Sexy witch costumes and head lasers defeat the avant-garde
WandaVision began its life as an avant-garde deconstruction of classic sitcoms. It ended with two airborne witches hurling fireballs at each other over a magic-cursed New Jersey town. That’s what the people on Twitter call a “pew pew” show.
In between, the Smart Set claimed WandaVision as its own, as a nuanced exploration of female grief and trauma. Not since Watchmen had a superhero show so claimed the hearts and minds of America’s MFAs. And then the Vision of Color threw the White Vision through the wall of a library and they zapped each other with their magic stones. Watchmen, at least, had some profound ideas behind its disjointed narrative. WandaVision was not a metaphor for COVID, or for anything else. It was just an awesome advertisement for itself.
Up through Episode 5, even, the burning question was: Which sitcom will WandaVision make fun of this week? By the end of the series, the question was: When will Dr. Strange appear? The answers, in order, were: Malcolm in the Middle, and never. And if you think this is a criticism, it’s not. I like “pew pew” shows. My main problem with the early episodes of WandaVision were that, though I enjoy a good Family Ties credit sequence parody as much as the next guy, no one had yet thrown a bus through a skyscraper. Most people are not looking for deeper meaning in their superhero entertainment. They want to see people drive trucks into magical red walls.
And, in that sense, WandaVision finally delivered. In a really depressing year, it was nice to close out the hard-core COVID lockdown era with some solid Marvel Cinematic Universe entertainment, full of magical powers, shape-shifting aliens, and sexy witch costumes. Every performance was pitch-perfect and effectively campy, and the special effects were big-screen worthy. The show featured strong women, sensitive men, and a potentially great new Black superhero. But these things are to be expected in the current environment. That’s who our heroes are now.
WandaVision did explore grief. But it explored the grief of a super-witch, forged from prophecy and a magic stone, over the death of her synthezoid husband and their two imaginary children. So, you know, this isn’t exactly kitchen-sink material. Anyone who tries to read deeper meaning into this show, or into the upcoming The Falcon and The Winter Snowman or whatever it’s called, deserves to be disappointed. Did the finale let you down? Poor you!