market'
What We Do in the Shadows showrunner Paul Simms breaks down the show's most ambitious creature episode, "The Night Market."
Since FX's What We Do in the Shadows is so vampire-centric, it's sometimes easy to forget that there's a whole world of other supernatural creatures also hiding in plain sight. The series has introduced a few others in previous seasons like werewolves, daywalkers. zombies, and witches. But, showrunner Paul Simms tells SYFY WIRE they decided to really open up the Monster Manual and travel to the place where the vampires hang out with others of their supernatural ilk in this week's episode, "The Night Market."
In the episode, Nadaj (Natasia Demetriou), Laszlo (Matt Berry), Young Colin (Mark Proksch), Nandor (Kayvan Novak), and Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) venture out on a shopping expedition to the famed but hidden supernatural Night Market. Inside, Lazlo schools Young Colin on the truths behind fairy tale creatures like garbage fairies and gnomes, Nadja does some strategic trading to cut off her wraith strike at the club, and Nandor and Guillermo get egged into a Familiar fight.
With so many revelations and an unexpected ending, SYFY WIRE got Simms to unpack some of the crazier jokes and how they were able to pull together such an impressively grand episode.
Was the concept of the Night Market something you had to wait to do until this point in the show's run because of its scale, budget, and the VFX required to pull it off?
Yeah, I think our co-writer William Meny had that idea from the beginning. We're often looking for ways to show the other supernatural creatures that exist just below the surface of our normal world. And that seemed like a perfect place to bring them all together. And Familiar fights was just something that as soon as someone said that phrase, we thought it was very funny. And it all seemed to go together. The episode is, visually and stunt-wise, our most ambitious episode yet. It's just gigantic.
Usually shows have to place an episode this big in a finale slot to give production and post-production enough time to pull it off. Did you have to do that?
Yeah, we've been preparing for it from the beginning [of the season]. And I gotta give all the credit to Shayne Fox, our production designer, and Yana Gorskaya who directed it. We've never done anything in a space that big before. A lot of it was really filling up the space because I don't like it when there's crowds but [a show] can't really afford enough people to make it look like a crowd. We shot that at an old abandoned power station in Toronto that already looks like a weird back drop. [Laughs.]
Let's talk about the greatest low rent Harry Potter riff ever: the subway "Transylvania 6-5000" fart joke. How did that come into being?
I think the origin was that first we thought there should be a secret train to the Night Market. And then we thought, "How is there going to be a secret train that no one knows about?" And then we thought, "Maybe there's some way to get everyone who's not a supernatural creature off the train before it goes to the special stop." From all of our own normal experiences riding the subway, there's always either people fighting or an overly annoying subway performer who makes you go, "Ugh, I'm gonna move cars." I do love it though because at the beginning of that scene, the guy comes on and you're almost like, "This is mean. Are they making fun of this guy?" But instead, it makes you think the people you might overlook on a daily basis might be all powerful supernatural creatures with a plan. I also liked all the subtleties that after all the civilian, human people get off, then you see the supernatural people taking off their hats. They were all there the whole time and that they all walk amongst us.
Later on, the Familiar fight gets way out of hand. Was that because of simmering resentment between Guillermo and Nador or just over-excitement?
We just wanted it to be two guys who realized the best way out of this is to just have a make believe, play fight. But both their egos get the best of them. [Laughs.]
Are we supposed to think Guillermo is really hurt or dead?
He's not really dead. But a lot of this season is about Guillermo having gotten sucked back into taking care of all these people, less for vampiric reasons and more just because he has a feeling of obligation and maybe codependency. But this season, you see Guillermo really take control of his own life. He's such a sweet character, but you see him this season really starting to look out for himself. And you also get to meet his entire family in an episode that's really fun to see Guillermo with his grandmother, his mother, his cousin, his aunt, and see the dynamic of where he came from. That's a super fun episode.
New episodes of What We Do in the Shadows premiere on Tuesday nights on FX and Hulu.