When it comes to fantasy and sci-fi shows that run for multiple seasons, it’s logical that one thing that becomes exponentially more complicated over time is adhering to set rules. Fans pay attention to details more than ever in the history of television, and so writers have to be careful about not creating circumstances that contradict ideas from earlier episodes. For the terrific FX original series What We Do In The Shadows, for example, there is an issue that they’ve repeatedly run into and have had to change at the last minute: vampire characters invoking the name of god or Jesus Christ.
In the Season 1 episode “Citizenship,” Nandor (Kayvan Novak) finds complications in getting his American citizenship because of the need to recite the Oath of Allegiance – which contains the phrase “under god.” Saying the name of the deity causes the vampire’s mouth to burst into flames, and, according to writers/producers Paul Simms and Stefani Robinson, it’s a detail that has inspired some last minute panic at tables reads in the years since that detail became canon.
Speaking during a virtual press event earlier this month promoting the upcoming What We Do In The Shadows Season 4, the filmmakers explained,
Paul Simms: When it comes to rules, we spend as much time discussing vampire rules as we do discussing documentary rules and adhering to those and making sure that everything is shot as a documentary could shoot it…
Stefani Robinson: Going further into the seasons, though, I feel like sometimes you forget. There's been more than a few episodes where we're at a table read about to shoot and there's a couple 'gods' in there – in dialogue, one of our vampires saying, 'god' or 'Jesus,' which is big no–no, and that we've had to scratch out and make sure we don't end up shooting because it was established their mouths burst into flames.
It’s hard to imagine that any What We Do In The Shadows writer is scripting scenes where the vampires are going out into daylight or looking at themselves in the mirror (rules that have been popularized through decades upon decades of vampire folklore), but slip-ups like this are understandable when it comes to minute rules that have been specifically introduced by the show.
That being said, it’s a kind of detail that it is always in the staff’s interest to catch, because otherwise it inspires all kinds of nitpicky commentary on social media when episodes air. Fortunately, it’s not dissuading the writers from introducing even more rules into the universe of What We Do In The Shadows, like the bizarre detail they researched involving vampires’ obsession with counting grains of spilled rice.
Needing to stay on top of these details is complicated, but Paul Simms added that there is at least one benefit of having some rules that are second nature to the audience. As an example, he made a point about scenes where the vampires are featured inside of a stranger’s home:
Vampire lovers everywhere should start getting excited, as What We Do In The Shadows Season 4 is now just a couple weeks away – scheduled for a two-episode premiere on July 12. Fans will be available to stream them with a Hulu subscription the next day after their debut on FX. Now is definitely the time to get invested, as the network has already renewed the brilliant horror series for two more seasons.
For more about what’s coming to the small screen in the months ahead, check out our 2022 TV Schedule.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.