Every once in a while, a show comes along that is so deliciously weird and wild, so outside the realm of what TV usually is, that you just have to sit up and take notice. Wilfred is a show about a man, Ryan (Elijah Wood) and his dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann). Well actually, it’s his neighbor’s dog. Well actually, though everyone else sees Wilfred as a dog, Ryan sees him as a walking, talking man in a dog suit. Something like that. The series begins with Ryan enthusiastically finishing up something he’s typing, which, when the screen is shown, turns out to be draft three of Ryan’s suicide note. This transitions into Ryan making a banana smoothie with a bottle of pills mixed in; all while pleasant music plays in the background.
This introduction sets the tone for the series: a sort of flippant dark humor with a healthy dose of melancholy. After his suicide attempt fails, Ryan’s beautiful neighbor, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) shows up at his door asking him to watch her dog, Wilfred. From there the show sets a course of Wilfred forcing Ryan to learn how to live, while at the same time taking him down a dark and absurd path of self-destruction. Also they smoke a lot of weed. By the end of the first episode, Wilfred and Ryan have broken into the house of their loud, angry ass of a neighbor, stolen his pot plants, and defecated in his boots.
What makes the series exceptional is the character of Wilfred, played by the magnetic Jason Gann. Gann is so confidently invested in the character (which he also played in the original Australian series) that the show is able to stay in the realm of believability, rather than veering off and becoming gimmicky. Wilfred is sociopathic and manipulative, as well as joyful and naïve. And most importantly, he’s a dog. One of the best parts about the character and the show are the “dogisms” that come up each episode. Like Wilfred’s blind devotion to his master, Jenna, or how he tries to poison Ryan with chocolate when Ryan offends him. When trying to show Ryan that not every question needs an answer, Wilfred says “I don’t know Ryan, why is grass gray? Why is the sky gray? Why is a rainbow gray, gray, gray, gray, gray and infra-gray?”
Elijah Wood makes an excellent straight man for Wilfred to play off of, and Fiona Gubelmann is lovely as the girl-next-door: the friend that Ryan is obsessively in love with. American Pie’s Chris Klein gives a scene-stealing performance as Jenna’s macho boyfriend Drew: a likable, overgrown frat-boy who fills every scene with some reference to Sheboygen Lager, the beer he sells for a living. Wilfred carries a strong supporting cast, something important in a show that could so easily become ridiculous.
This is a show that has fun with its’ concept. The humor runs the gamut from clever and subtle, to disgusting and brash, but no joke ever feels out of place. It’s a strong first season for a show: a bold and original comedy swimming in a pool of copycat sitcoms. If you’re looking for a show that isn’t afraid to make an off-color joke, gives interesting insight into what drives us as humans, and features a giant talking dog who smokes weed, this is the show for you.
Why We Love It: Unique humor, anthropomorphic stoner, Wilfred expresses his life’s philosophy as “Carne Diem”
For Fans Of: Community, Family Guy, Harvey