Although they live in filth and can sometimes be found slumming at a community-center gym that smells like old socks, let us never forget that vampires are snobs. Never mind that the well-dressed and capable (if not necessarily better adjusted) Guillermo was the product of public schooling — bah! Behold the besweatpanted idiot next door, ye communists, and tremble at the superior might of a private-school education!
Okay, to be fair, Laszlo’s objection to sending Colin to public school isn’t political. He might be an immortal bloodsucker who views humans as either useful idiots or walking bags of blood, but he’s not a Republican. He’s just a good old-fashioned posh idiot, for whom Greek, Latin, and being whipped bloody by a stern older man are essential for building the sophisticated tastes and impact-play fetishes of a proper British gentleman. I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around, and in England they call the fancy schools that cost money “public schools,” but whatever. This is a North American show, and we’ve had more than enough “Who’s on First?” gags this season already.
Nadja, for whom Laszlo gave up his aristocratic lifestyle centuries ago, isn’t impressed. She’s heard all this bullshit before and is clearly rehashing a century-old grudge when she puts on her human voice and says, “I couldn’t possibly say anything, but Lionel fucking Barrymore’s kids might just go here.” (The question there is, why were the vampires hanging around an academy for the children of the rich and famous in the 1920s?) She’s more of a nouveau riche type who spends everything she’s got — look at me, acting like I know what rich people are like — and just assumes that Nadja’s is making “trillions” of dollars in revenue thanks to “Baby Colin” (we’re retiring “Nü-Colin” now that the show has given us an official replacement, the same way we begrudgingly started saying Grogu instead of Baby Yoda) and his nightclub act.
Nandor’s suggestion that maybe Baby Colin might do well at a performing-arts academy is a good one; he might actually meet other 9-year-olds who enjoy Stephen Sondheim at one of those. But alas, it’s just not elite enough for Nadja and Laszlo, the boy’s default adoptive parents who found him in a tree or whatever and decided to make him their own. (Why no discussion of sucking and fucking when they’re on the couch together? They certainly do plenty of it.) And that’s fine, because that’s the setup that’s needed to get to the meaty center of “Private School”: The extended interview scene that takes up much of this episode’s run time.
It’s a wonderful showcase for the cast’s talents, which I’ve always felt shine the brightest when the entire ensemble is onscreen together. (Case in point: the excellent season-three episode “The Escape,” where they track the Sire to a big-box store in Ozone Park.) The scene is heavily edited, so we only get short snippets of whatever improv took place on set. This is common on What We Do in the Shadows; when I went on a set visit in 2019, a sequence that played out as one long improvised take was cut up for the final episode. (And that’s fine — I, for one, got more than enough of the “set up a wide shot and let ’em rip” school of comedy filmmaking in the mid-2010s.) Still, the comedic performance in each of these segments was impeccable, with everyone chiming in at just the right time with sweaty-palmed insistence, mumbled indifference, and/or operatic trilling.
Like (I assume) many of you, I’ve always been especially fond of Matt Berry’s melodious line readings. But Natasia Demetriou snatched the crown right off of his head this week. Her nervous, high-pitched exclamations that dotted the interview scene were brilliant — I was especially fond of her singing, “Heeeee’s niiiiiine!,” although “did this bitch just say what I think he said?” also left me in stitches — as was the timing of her snaps. (Props to the show for staying morbid and killing off both real-life Impractical Joker Sal Vulcano and the principal.) After watching the episode, I recommend going back to the 17-minute mark for an absolute master class in banter.
What really lifted “Private School” above other recent episodes of the show, however, were the visual gags, little details that grounded the high-wire act of this week’s dialogue. Nandor’s plastic-surgery journey was commented upon in the text, of course. But the progression of the gag throughout the episode, as his eyes narrowed and his cheeks receded behind layers of magical filler, was mostly visual. And Nandor stumbling around as a result of not being able to see over his inflated cheeks was an entirely visual bit, which peaked with the moment where he struggles to set down the tea tray, then drops an overripe banana into the principal’s water glass.
Speaking of visuals — once again, I tip my hat to the wardrobe department for the visual storytelling of the vampires’ different ideas of what “human clothes” look like. Apparently, Nandor last checked in on human fashion in the ’40s, and Nadja around the time of Lady Bird Johnson. But Laszlo’s flame shirt/bucket hat/ball chain/wide-legged jeans combination was especially amusing to me, a person of millennial experience. Well played.
And there’s still more plot we haven’t covered yet! It was all tacked on to the back end of the episode, to be fair, and feels like maybe it wasn’t part of the initial script for “Private School,” but was added later on in order to tie the episode to the larger arc of the season. Regardless, we find out that Guillermo has been skimming some (well-deserved, imo) money off the top of Nadja’s (the nightclub) profits and using it to support his human family on the side. Nadja (the vampire) is also embezzling, but really, I expected nothing less from this #bloodsuckinggirlboss.
It’s funny how quickly this normally meek character turned into a gangster, all bribery and intimidation, once large quantities of cash started passing through his hands — is this the old-new Guillermo who awakened during the familiar fight last week, or another incarnation entirely? We’ll find out once Nadja’s runs out of money, which should happen sometime within the next five episodes. We’re halfway there, folks!
• Jesus Christ, that still of Baby Colin gleefully staring down the broken camera right before the credits rolled was straight out of a found-footage horror movie.
• What do we think the djinn does all day while he’s chilling in his lamp waiting for a wish? I could see him being a “5 Millionaire Habits to Adopt Now” type of guy.
• “What’s the word for what you all are?” “Polyamorous.” ”I was thinking ‘filthy hippies,’ but like I said, no judgment.”
• Corporations on Pride Month: “Gay is in! Gay is hot! I want some gay, gay it’s going to be!”
• The Impractical Jokers are indeed from Staten Island, in case anyone cares.
• “You know, human stuff.” “They’re obsessed with balls!”
• “If you tell anyone this, I will kill you and your entire family, and then I will invite all your friends to their funeral, and I will kill all of them too. Your choice.”
• You may recognize guest star Peter Francis James from his work on Oz, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, or one of the more than 50 audiobooks he’s narrated over the years.
• Maybe if they had gone with the skunk and the corpse from the beginning, Baby Colin would have gotten in. Just saying.