What We Do in the Shadows is one of my favorite shows currently airing. It focuses on the foibles of a house full of vampires who regularly have a rotating cast of friends and familiars pop in. The resident familiar, Guillermo de la Cruz (Harvey Guillén), is another constant, and he is arguably the heart of the show.
He is also a badass. Probably the baddest badass in the series. And as a chubby Latino playing a human being in a show full of supernatural powerhouses, the fact that Guillermo de la Cruz can not only hold his own, but totally fucking destroy any of the undead creatures he’s surrounded with, is absolutely incredible. As a plus-size actor of color, Guillén told the Advocate earlier this year, he has had to constantly fight, even with his agents, to be taken seriously and to land roles that reflect his talent and training.
Watching Guillermo be big on screen, and kick ass and take names, is a wonderfully validating thing to see. Bigger actors are already pretty scarce on screen, and usually relegated to roles that play up their size for comedy. Guillermo, however, doesn’t have to avoid or make excuses for anything; he gets to be exactly who he is and he gets to be one of the best fighters in the series, stunts and all. He’s competent, dangerous, and takes on challenges that would have any other human running for the hills. Although he’s been showing off his fighting skills since season two (when he embraced his legacy as one of Dracula foe Van Helsing’s descendants), season three and the current season four have given him some absolutely epic smackdowns.
Honestly, one of my favorite parts of What We Do in the Shadows is when Guillermo gets to put the smackdown on his “master,” Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), in season three. As Guillermo and Nandor get into it and Nandor is thrown on his back. Guillermo then climbs on top of a coffin, yells “Plancha!” and jumps over to body slam Nandor. Most of you can probably guess that this is a classic lucha libre move, and it’s perfect. This is peak television. I love an action star who can hold his own and be comedic without ever making the joke about his weight.
Season four episode “The Night Market” gave us another absolutely epic fight scene after Nandor is goaded into volunteering his familiar (technically, his bodyguard) for a cage match in which Guillermo is pitted against other familiars. His first bout is against a man who looks like you would expect a burly pit fighter to look. He’s big, shirtless, buff, and is the current champion. And Guillermo wipes the floor with him. And every other familiar. This B-plot is so fun and satisfying to watch because everyone underestimates Guillermo because of the way he looks—and every single fight he gets into, he wins. And there’s not a big deal made of it either! He just goes in, does his thing, gets in a few backflips, picks up a dozen different weapons, and kicks ass. Hail to the king.
So here’s to you, Guillermo de la Cruz! A chubby badass, a vampire killer, the softest boy, he who brings death to the undying. I hope you and Nandor get to kiss at least once. But not before you get in a few more fights.
What We Do in the Shadows airs Tuesdays on FX and streams on Hulu the next day.
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