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‘What We Do in the Shadows’ Missed Hard With Its Treatment of Marwa

poor marwa deserved better

For the last few seasons, FX’s What We Do in the Shadows has managed to avoid serious accusations of queer-baiting. Even this season, when Nandor ended up remarrying his recently resurrected wife, Marwa, people could see the good—especially when Marwa was made to “like all the things Nador likes” and she kissed Guillermo’s cheeks affectionately. Then, “Freddie” happened.

Spoilers for “Freddie.”

The episode “Freddie,” written by Jake Bender & Zach Dunn, starts off with Guillermo telling us that he has been in a relationship with a British man named Freddie (Al Roberts). He met Freddie while in London with Nadja. Freddie arrives early, and Nandor ends up having a crush on him. For some reason. Since things have gotten stale with Marwa (gee, I wonder why), he decides that it’s not cheating if he asked the djinn to make Marwa an exact copy of Freddie.

That’s already pretty ick. Marwa is played by voice actor Parisa Fakhri, and she has been mostly underused since she arrived. I chalked that up to her being an in-between love interest for Nandor, and I was mostly okay with that. A love triangle with three Brown people? Two of whom are morally grey? I was waiting for this to lead to something.

Instead, Nandor and “his Freddie” just have fun all around New York City. When Guillermo finds out, he is rightfully pissed off because it is creepy, weird, and seven different kinds of boundary crosses. Eventually, regular Freddie returns to London, leaving Guillermo stuck with Nandor and Marwa/Freddie. Seeing the distress it is causing, Nandor lets Marwa/Freddie go … but doesn’t change her back because he says she seems happier this way.

Guillermo flies to London to visit Freddie, only to find that the two Freddies (not terrified of each other due to vampire hypnosis) are together. This is heartbreaking, because as Guillermo says, this was his first real relationship after just coming out!

There is a lot to unpack here,and none of it is great. Turning a woman of color into a white British man and saying she’s “happier that way” is just so bizarre, especially since Marwa isn’t in control. Since the very beginning, Nandor has been controlling her, using his wishes to chip away at her physical and mental personality. Their marriage only happened because Nandor’s wish for them to like the same things made her do it.

I thought all of that was leading up to something, especially when last week’s episode saw Marwa making a “man cave” for herself and locking Nandor out of it. I know the vampires are murderers and terrible, but the show also tries to let them get screwed over when they go too far. With Marwa? Nothing. There were so many cool ways that character could have left that could have led to character development for Nandor. After all this, what has he learned? Was her only purpose to drive a wedge between Nandor and Guillermo? And this was the best they could do? For a show that has so often subverted expectations, this was a let down.

We have one more episode left this season, and honestly, I’m ready for Guillermo to drop Nandor. It is time for Nandor to pine and work to win back Guillermo. He’s a horrible friend, and I get it, he’s a vampire, but Guillermo de la Cruz is an angel, damn it!

More than anything, I have loved this show so much, and this was the first episode that truly let me down.

(featured image: FX/Hulu)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.