‘WandaVision’ Gets Soberingly Real With its Last Sitcom Era
With only two episodes of WandaVision to go, reality has finally caught up with Wanda, in more ways than one. Yes, the show finally reached the present day this week, just in time for the excitement and allure of Westview to disappear and become a much more cynical place.
With a couple of exceptions, WandaVision has used its sitcom structure to effectively highlight and/or subvert the feel of whatever time period Westview happens to be experiencing during the current episode. Long gone are the carefree days of the 1950s, and even the difficult lessons of the 1980s are too sugar-coated for the town by “Breaking the Fourth Wall.” All of these eras have had their blissful bubbles burst by one incident or another, and now Wanda is ready to give up on this one before it even starts. She’s not going to bother attempting to maintain hope and optimism in her children, either. She just wants some time to forget about everything, and it’s even sadder to think about when you remember that this was her whole motivation behind creating Westview in the first place.
This cynical attitude isn’t the only modern sitcom trope present in this episode. The documentary style of television that was largely popularized by reality TV eventually made its mark on sitcoms like Modern Family and The Office with characters frequently breaking the fourth wall as if they’re speaking to an interviewer (the term “mockumentary” has been coined in reference to this) and there’s plenty of that to be found here. Even characters who are trapped in “real life” are somehow able to magically pop over to an interview location to speak to the audience this week, and of course this is eventually lampshaded before the episode is over. There’s even a point at which Vision simply looks into the “regular”, non-interview camera; also a common trope of the times.
The lack of lyrics – or even character shots – also fits in with modern-day sitcoms. But those disappointed by the final Anderson-Lopez theme tune being…uneventful were surprised when a theme song for a whole different side of the story capped off the episode.
After much fan speculation, “Agnes the Neighbor” was finally confirmed to be Agatha Harkness, a character lifted from Marvel Comics but considerably changed for WandaVision (most notably in that Agatha isn’t a villain in the comics). A montage of her evil deeds throughout the eras of Westview was accompanied by her very own theme song, which was very reminiscent of the one for The Munsters, a 1960’s sitcom about a family consisting of various types of monsters (not to be confused with The Addams Family, which ran during the exact same years and had nearly the same number of episodes).
“Breaking the Fourth Wall” was the last episode of WandaVision to focus on emulating a specific era of sitcoms, but as Agatha’s theme song demonstrated, that doesn’t necessarily mean all the references are done quite yet. This episode showed the magic maintaining Westview’s eras going haywire, and it’s very likely this will escalate as WandaVision hurdles toward its March 5 finale.