Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wilfred: Man's Best Nightmare

Four seasons of Wilfred over the week has finally come to an end and I am still not sure if Ryan found happiness. The show is about a man named Ryan who is trying to commit suicide when his neighbor asks him to watch her dog Wilfred last minute due to an emergency. To the world, Wilfred is a dog, to Ryan, he is an Australian guy in a dog suit that talks to him. This quirky buddy comedy follows the adventures of a man and his neighbor's dog and their very screwed up relationship. Wilfred is four seasons long and originates from Australia. It will also have its own version of the show reincarnated on Russian television soon.

Ryan still can't believe he is getting baked with a talking dog
Down and Dirty : [Just How You Like it]

Wilfred is funny and adorable comedy, but does get a bit bizarre toward the end. The conclusion wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped because it was inconclusive on Ryan's happiness. Perhaps the answers were never meant to be sought by Ryan, but experienced and understood as one large adventure of life.

A theme that is prevalent throughout the series is the philosophy of dogs coming into your life at the right time for a reason, much like guardian angels. But think of this dog as more of a bad acid trip as Ryan tries to figure out whether Wilfred's existence is real or if he is just crazy like his mother.

The first two seasons are light-hearted and tug at the heart strings. One of the more unique things about the series is with the start of each episode a quote appears and a word pops into the foreground, becoming the theme of each episode. While the ending of each episode has some of the best parts as you get to spend time watching Ryan and Wilfred interact in their own very screwed up way. The entire show is very psychological and delves into pieces of emotional issues that the audience can relate to. By Season 3 and 4, the theme of the show becomes really dark as they spend a lot of time screwing with your head about Wilfred's existence. This show grows tremendously on you and is therapeutic in certain ways when you start reflecting on your own life.


The first few episodes are maybe strange for some people, but the connection with the characters and their relationships catch on quick. What is great about this show is the perception of people rather than the people themselves. Everyone is human and no one is a strong stereotype of a type of person, but rather good people with flaws. Making them balanced and likable characters no matter where they stem from personality wise.


Ryan is very much like the rest of us. Doesn't know where he fits in with the world, has issues holding him back and isn't sure how to fix them.

Elijah Wood is adorable as the sensitive, lost soul and does an amazing job at portraying Ryan's struggles. Because of this, Ryan is a very likable character, even when he is wrong. His relationship with Wilfred at first is strange, but he becomes very dependent on his charming bastard of a friend as time goes on. Ryan learns a lot about himself and the pain he struggles with when Wilfred forces him to address them little by little. The best scene in the series is when Ryan is crying over his break up with Amanda and Wilfred curls up to him to comfort him. As screwed up as their relationship was, Ryan needed Wilfred as much as Wilfred needed him.


Wilfred is Jenna's dog that she has had since he was a pup. To everyone else, he is an actual dog, but what he looks like to Ryan is something more, the friend he never had. Wilfred has been called everything from a demon to a mystical creature to a God. But whatever he is, he came at the right time when Ryan was in need of a friend the most.

Because of this, Ryan's existence becomes less dark and lonely and more chaotic as he tries to control Wilfred's insistent desire for him to face his demons. The most interesting part about Wilfred is how well Jason Gann wrote in the dog like behaviors and details of Wilfred's character. Sure he is mostly an obnoxious animal who doesn't seem to have any discipline, but he is amusing, charming and downright fun to watch. The things he says is the best part about his character as he uses colorful language and coughs up hair brain ideas to drag Ryan into.


Jenna is Ryan's crush. She is literally the girl next door and Ryan spends most of his time trying to tell her how he feels, but never ends up gaining the courage to so do. We spend a lot of time watching Ryan do things to impress her and eventually stay away due to Jenna's boyfriend being around.



Drew is Jenna's boyfriend and eventual husband in the show. Drew is a macho man, but not as douchey of a character as people might think. We want to hate Drew, but he really isn't that bad of a guy and he treats Ryan like a friend even though they have nothing in common besides being neighbors and Jenna's dog, Wilfred. He may not be the sensitive, romantic type, but he is a nice person and I really liked him up til the end, despite my urge for both Ryan and Jenna to be together.




Bear is basically a semen filled, giant stuffed teddy bear that is Wilfred's favorite toy and supposed life partner [its complicated]. Wilfred rescues Bear from the clutches of the evil Doggy Day Care owner and constantly abuses Bear by yelling or sometimes hitting her when he is angry. Bear is pretty much the bizarre accomplice to Wilfred's games and Ryan only tolerates Wilfred's behavior with Bear because of the fact that she isn't a living creature.

Wilfred talks to Bear like Ryan talks to Wilfred, paralleling their relationship in a very interesting manner. Wilfred is just as obsessed and attached to Bear as Ryan is attached to Wilfred. While nobody can hear what Wilfred is saying to Ryan, Ryan can't hear what Bear is saying to Wilfred.



Kristin is Ryan's bossy, controlling sister. She constantly manipulates Ryan to do what she needs and yet is caring in her own zealous way. Kristin is an accomplished doctor who feels the need to lie about her less than perfect life and continue the image of a stable person even when she is not. She gets along well with Ryan's father, but is not so close to her mother. The opposite of Ryan in pretty much all aspects.


The story has a certain structure to it. A themed word for each episode and a lesson for Ryan to learn during that time. Ryan is complicated in a sense. He is sensitive and a people pleaser. He rather lie than admit a damaging truth. Wilfred constantly exposes his problems throughout the series with his dastardly nonsensical ways that totally mess with Ryan's life. Only then is Ryan forced to come clean and grow as a person. The first two seasons are fun and wacky while the last two seasons get really trippy and dark. The reasons why they decided to change the series up so dramatically is questionable at best. It does become interesting and exciting to attack the question of what is Wilfred only to be lead through windy paths and down rabbit holes. The show keeps you guessing and in a sense, is still a good watch regardless of how screwed up it becomes.

