A Guide To All The Sitcom References In ‘WandaVision’
The series is a dream for anyone who grew up watching reruns of classic sitcoms.
WandaVision is about a lot of things. As the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series produced for streaming, the Disney+ original is about expanding the MCU by exploring two of it’s most beloved characters, Wanda Maximoff and the Vision.
But as much as the series is for MCU fans, its also for sitcom fanatics. Throughout the series, we watch as Wanda and Vision live out an almost satirical domestic fantasy inspired by decades of sitcom tropes and aesthetics.
This article will be updated as new WandaVision episodes air, as a guide to where and how the show references sitcoms — and eventually, maybe, we’ll be able to discuss why.
Before we start, please be advised this post is not spoiler-free. And if you’re looking for more Wandavision content, our MCU reference guide is right here.
Episode One: “In Front Of A Live Studio Audience”
WandaVision‘s debut episode throws us straight into 1950s sitcom territory. From the production design, the 4:3 black and white photography, and the nostalgic set and costume design — Wanda and Vision’s relationship in this episode draws heavily on the post-war domesticity of classic sitcoms like I Love Lucy, Leave It to Beaver, The Honeymooners, and The Dick Van Dyke Show, with Dick Van Dyke himself even consulted on the first two episodes.
When WandaVision‘s creators asked Van Dyke the secret to the silly physical-comedy gags of old sitcoms that never feel false, he answered: “If it couldn’t happen in real life, it couldn’t happen on the show”.
This is perfectly shown in the final dinner sequence of the first episode. The comedy is not necessarily based on Wanda and Vision being outsiders with superpowers, but is grounded in neither of them remembering that Vision’s boss is coming to dinner and their having to scramble to get a meal together to impress their guests.
Even Wanda’s powers and their subsequent special effects are straight out of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. In WandaVision‘s first two episodes, Wanda’s powers aren’t expressed with her usual red glow, but practical levitation and obvious jump cuts garnished with chintzy chiming bells.
For the most part, the episode brims with an upbeat tone that is nostalgic of post-World War II sitcom optimism, with all the references to bolster it. But when the episode steers suddenly into a darker tone, even this has a reference point. As Vision’s boss, Mr Hart, questions where the couple is from, he begins to choke on his dinner. The table sits in awkward silence with Mr Hart choking and Mrs Hart’s uncanny chipper pleading to Wanda to stop. After a minute, Wanda breaks her domestic housewife routine, commanding Vision to help Mr Hart, and just like that the scene returns to normal.
The scene feels like something straight out of the original series of Rod Serling’s sci-fi anthology series, The Twilight Zone. Running from 1959, The Twilight Zone was notorious for dangling disturbing science fiction concepts in front of its audience with little to no offer of comfort. Often the show merely remarked on the strangeness it had just portrayed and carried on. The expectation for the audience to accept the uncanny that was central to The Twilight Zone lives on in WandaVision. I mean, let’s not forget, Vision is dead after all.
Episode Two: “Don’t Touch That Dial”
Episode two really ramped up the Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie references. The opening credits themselves are an obvious homage to Bewitched‘s iconic animated credits. Even the episode’s stunning ending in which Wanda and Vision see the world shift into technicolour mirrors I Dream of Jeannie. After 30 episodes, I Dream of Jeannie had a similarly dramatic shift into technicolour.
— 🦢 (@__valfoy) January 16, 2021
In the opening scene, Wanda and Vision are sleeping in separate single beds, but by the end of this cold open Wanda has fused the beds together into a double bed, and her and Vision are clearly gettin’ busy. This reflected a historical shift in film and television in the ’60s and ’70s brought on by the dwindling influence of the Hays code.
The code prevented men and women sharing beds on film and television but by the late ’60s and ’70s, this was changing. Bewitched was the first sitcom to break the trope of couples sleeping in single beds when witch Samantha and her mortal husband Darren shared a bed. Considering WandaVision‘s bewitching opening credits, it’s only perfect that Wanda should break the single bed rule for herself and Vision in homage.
