Television often requires a certain suspension of disbelief, but the new FX comedy Wilfred (Thursdays at 10pm) takes it to a new level. The show’s premise is so outrageously preposterous that viewers have two choices: accept it or don’t watch. If you choose the latter, you’ll be missing out on one of the most hilarious and surreal comedies of all-time.
Wilfred centers on Ryan (Elijah Wood), a depressed law school graduate who tries to kill himself at the start of the series, but fails. The next morning his hot neighbor asks him to watch her dog, and while everyone else in the world sees an actual dog, Ryan sees Wilfred (Jason Gann) as a surly Australian man in a dog suit.
This is where you need to really suspend your disbelief. Wilfred isn’t a big mystery all about what’s wrong with Ryan. You just need to go along with the fact that it’s a man in a dog suit. If you think too hard about it and start to question how a dog is able to do some of the things Wilfred can do, you’ll go mad. It’s a guy in a dog suit, so any attempts to apply logic or rational thought are pointless.
Once you get past that hurdle, you’ll find that Wilfred is a demented buddy comedy where the dog tries to teach the man how to live. Gann (who also created and starred in the original Australian series) is outstanding as the deeply philosophical canine who is able to describe all of life’s biggest questions in terms a dog can understand, like the need to chase a ball. Wood is also excellent, playing the role perfectly as somehow who knows something very weird is happening to him, but he just goes along with it.
Wilfred is the kind of wonderfully demented comedy that I love. It’s vulgar and absurd, but it also has a keen interest in thoughtful debates on life. Seeing the world through a dog’s eyes helps Ryan understand himself, and it helps ground the show in some type of reality.
But at the end of the day, Wilfred is a show about a depressed guy smoking weed with a man in a dog suit, and that’s the kind of thing you either love or don’t understand. The best thing Wilfred has going for it is that the tone fits perfectly with the brilliant comedy FX has come up with. It has the same sensibility as Louie, The League, Archer and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The result is another successful and brilliant comedy for a network that has become more than just great dramas.
(Image courtesy of FX)