Americans love sitcoms.
This is a fact of the American existence. The first American sitcom aired in 1947 —and it featured a newlywed couple’s adventures in New York City. Mary Kay and Johnny was created by real-life couple Mary and Johnny Stearns. The show did a number of things: showcased a couple sharing a bed, included a woman’s pregnancy, and generally broke a number of boundaries. It jumped from CBS to NBC.
Mary Kay and Johnny taught Americans about Nielsen ratings, was created by a couple, and spawned a number of sitcoms including the beloved I Love Lucy which ironically came after Mary Kay and Johnny. I Love Lucy ran from 1951 to 1957, a year after Mary Kay and Johnny, and set a standard for sitcoms. A wacky couple features hilarious hijinks, meets bosses, and delivers an excess of chemistry.
WandaVision is not I Love Lucy. It’s not even Mary Kay and Johnny.
WandaVision is Marvel’s first installation post Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and it is a delightful take on both. WandaVision doesn’t prepare its viewers for anything.
Instead of taking us forward (seemingly) into a world post Endgame, WandaVision takes us back. We’re dropped right into the golden age of sitcoms with a zany “housewife” Wanda and Vision, her worker bee husband.
They are Mary Kay and Johnny. They are Lucy and Ricky. They are Samantha and Darren (I’ll argue that Vision changing appearances is a nice little accidental homage to Dick York and Dick Sargeant of Bewitched fame.) At their heart, however, they are Wanda and Vision, and the first episode adds a subtle unnerving edge to their sitcom heart.
Much like America itself, there is an undercurrent of tension in the first episode. They are an unconventional couple. They don’t have rings, they don’t have an anniversary, they’re both magical, and it somehow fits in with the town that they live in with its delightful theme song.
The show introduces a nosy neighbor, a collection of side characters, and an incredibly unnerving thread that lies beneath the entire episode like a ticking clock. Wanda and Vision face a typical sitcom plot (the boss is coming for dinner!) but both Wanda and Vision question just what seems to be happening throughout the story.
Just what does Vision’s company do? Where do they live? How did they get here? It all seems disconnected and disjointed even more so when the boss’s dinner ends with what should be a gag when the boss chokes, and the facade is dropped.
It’s really hard to explain what is WandaVision? Even those who reviewed the show have only seen just a glimpse of the season. Things, however, are not what they seem in the town of Westview. It’s more Pleasantville than New York City.
There’s a subtle effect that left me wondering if it was intentional or not. Shows like I Love Lucy were shot in 4.3 aspect ratio. Aspect ratio accounts for the height and width of the screen.
It affects the depth of the field of vision that “tricks” the eye. True or not, as the facade of Westview “drops” the aspect ratio switches.
The Mandalorian, another Disney+ show, is shot in 1.78. It’s deeper and the characters are far more vivid. It’s either the action or the story or the strength of Olsen and Bettany’s performances, but it’s almost as if the whole world shifts to something more modern.
Olsen is the perfect housewife who reveals an edge you have to wonder if Lucille Ball possessed onscreen as well as off-screen. Bettany’s bumbling husband is a delightful twist, and he’s the perfect comedic foil. Unsung performances will go to the background extras. The boss and his wife (Fred Melamed and sitcom veteran housewife Debra Jo Rupp) are terrifying.
Just how? You’ll have to watch. It’s technicolor terror (despite the black and white).
We’ll be covering the entire series and breaking down just what Easter eggs you can expect from various episodes. There is a lot to unpack and it’s going to require repeat viewings to unpack it all. As far as the foot to start off on? This is the right one.
So settle in on your couch, turn on your RCA, and cook up a TV dinner. WandaVision is quality family entertainment for adults and children alike.
Are you excited for WandaVision? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
This advance review is based on the first three episodes of the season provided to critics. The first two episodes of WandaVision premiere Friday, January 15 on Disney+.