The visual effects for Wanda’s powers were still executed in the practical style of pre-CGI sitcoms. Even as Wanda and Vision partake in a local talent show as a magic act (yet another parallel to a Bewitched plot), the visual effects are still mostly achieved with the obvious jump cuts in the style of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.
WandaVision emphasises and explores the fanciful lies of sitcoms, and it might be too early to say but this episode does an exquisite job of criticising sitcoms in a comedic way. Vision’s drunken rant at the talent show — “Tonight we will lie to you, and you will easily fall for it, because humans have a limited understanding” — both critiques the series and perfectly sums up the appealing falsehood of television in general.
Episode 3: “Now In Technicolour”
Aesthetically, this episode is straight out of the family sitcoms of the 1970s. Drawing from The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father — the episode’s opening credits specifically meld the openings of The Brady Bunch, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
The montage of Wanda and Vision shopping and being out on the town is a direct callback to the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, while the collage of Wanda and Vision in hexagon tiles calls back to The Brady Bunch. The theme song itself is very reminiscent of the jingle for the 1969 series, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
— Marvel Legion (@Marvel__Legion) January 23, 2021
As the episode begins, Wanda and Vision’s house has been retrofitted into a slick funky middle-class home, complete with ultra-modern stairs reminiscent of the homes in All in The Family and The Brady Bunch.
It’s also worth nothing that Wanda’s doctor, who is there checking up on her pregnancy, is named Dr Nielsen. Nielsen refers to Neilsen ratings, the dated-upon-arrival methodology for tracking the number of broadcast television viewers. The method was popular for gauging a television show’s success in the ’70s and ’80s, with many family homes featuring a Nielsen box that measured their viewing habits. It’s only fitting that Wanda’s doctor, who assists in maintaining the charade of family normalcy in Wanda’s ’70s sitcom life, is named Nielsen.
Wanda’s pregnancy pays hilarious homage to the nature of sitcom pregnancies. The sequence where Geraldine stops by and Wanda attempts to hide her sudden pregnancy by holding large props, wearing oversized coats, and standing behind benches parodies the numerous ways actors’ pregnancies are (unsuccessfully) covered up in popular sitcoms to this day. Geraldine doesn’t even register Wanda’s pregnancy until Wanda actually goes into labour in front of her.
Another sitcom reference is the split-screen action sequence of Wanda going into labour side by side with Vision super-sprinting to fetch Dr Nielsen. This technique was popular in action series in the 1907s, like Charlie’s Angels and Get Smart. And as if the whole aesthetic of the episode wasn’t enough, Vision practices diaper changing on a Kitty Karry-All doll — the exact doll that was attached to Cindy Brady’s hand for five seasons of The Brady Bunch.
Perhaps the biggest overarching sitcom reference in this episode of WandaVision is to the mid-1970s sitcom, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. A satirical soap opera that satirised the overused tropes and tribulations of popular sitcoms, the series preceded the popular and more well-known series Soap, which had a similar modus operandi. It’s fair to argue that withoutMary Hartman, Mary Hartman, the concept of the parody sitcom series may never have gained traction.
Episode 5: ‘On a Very Special Episode…’
After a way back to a more MCU-like reality in the previous episode, episode 5 plonked us right back into Wanda’s domestic sitcom bliss. On a Very Special Episode… throws us into a Westview that is now a pastiche of the ’80s family sitcom (and a dash of early ’90s), specifically Growing Pains, Step by Step, Family Ties, and Full House.
— Alex's Suits · WandaVision (@tmusings) February 6, 2021
Sorely missed from the previous episode were some reference-heavy retro opening credits for Wanda and Vision’s life on screen. Thankfully, episode 5 pulled through with some opening titles heavily inspired by Family Ties. Both the opening title lyrics and the homemade drawing style are specifically reminiscent of Family Ties‘ second season, and the opening titles of Growing Pains.
Composers of music for the series, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez told Entertainment Weekly of composing the song for this week’s episode, “…after the ’80s, you see fewer and fewer songs at the beginning of sitcoms and TV shows. It was their heyday. It was the brilliant starburst before the death of the sun. They’re longer. They’re touchy-feely ballads. And it was fun to really put some emotion into the one we did.”
