Why “Pride Parade” is A What We Do in the Shadows Cast Favorite

What We Do in the Shadows celebrates Pride in July and its cast of vampires is thrilled with the result.

Sean Rinaldi (Anthony Atamanuik) and Charmaine (Marissa Jaret Winokur) in What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 3 "Pride Parade"
Photo: Russ Martin | FX

This article contains spoilers for What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 3.

Staten Island isn’t known as the most progressive of the five boroughs of New York City. Sean Rinaldi (Anthony Atamanuik) wants to change that in What We Do in the Shadows season 5 episode 3 “Pride Parade.” If elected as Staten Island Comptroller, he promises a platform which can support everyone, and the installment is titled for his most ambitious plank.

Sean is so inclusive, he is not content to draw the LBGTQ+ communities, he wants to appeal to the LMNOPs. To do that, he needs donors who bring A, B, and O, positive and negative, to the voting booths. It’s the kind of infusion only Nandor (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo (Matt Berry), and Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), can bring to heat the chill reception expected at a wintertime, after hours, pride parade on the streets of Staten Island.

“We all get really hyper and hyperactive when it’s cold and have to film outside,” Novak tells us. “There’s something about it that just energizes everyone. It’s cold, but it’s fun.” 

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Harvey Guillén, who plays Guillermo, the vampires’ human familiar, protector, and proactive wannabe, agrees. “We always get excited when we have scenes with a lot of background,” Guillén says. “Especially, this was a pride parade scene so everyone was in rainbow boas. We were shooting at night, which is fun because you don’t usually see a pride parade at night.”

The energetic transfusion is also something only a psychic vampire like Colin Robinson can drain away.

“It was about two degrees out,” Mark Proksch counters. “You’re really uncomfortable. All you’re trying to do is be funny, and get through this scene. All I’m thinking about is being back in my apartment, trying to get warm, and fed.”

Written by Jake Bender and Zach Dunn, and directed by Yana Gorskaya, “Pride Parade” was chicken soup for the soul for the rest of the cast, which must be reading I’m OK, You’re OK along with Nandor. The episode about happy inclusivity included a cheerfully full contingent.

“It is one of the few scenes where we had everyone, the cast and guest stars, together at the same time,” Guillén says. “Usually, whenever we have Anthony [Atamanuik] or Marissa [Winokur] play with us, they focus on them and the vampires. Sometimes I don’t get to play with them.”

The Guide, played by Kristen Schaal, who is new to credits this season, has been trying to ingratiate herself into good or bad graces with the vampire clique, also clicked with the extended cast presence.

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“I got to stand next to Marissa Winokur from Hairspray,” Kristen Schaal says. “She plays Charmaine and we were on that float for a while dancing. It was really, really fun. Marissa let me sing to her, she’s a Broadway star and she let me sing right in her face. So, she got to hear what the real people sound like.”

“I haven’t really done scenes with Marissa, and she’s a friend of mine,” Guillén says. “So, we were really excited to kind of play together. It’s one of my favorite episodes.”

In spite of the celebratory spirit behind the scenes, the camera still had to labor to capture the joy in the unseasonable festivities. “It was a party atmosphere but it was still working,” Guillén says. “It was winter, so everyone was trying to keep warm because they had to be in these party outfits.”

Except one cast member, who had no outfit at all.

Over the course of the season, Nandor has felt a change in Guillermo, who slips away for scientific tests with Laszlo, doing his best to maintain a gentlemanly scientific attitude to unspeakable secrets. The unresolved jealousy drives Nandor to hitherto unknown heights of expression, propelling himself into the atmosphere where his garments burn on reentry. Nandor’s parade entrance is quite a spectacle, coming down from the skies, raining manhood. But was it a hallelujah moment?

“I guess it depends on what you take pride in,” Novak tells us. “It was a very cold evening, so I guess I was proud for the pride. But I didn’t necessarily have too much pride in my proud, if you know what I mean.”

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Demetriou’s secondary character, Doll With the Spirit of Deceased Human Nadja Inhabiting It, brings another embarrassing reveal to the episode, which turns out to be a highlight to Nadja’s float at the parade.

After fixing Nadja’s previously-undiagnosed supernatural hex, The Guide goes on to work on her doll’s most unfulfilled natural desires. This results in the most unexpected three-way the show has yet to explore, with Colin and Doll With the Spirit of Deceased Human Nadja Inhabiting It sharing Nadja’s body for a rousing duet with impossible harmonic possibilities.

“That scene was technically a pain in the butt, because we actually had prosthetics of each other on the back of our heads,” Mark Proksch tells us. “I had Tasia’s prosthetic face on the back of my head, and she had mine. You had to physically turn each time you needed to sing your part.

“That gives you a little insight into what is going through our minds during those scenes: Be funny, above all else; don’t get distracted by how uncomfortable you’re feeling; forget about having to sing in front of people, that shouldn’t even cross your mind; realize that all the complaints you’re having in your head are while you’re dressed like Nadja, but backwards; try not to screw up because Kayvan is freezing his bare ass off behind you; and just hope and pray you can get into your warm apartment before your feet fall off.”

With an endorsement like that, how can we not love a “Pride Parade” done in the shade of What We Do in the Shadows?

What We Do in the Shadows airs Thursdays at 10pm on FX.

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