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'Wet Hot American Summer': Reasons for and against its return

Earlier this week, my ping notifications lit up with the force of a camp bonfire at the news that Netflix will be releasing a Wet Hot American Summer series. People wanted to let me know because for the last fourteen years, I have made it clear to anyone who will listen that Wet Hot American Summer, the original 2001 film, is my favorite film of all time.

Wet Hot American Summer

It’s not just that I subjectively prefer Wet Hot American Summer above all other films. It changed me. It changed me in that I started seeking out more independent films. I don’t just find the movie funny; I am constantly amazed at how it subverts traditional ideas of comedy. After seeing WHAS, I knew that it was imperative that writing comedy, performing comedy, and writing about comedy be a part of my life. I know calling it “life-changing” is trite, but it’s true.


I could write a dissertation on Wet Hot American Summer. I can perform the whole film verbatim as a one-person show. This is why my friends couldn’t wait to make sure I heard the news about the Netflix show. They were sure I would be overjoyed. The truth is, I’m not.


Reasons Against:

I’m not unhappy per se; I’m just hesitant. When you love something so much, common sense tells you that you should want more of it. However, when something is so perfect, there’s a big risk in not living up to the original masterpiece. I had this fear when the fourth season of Arrested Development was released on Netflix, and unfortunately, it was a letdown.

Wet Hot American Summer did not succeed in its initial release, but in the cult following it eventually garnered. Will original writers/creators David Wain and Michael Showalter feel pressured to deliver to the fans, rather than creating their own vision for the series? Is there really any distinction between the two? Will the show take the same comedy risks? In the film, Showalter’s character Coop says goodbye to a group of people and then walks to a building and stands with his face up to the wall, not moving. It’s so weird and surreal and fantastic, but makes no sense. Will the series have the same spirit, or will its comedy be more accessible?

Reasons For:

The series is rumored to be a prequel rather than a sequel. A prequel leaves our visions of what happens after the original film up to our original conclusion, which we’ve had time to accept. In fact, during the credits of the film, there’s a short scene that takes place 20 years in the future that tells us everything we need to know about the characters. It’s a great pin at the end of the film that shouldn’t be altered. Anything that happens in the prequel will not alter the events of the first film, leaving it to its perfection.

In the film, the 30-something actors were playing teenage camp counselors, assumed to be 16 or 17 years old. In this series, the now 40-something actors will be playing even younger children, which alone is hilarious.

David Wain, director and writer, has gone on to produce films films (like the underappreciated Role Models and Wanderlust) with more mainstream appeal, and he’s done so without losing the essence of the comedy that he and the former members of The State have been making since the early ’90s. He’s a talented director and writer with an obvious fondness for the WHAS cast, many of whom have appeared in his work.

And any excuse for Paul Rudd to do more physical comedy is always welcome.


Burning Questions:

  • Will we get to see how Bradley Cooper’s Ben began his secret affair with McKinley (Michael Ian Black)?
  • Will we learn why Silas (Jake Fogelnest) broke into the office and filmed himself masturbating?
  • Is Assistant Professor Newman (David Hyde Pierce) only an assistant professor because he can’t get tenure?
  • Where did Beth (Amy Poehler) get her musical theater degree?
  • How did standup comedian Alan Shemper get his start in comedy?
  • How did Gail (Molly Shannon) and Ron fall in love?
  • What’s Gene’s origin story?


There’s a lot riding on this series for rabid admirers of the film. We’ll be watching.

Wet Hot American Summer will air sometime in 2015 on Netflix.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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