Alongside the opening titles, the aesthetics of the episode were very reminiscent of the family sitcom, Full House. This reference is extra meta, given Elizabeth Olsen’s famous twin siblings, Mary Kate and Ashleigh starred in Full House.
Speaking of twins, it’s also worth mentioning that Wanda’s twin boys’ speeded aging is a comedic reference too. Children in sitcoms have been known to age at alarming rates, sometimes years from one season to the next, depending on storylines. Tommy and Billy’s speedy ageing is clearly poking fun at sitcoms and their strange passage of time.
tw// wandavision spoilers
The way today’s wandavision episode was literally Full House type of it, especially the intro and the fact that Elizabeth Olsen’s older sisters were in Full House#WandaVision pic.twitter.com/CiKybeIWIg
— ًmels | jensen’s day (@acklesstarr) February 5, 2021
Wanda and Vision’s new house was also a callback. The wooden stairs and stained glass windows in their home’s interior rendered it almost identical to the Keaton’s family home in Family Ties. Meanwhile, the outside shots of the house reminded many viewers of the early ’90s sitcom, Step By Step. Twitter users also pointed out Wanda’s style mirrored characters on the show as well.
It’s worth noting that the ’80s era of family sitcoms were a response to the rise in divorce, and changing gender dynamics brought on by the women’s and civil rights movements of the previous decades. Sitcoms of the ’80s didn’t shy away from representing blended families with working and/or single parental figures either.
— Marvel Legion (@Marvel__Legion) February 6, 2021
It’s fitting then, that the creators of WandaVision used the ’80s sitcom aesthetic as a backdrop for showcasing the first cracks in Wanda and Vision’s domestic bliss. Even the title of WandaVision’s 5th episode, On a Very Special Episode… is a direct reference to the phrase often used in advertisements for sitcoms of that era. The phrase, “on a very special episode…” was often shorthand to indicate that an episode was going to deal with a more serious topic.
Alternatively, “on a very special episode…” also indicated there was possibly going to be a special guest star. Given the darker themes of death, grief and betrayal in the episode, along with the appearance of Wanda’s twin brother, Pietro (portrayed here by Evan Peters’ X-Men Cinematic Universe version of the character), it’s fair to say the episode’s title was apt, to say the least.
— jasper (@DIORLOKI) February 5, 2021
Episode 6: ‘All-New Halloween Spooktacular!’
6 chapters into this truly bonkers series and WandaVision‘s latest Halloween themed episode is vying for the episode with the heaviest sitcom references yet. Unlike previous eps which aimed for a more homage-in-bulk approach, layering episodes with references to multiple sitcoms of a certain era (see: episode one’s multi-layered Bewitched, I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, etc. take), this week needed only one. That one? Malcolm In The Middle.
Right from the start, we’re treated to anarchic opening credits paralleling the upbeat rock and roll chaos of Malcolm In The Middle‘s iconic “Yes, no, maybe..” opening right down to the same font being used for the characters’ names. But the Malcolm In The Middle inspiration didn’t stop there.
I love how this weeks episode of #WandaVision is pretty much paying homage to Malcolm in the Middle. And since that’s my favorite sitcom of all time, my heart blushed #LifeisUnfair pic.twitter.com/a8aIJYd43r
— G’Colby Porter (@MCDeadpool3) February 12, 2021
The cinematography of the episode was also a nod to MITM’s signature style. Despite being a single-camera family sitcom, Malcolm In The Middle had a lot of odd shots and editing tricks that weren’t typical for sitcoms at the time. The split diopter shot of Pietro (Evan Peters) lying awake on the couch while the twins discuss him in the background at the episode’s start is a clear reference to this quality.
Split diopter shots are not easy to get. They require a special lens with two focal points that provide the blurred split down the centre. While it’s a small detail, this is very on par for an episode paying dues to MITM. MITM was infamous for experimenting with the limits of sitcom cinematography, featuring lots of out-of-the-box camera angles and cinematography that make up part of the reason why the series is still so beloved years later.
