Marvel Studios is one weekend into its new slate of projects in Phase 4, with WandaVision already making headlines after its first two episodes. The story surrounding the Scarlet Witch and the android formerly known as JARVIS is slowly captivating audiences while giving every indication that this will be one of the wildest stories the MCU has put to screen.
This show is taking a different route in its storytelling formula from its predecessors by utilizing at least six eras of network television as a vessel through which it will deliver the plot. The show started by emulating 1950s shows like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show before fast-forwarding a decade into an episode paying tribute to the 1960s series Bewitched .
Both of these episodes did a fantastic job not only capturing the essence of the time in which they were set, but also mimicking the feel of the specific shows used as inspiration. In a recent interview, one of WandaVision's stars shed some light on another sitcom that will be referenced as the show progresses.
WANDAVISION TACKLES THE 21ST CENTURY
Speaking with Variety , WandaVision star Elizabeth Olsen revealed that the team used the 2000s sitcom Malcolm in the Middle as inspiration for a later episode of Marvel's debut Disney+ series. While describing how the show's episodes evolve through the eras of network TV, Olsen described the "cynical" nature of sitcoms from the 21st century and how the team found that style of comedy "comforting" :
"As we move into the 2010s comedy, the sitcom becomes really cynical. The humor, like Malcolm in the Middle and then Modern Family, becomes incredibly cynical, and that’s what we found comforting, for whatever reason, as a society."
WHAT THIS MEANS
A January 2021 TV spot for WandaVision confirmed that the show will include a Modern Family -inspired episode with discussions straight into the camera, which is still likely a few weeks away from premiering. As WandaVision proved in its first week, each episode pulls bits and pieces from multiple shows of the particular era used for the plot, and this continues that trend going forward.
Malcolm in the Middle made a name for itself with a run of 151 episodes between 2000 and 2006 by utilizing the services of Hollywood mainstay Bryan Cranston, rising star Frankie Muniz, and others. Muniz's Malcolm is revealed as a genius early in the show's plot, and as the middle child of an eccentric family, he experiences quite the rollercoaster ride as he grows through adolescence.
The 21st century changed many aspects of every day life, including the entertainment industry, as more cynicism and adult-oriented humor filled the airwaves. Elizabeth Olsen's comments on how she and the team behind WandaVision found this style of TV cinema to be comforting does make sense, especially since it's the era that is most familiar to everyone involved. Malcolm in the Middle and Modern Family are two of the most successful TV sitcoms of the last 20 years, and it will certainly be a fun blast to the past seeing how Marvel Studios shows Wanda and Vision's lives through that lens.
WandaVision's first two episodes are available to stream now on Disney+. Episode 3 of the MCU series will premiere on Friday, January 22.