The defining characteristic of Wilfred’s third season so far has been the limiting of its scope. After the second season’s addition of multiple characters and locations, particularly in terms of Ryan’s job, this season has retreated almost entirely back to Ryan’s house. Consider Jenna’s birthday party, which seems to have dozens of people, but only Jenna, Drew, and Ryan ever even had their faces appear on camera, let alone speak (with the exception of having a gaggle of children say “yay!” for storytime). It’s a very different feel from earlier gatherings on Wilfred, like Kristen’s wedding in the first season or Jenna’s in the second, where you actually get the chance to see the people present.
That smaller scope in terms of characters and places has, so far, generally corresponded with a limiting of the kinds of stories Wilfred is telling, which have tended to be low-key and short-term. Ryan gets a roommate and comes to terms with her. Ryan sees an old crush, but doesn’t actually want to be with her anymore. And tonight, Ryan is forced to come to terms, or not, with his feelings for Jenna. The interesting thing is that the physical scope and storytelling scope don’t have to be so directly tied to one another. Last season’s best and most ambitious episode, “Truth,” took place entirely in Ryan’s house, with most of its run-time just in the basement, for example, so it’s not merely a matter of budget or logistics.
But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing for the show to pull back a little bit. “Delusion” may not be tremendously meaningful, particularly since it resolves itself putting the already-on-the-backburner Ryan-Jenna relationship to an even further-removed backburner (it’s a big stove). It is, however, one of the show’s funniest episodes yet, with Wilfred consistently dropping chuckle-worthy at minimum lines throughout the episode. In fact, the central plot, Wilfred reading children’s literature and deciding to write his own “biography,” is one of the series’ best, particularly when he starts discussing the other books as literature. (“Visit The Dentist is bitch reading.”)
The only real problem I had with “Delusion” is that I wanted more of that conceit, but the episode was somewhat oddly paced. The writing sequence only occurred after half the episode was complete, and had to be dispensed of quickly to get to the party. It’s possible that this is a case where the show leaving me wanting more was the best it could do, but I can’t help but feel like a few more Wilfred-the-literary-critic jokes would have been better than some of the Ryan-tries-to-organize-the-party bits.
Indeed, in keeping with the idea that this third season is, at least so far, much more limited in ambition, I felt like there was a deliberate choice not to make an overall metaphorical statement about the nature of storytelling and lying. Wilfred reframing his life story so that he’s always the hero isn’t so different from Ryan’s grand lies about his own life. But “Delusion” doesn’t go in that direction, maintaining a consistent breeziness instead. I’m not sure if I’d like Wilfred to maintain that breeziness throughout the third season, but for now at least, it’s fun.
- “Then why are you wagging your tail?” “Sarcastically…” Gann’s reading of this line is great and almost impossible to put into print.
- “Then I guess it’s up to Drew to make it up later that night by hitting it from the front, human-style. Can I have the business section, please?”
- “Once upon a time, there was a dog named Wilfred.” “Yeah, that’s really good!”
- Wilfred on werewolves: “Then once a month they like magically transform into these evil, grotesque humans for like 29 days.”
- I hope you all had the chance to read Steve Heisler’s Walkthrough with David Zuckerman about Wilfred’s second season. I particularly enjoyed seeing that a lot of what I like about the show’s treatment of its mythology is very much intentional.