Wilfred is one of those high concept shows that was so bizarre when it was new, it was hard to imagine it could last. If you’ve hung with it over its four seasons, reflect on how weird it seemed then and how weird it seems now. A pilot can “teach” us to accept a show’s premise and then *bang* we’re on board.

WILFRED: L-R: Elijah Wood as Ryan and Jason Gann as Wilfred. CR: FX.Go back and re-watch the pilot. I forgot how funny it is. It might actually be funnier now, since I’m not wasting mental energy trying to figure it out. Is Ryan dreaming? Is he dead? Is he high? Can he possibly keep it secret that his neighbor’s dog is coercing him to commit petty crimes? It doesn’t matter.

Since this show was a reboot of an Australian show, also created by and starring Jason Gann, they had some practice. Maybe that’s why it feels so natural. The pilot initiates you into a world where Elijah Woods’ facial expressions and Gann’s unflinchingly deadpan delivery can sell the craziest scenario.

The plot, if you’re wondering, is that an out-of-work lawyer named Ryan tries to kill himself by overdosing on anti-depressants given to him by his overbearing obstetrician sister. Surprised to find himself alive the next morning, he’s greeted by his perky blonde neighbor, asking Ryan to watch her dog. The dog’s a dude; he talks, smokes from a bong, holds grudges, and doles out insensitive advice.

But here’s the thing. We almost immediately understand the rules. Ryan sees Wilfred as a man in a dog suit. Everyone else sees him as a dog. When Wilfred is “talking” to Ryan, others hear barking. When he humps someone’s leg, it looks like sexual assault to us, but to the characters who aren’t Ryan it’s–while kind of gross–normal dog stuff. Jenna is particularly blind not only to Wilfred’s raunchiness, but to Ryan’s affection for her.

That’s what a good pilot does. It initiates us. It doesn’t have to be set in Westeros or the year 2517 for us to accept an alternate version of reality.

After three seasons, the premise became almost boring. Ryan has angst. Wilfred prods Ryan’s angst until something terrible happens. They get high. Wilfred humps Bear. Life continues. It wasn’t until Season 4 that things are feeling truly bizarre again. Because, seriously, WTF is going on on this show right now?

4 thoughts on “Wilfred

  1. Not only do I always love and almost always agree with your blogs 😉 your style, your choices, etc. – but I have to say – I am 1,000% in agreement with you on Wilfred. I was a fan from the pilot on. Loved the 1st season. Liked the 2nd. My boyfriend and I have been wondering – exactly like you – WTF?! LOL! There were thoughts of his maybe being schizophrenic due to mom’s “cat” 😉 maybe this new cult thing? With sis and Wilfred involved? Maybe he’s in a coma still? It feels – now – like either an LSD trip 😉 or that the writers never thought it’d make it this far and are just making shit up to see how bizarre they can make it and go off in as many different directions! 😉 Or they’re changing writers who never bothered to study the first few seasons? I did like that we finally got to see our Creator 😉 But seriously: Where the hell is this going? And how are they going to end it. But yeah 😉 we’re along for the ride. 🙂 I was at ComicCon the year before or the year they launched – were you there? There were Wilfreds EVERYWHERE! 🙂 Like they dropped off a few busloads full! 😉

    Love your blogs.

    Can’t wait to see what happens next on Wilfred! 😉

    • Thank you so much for continuing to read, and for your thoughtful comments. I think you may have hit the nail on the head by saying maybe the writers didn’t expect it to last this long. The cult thing is intriguing, but could be a cop-out. We’ll see.

      Yes, I was at Comic-Con that year (and almost every year). Somewhere I have a photo of 10 or 12 Wilfreds posing outside the Hilton!

  2. Pingback: Going Off Your Meds | Anatomy of a Pilot

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