This is every pot smoker's Friday night.
Dog vs. Man:

The strange relationship between Ryan and Wilfred is particularly special in the show due to Ryan being the only one that can hear him. Even though this would be totally strange for a normal person, he rolls with it and never seems to question Wilfred's existence much until later when he realizes Wilfred is a total manipulative bastard. There is a LOT of irony in this show and the absurdity of the situations they get themselves into makes it even better.

Questionable Presents Wilfred Would Leave on Your Lawn:

1. Ryan talking to Wilfred:

Its really a miracle how long Ryan goes without anyone among his family and friends notices he talks to Wilfred or talks to himself in general. I mean he had a room mate for a while and she had to notice at some point how much Ryan talks to himself alone. Also haven't they noticed the multiple times Ryan stares at Wilfred and making the "WTF" face all the time? I mean they probably could chalk it up to him being a lazy pothead, but not once did they question his weird mannerisms?

Bruce asks the same questions as Jigsaw. They must be related.
2. Who the Hell is Bruce?:

Bruce is this random guy that comes around and screws with Ryan and Wilfred. We don't know much about why him and Wilfred are friends, nor do we understand why Bruce can also see Wilfred. We just know the guy is a creepy weirdo. We do however get to find out a bit more about him in the end.

3. Wilfred Should Have Died from Diabetes:

As much human food Wilfred eats on the show, its a surprise he didn't die in a few months. We see him eat everything from nachos to cheese puffs to shit to chocolate and everything in between. We rarely see Ryan cook food, but often has take out or snacks with Wilfred. I would be surprised if Jenna kept buying him dog food after a while since he practically eats all the time at Ryan's place.

4. Drew is Very Stupid:

Throughout the show Ryan hides his feelings for Jenna due to Drew being around. But he is always doing nice things for her, its a wonder Drew never at least suspected something earlier. Especially since Ryan was single the majority of the show and is always thoughtful of what Jenna wanted. Drew is either a very trusting guy or very dense. I think he is a little of both.

All dogs are art connoisseurs at heart.
5. The Basement:

All the way til the end we STILL don't fricken know if the basement exists or if it was still all in Ryan's head. In one of the seasons it was suggested that the basement didn't actually exist and it was all in his head. Instead of finding a basement, Ryan finds a closet and freaks out. Then he rediscovers the basement later. The question still remains at the end after Ryan realizes what is going on if the basement actually exists.

6. Mortgage Due:

Ryan is unemployed the majority of the story. How much did Ryan make before he just quit his job and tried to commit suicide? He spends a good portion of 4 years on and off employed with really long stretches of unemployment and heavy pot smoking. That has to get expensive with the house he lives in and everything else. And in California no less!

7. There are Tons of Loose Ends:

The show jumps around about the mystery of Wilfred, but never explains quite clearly whether Wilfred really is a God or Ryan is just bat shit crazy. They do tie up the majority of the questions at the end, but Wilfred still remains the ultimate mystery. What Wilfred states can not be accounted for as truth in this situation since Ryan is also considered to have a similar condition of illness as his mother. So what Wilfed says could be what Ryan wants to hear. Maybe Ryan's happiness just depended on him being OK that he was freaken delusional.

Couch surfing is hard work, bro.
8. This Couch:

Seriously? Does this couch even exist on the beach in Venice? I'm starting to question my own sanity if this couch is real. This looks like the same couch in the basement. So is Ryan really ever on the beach or is he just pretending he is on the beach?

9. Jenna is the Worst Dog Owner Ever:

Not only does she pawn Wilfred off to Ryan whenever she can, she never seems to keep track of her dog. Wilfred is always wandering out of the home and into the streets or Ryan's yard. She can never find him, keep control of him or has any time to take care of him. Its a surprise she didn't just let Ryan keep him considering he seemed to take care of the dog most of the time.

1O. Weed Head:

Is it me or does Ryan have some great cleaning skills? Why do the characters never comment that his home smells like weed? Considering he not only smokes both down and upstairs, you would think that stuff would totally be in the cushions, the walls, the floors, everything.

11. What Major Event was Meant to Happen?:

In one of the episodes Wilfred states a major event was going to happen. Men would cry, babies would burn in a fire, or something of that manner. By the end of the episode, its still inconclusive what exactly was going to happen that was major nor does it get pointed out later in the episodes. Its like they just forgot about it.

12. Lord of the Rings

HA. Elijah Wood can never escape being the RING BEARER for everyone. I love these scripted inside jokes.

Love at first sniff.
Overall I liked the first few seasons of Wilfred. It did get really weird after a while and strangely confusing in the fourth season with Ryan's heightened paranoia. It also didn't really give a happy ending exactly, but left it open to interpretation and perhaps an eventual lead in to a movie.

But as far off the beaten path it went, it eventually circled back to the main message toward the end. Animals were put here to guide us, simplify us and to help us come back to what matters. That the simple things in life are the most pleasurable and being true to yourself is the only way to live. Wilfred pulls at the heart strings of all animal lovers. And as the saying goes, you don't pick the animal, the animal picks you. If you ever had a dog, loved a dog, lost a dog, or currently own a dog, you will enjoy what Wilfred has to offer. At least for the first few seasons.

What version was your favorite? The American or the Australian?

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DnD Rating: 7/1O

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