#WandaVision okay but can we appreciate the split diopter lens used when Pietro is sleeping and the twins are talking? Because that’s commitment to the aesthetic. You can tell because it’s blurry in the middle, an old technique so the background and foreground are in focus pic.twitter.com/pEwNe14vYp
— toffee (@toffeefeathers) February 13, 2021
Both Wanda’s sons, Billy and Tommy, also directly address the audience throughout the episode, but the adults don’t. This is an exact replica of the way Malcolm (and occasionally his brothers) broke the fourth wall in MITM. Throughout the episode Billy addresses us the way Malcolm did in MITM, clueing us in on the gossip behind the currently strained family dynamic in the Maximoff household, as well as telling us why he loves Halloween.
Malcolm in the Middle was also renowned for its honesty at depicting a working-class family in which a distant oddball father worked an aimless office job, while the controlling mother balanced the chaotic home life of raising three strange and irritating boys with her own work-life.
This is perfectly echoed in WandaVision, as Wanda begins to lose grips on the reality she’s created we see her become a little more controlling, erratic and frustrated like Jane Kaczmarek’s unhinged and inspired performance as Lois in MITM. Meanwhile, Vision’s continued attempts to distance himself from Wanda and her control to see what’s outside of WestView, while still trying to maintain the charade so Wanda doesn’t suspect his distrust, gives him an overly distracted and overacted quality similar to Brian Cranston’s performance in MITM as Hal.
— leo ۞ (@xuxistrange) February 13, 2021
We also have the tropes present within the episode itself to discuss. The concept of the Halloween episode is a longheld tradition that continues in the American sitcom to this day. Think of the ongoing Halloween Heist episodes in Brooklyn 99, Community‘s iconic ‘Epidemiology’ episode or the numerous Halloween themed episodes of New Girl.
Finally, we have the ‘brother/in-law comes to town’ trope, a staple of the family sitcom for a long time. Pietro even says to Wanda, “I’m just trying to do my part, okay? Come to town unexpectedly, create tension with the brother-in-law, stir up trouble with the rugrats, and ultimately give you grief. I mean, that’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” In sitcoms, a sibling coming to visit is a popular way to shift up dynamics and create tension by introducing a fresh character, which Pietro undoubtedly does.
— Curtis Kimberlin Jr (@ckimberlinjr) February 12, 2021
Malcolm In The Middle was a distinctively ’90s to early ’00s family sitcom, leaving us with the late ’00s and ’10s sitcoms left for Wanda to throw herself, her family and us into. It’s anyone’s guess where the series might go, but I’m guessing we have some Modern Family mockumentary-style WandaVision still in store for us.
Randall Park, who plays Agent Jimmy Woo, spent many years playing loveable Taiwanese-American dad, Louis Huang in the family sitcom, Fresh Off The Boat, teasing the possibility of the series referencing that now he’s been sucked into Wanda’s sitcom fantasy. Also, now Kat Denning’s Darcy Lewis has been sucked into Wanda’s sitcom hex too, we may even see her reprise her role (or something eerily similar) as Max from 2 Broke Girls, leaning into the workspace sitcoms of the 2010s like 2 Broke Girls, Parks and Rec, and Brooklyn-99.
In short, I don’t think its a coincidence that Park and Dennings were cast in WandaVision when they’re two MCU actors with very notable sitcom roles in their CVs. Either way, starting next week, episodes will also be an hour-long, instead of 30 minutes. So, we shall see.
As much as WandaVision clearly has its roots in television, its more speculative elements also have roots in film. The Truman Show and Pleasantville both heavily influence WandaVision‘s set up and execution. In the second episode, Wanda’s discovery of the technicolour drone in her distinctly black and white TV world is lifted straight from Pleasantville‘s iconic colour-contrasting aesthetic. Even the way Wanda and Vision work to convince the people of Westview that they really belong there is reminiscent of the way the twins transported to TV Pleasantville must hold character at all costs.
Wandavision got me to rewatch the movie Pleasantville pic.twitter.com/93VEGqKpVe
— Hot glue and crying (@cosplaycyanide) January 30, 2021
Meanwhile, the influence of The Truman Show gleams through the strained fear beneath the facades of Westview’s townsfolk. Dr Nielsen’s remark in this episode about small towns being impossible to escape feels exactly like the numerous remarks the people of Seahaven make to Truman in The Truman Show to prevent him from leaving. Similarly, Vision’s character arch of growing scepticism toward the world around him mirrors Truman’s arch in which he learns his whole life has been a TV show.
— BluRay𝔸ngel (@BluRayAngel) January 30, 2021
For sitcom and speculative fiction lovers, such as myself, WandaVision is a dream. The series is clearly crafted with TV, film, and sci-fi fanatics in mind, as well as dedicated Marvel fans. While there’s no way to fully judge the series for what it is until its finished, WandaVision is a blast from the past, present, and future.
Episode 7: ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’
Well, friends, as I calculatedly guessed, episode 7 was in the distinctive mockumentary style of modern sitcoms, complete with the use of the talking-head confessional. Appropriately titled ‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’ the episode riffed off Modern Family and The Office with direct to camera interviews emulating the artificial intimacy, individualism, and prioritisation of relatability that typified late ’00s and early 2010s sitcoms.
To kick us off, an obvious and apt Office-esque upbeat piano riff serves as Wanda’s opening credits. Even the intro’s length, at just 40 seconds, parallels the length of The Office’s opening theme. While the personalised ‘Wanda’ cup in the opening may have also reminded you of The Office’s Michael Scott’s iconic World’s Best Boss mug, the opening’s overall aesthetic also pays homage to the work of two of the MCU’s biggest directors.
The borderline-cringe, overly saturated personalised licence plates, cups, and shopfront montage featuring Wanda’s name in the opening credits are all a homage to the opening titles of Happy Endings, a sitcom that ran from 2011-2020. That series was directed and produced by none other than the Russo Brothers, who also directed Avengers Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War.
#WandaVision said "lemme just remind y'all about one of the best sitcoms of the 2010's"
Happy Endings getting the respect it deserves! 😌 pic.twitter.com/NskXkZccDl
— 𝘼𝙜𝙚𝙄 (@agelbltzr) February 19, 2021
The credits’ oversaturated colour palette are also typical of the sitcom openings of this era. Happy Endings, 2 Broke Girls, Brooklyn 99, How I Met Your Mother, One Day At A Time, Big Bang Theory, and Arrested Development were known for the oversaturated collage-like quality of their credits.
Beyond the into running to the same length as the intro to The Office, the segments length has other significance. Over the last two decades, increased advertisement during runtimes on broadcast TV led to title sequences being shortened to allow more time for the actual content of the show to be played. Finally, to top it all off, the episode’s title card itself is in the font and style of Modern Family’s.
— liz (@filmjdw) February 19, 2021
The Modern Family references only increase from there. Wanda’s kitchen is almost an exact replica of the Dunphy’s, right down to the curtains. Even the positioning of the sofa in front of the stairs is an exact imitation of the set from where the majority of Modern Family’s iconic interviews take place. Which brings us to the most prominent Modern Family reference in the episode: the use of the confessional.
— b (@maximoffshex) February 19, 2021
The confessional is a technique interjecting interviews where individual characters usually vent about their thoughts privately to an invisible camera crew as a way to give audiences insight into the plot and characters. Throughout the episode, Wanda’s erratic actions are inter-cut with a confessional-style interview of her insisting to an invisible camera crew that she’s fine. We’re treated to Vision and Darcy’s inner thoughts via this same method too.
— sarah ✪ wv spoilers (@cherryymaximoff) February 19, 2021
Traditionally, the “camera crew” are just observers that never interact with their subjects, imitating traditional documentary (or mockumentary) interviewing and filmmaking techniques. This is what makes the moment where Wanda’s ‘camera crew’ respond to her so disconcerting for both Wanda and us. Not only because her camera person’s judgement that she deserves what is happening to her is a pretty subjectively evil call to make, but because it violates the traditional style we’re accustomed to in these kinds of series.
— Lunwi (@Lunwi88) February 21, 2021
Sitcoms of this era sharply prioritised individualism and relatability, over-representing issues of class, race, or socially relevant family dynamics. Shows like Modern Family and The Office tended to portray social issues as the incidental trials and tribulations of individuals, rather than larger collective experiences.
It’s an attitude appropriately echoed in the meme-able nonchalant portrayal of Wanda’s depression and treatment. Even the prominence of Wanda’s name only in the opening credits speaks to the individualistic approach to character that the mockumentary sitcoms of late ‘00s and ‘10s were known for.
— 🛸 (@declineusername) February 20, 2021
The prioritising relatability in these sitcoms is generally considered to have spilled over into sitcoms to compete with the ratings reign of reality television by imitating reality TV in a fictional setting. The documentary style of reality TV, while also appealing due to its relatively low budget necessities, also permitted the intimacy of feeling like characters that you loved were real and allowing you into their lives to see they were just like you.
— Elizabeth Olsen Access (@LizzieContent) February 19, 2021
On top of imitating the low budget, intimate, documentary-style filming of reality TV, the confessional began appearing in narrative sitcoms of this era too. This technique mimicked the intimacy of competitive reality shows like Master Chef, Survivor, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and many others. Modern Family and The Office popularised the technique’s use in the sitcom format.
As a result, mockumentary sitcoms are often populated by characters who were flawed, odd, sometimes downright awful (see: Arrested Development). Their appeal is in presenting one face to the world, while showing the viewer another more true face in ‘private’ to make them more sympathetic. It’s a most appropriate format if you were wanting to, say, reveal that a friendly neighbour had not been who they said they were all along.
This episode of WandaVision’s main plot point was Wanda losing control of reality, struggling to maintain the facade of control for her family, and so she finally decides to open up and overshare about it. The creators of WandaVision chose the most uncomfortably intimate style of sitcom to realise her fall from grace in yet another series of uncannily suitable homages to an era of television that provides exactly what Wanda needs.
‘Breaking The Fourth Wall’ was such a brilliant homage to Modern Family that Julie Bowen praised the episode on Instagram. The actor who played Claire in Modern Family wrote: “One year to the day since we wrapped Modern Family, and tonight we were part of WandaVision. They’ve paid homage to I Love Lucy, Bewitched, and The Brady Bunch among others…To see our show as a “classic” through the eyes of an incredibly innovative Marvel show left me speechless.”
Same, Julie. Same.
Episode 8: ‘Previously On…’
In WandaVision’s penultimate episode, the reason for Wanda’s sitcom-centric fantasy is finally explained when Agatha takes Wanda on a twisted tour of her life’s greatest traumas. The episode sees Agatha, desperate to learn the source of Wanda’s incredible magic abilities, forces Wanda to relive the hardest moments of her life by literally re-enacting them to determine if they were triggers for her powers.
The episode did not feature holistic homages to sitcoms past as in prior episodes, but in its place, the source of Wanda’s impressive sitcom knowledge is revealed and placed in context throughout the episode. In the first of four excruciating pitstops on the tour of Wanda’s traumas, we glimpse the night she lost her parents in war torn Sakovia.
Most notably in this sequence, we come to understand Wanda’s passion for sitcoms comes from her father who brought home boxsets of American sitcoms for the Maximoff family to learn English. Her father reveals a suitcase full of boxsets of all the sitcoms we’ve seen referenced throughout the series, including Malcolm In The Middle, Bewitched, The Honeymooners and many more.
— dani (@miasthermopolis) February 26, 2021
Wanda’s favourite, of course, is The Dick Van Dyke Show, a boxset of which Wanda’s father keeps hidden in a hole in the wall. As the memory continues to unfold, Wanda puts on her favourite episode, ‘The Walnut Episode’. It’s a fitting episode, considering it centres on the characters being unable to tell the difference between dream and reality after watching a horror film about an alien invasion. A sort of foreshadowing in reverse of Wanda’s own issues with reality.
After Wanda relives her last night with her family, the next stop on the trauma tour is the incident when the mind stone mutated her natural gifts during the time she was being experimented on by Hydra. Post her exposure to the mind stone, we see her sitting in her cell-like room watching The Brady Bunch.
The Brady Bunch episode she’s watching in her cell is the Kitty Carry-All Is Missing episode. That particular episode was heavily referenced back in episode 3 of WandaVision, which even featured the titular doll herself. Much like the episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show Wanda watches in the previous scene, this episode has an eerie relevance to her current predicament too. The episode of The Brady Bunch centres around a fake child (the doll) going missing, which could be a not so subtle reference to Wanda’s own children (who likewise may only be real so long as they remain inside the Hex) now missing thanks to Agatha.
Lying behind the next door on a stroll down Wanda’s Trauma Lane is a moment of relative relief, a flashback to Vision comforting Wanda soon after the death of her brother in her bedroom at the Avengers compound. In the scene, Wanda is borderline catatonic with her grief, attempting to numb the pain by bingeing Malcolm In The Middle (we’ve all been there).
The way sitcoms were an escape from Wanda’s trauma and grief all throughout her life. All she wanted was to pursue the happiness and peace that sitcoms presented because Wanda never had that. It’s heartbreaking and poetic all at the same time. pic.twitter.com/tVjUWhbj7x
— noelle ᱬ (@witchywandas) February 26, 2021
The episode of MITM she’s watching is ‘Health Insurance,’ an episode where Hal (Bryan Cranston) attempts to hide the fact he hasn’t paid health insurance from his wife, Lois. He takes his deception to a comic degree, bordering up the house to keep his family from getting hurt at all and needing the health insurance they don’t have. This, of course, parallels Wanda’s larger and larger attempts to hide the truth from Vision and her desperation to keep him and their family safe by confining them to the Hex.
The timing of the episode also reflects why Pietro’s main presence was during WandaVision‘s Malcolm and the Middle themed 6th episode. As it’s implied here, it’s the show Wanda most associates with the grief of Pietro’s death. So, it feels poetic that it was the episode he was most present in too, even if it was really Agatha along.
Agatha’s final destination behind the revolving door of Wanda’s darkest moments is the moment that triggered Wanda’s creation of her sitcom-centric Westview fantasy. In a heartbreaking moment, we learn Vision bought himself and Wanda a property in Westview prior to his death for them “to grow old in.” Westview pre-Hex bares little resemblance to the picturesque suburbia of Wanda’s manipulation. Her magic truly transformed Westview from what we now know was a half-abandoned town on the verge of total ruin.
Vision buying a plot of land shows that he knows that Wanda just wanted a home and a family. She wanted the feeling of security she never got in an orphanage or the streets of Sokovia. And most importantly, they wanted to grow old together. pic.twitter.com/vpv11kSflY
— noelle ᱬ (@witchywandas) February 26, 2021
The moment of Westview’s transformation is arguably where this episode of WandaVision draws its final sitcom reference. In an awesome display of grief and power, Wanda creates a power surge that builds the post-War suburbia we glimpsed in WandaVision‘s first episode, including Wanda and Vision’s own home. The style of how Wanda’s magic shapes the home, whether intentionally or otherwise, calls back to a season 5 episode of Charmed called ‘House Call’ in which an eerily similar visual effect is used to create a hidden haunted manor out of thin air.
Ultimately, it’s easy to look at WandaVision’s reveal as to why the series drew on so many sitcoms as somewhat cynical, as a story hammering home episode after episode that the escapism television offers us is shallow at best and actively harmful at worst. It’s true that WandaVision as a show is about one woman coping with her grief by immersing herself body and soul in a sitcom-soaked reality of her own creation shows the audience the harm we cause ourselves and others when we deny the truth of our reality.
But WandaVision, at least in its second to last episode, pulls off a delicate balancing act by acknowledging the ways in which television sitcoms give us an escape that allows us the space to hear the difficulties of our own lives articulated in 30 minutes or less of comedic hijinks, while also reminding us that, despite the pain, our real lives offer infinitely more. As painful as it may be, there are just more things in heaven and earth, Wanda Maximoff, than can be dreamt of in your sitcom-reality.
A new episode of WandaVision airs every Friday at 7pm on Disney+. This article will be updated as the series airs.
Merryana Salem is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian writer, critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out her podcast, GayV Club where she gushes about LGBT rep in media with her best friend. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.