A long time ago, back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, we would gather for what we called “Must-See TV.” From “Cheers” to “Friends,” we would drop what we were doing, and the whole family would watch, because there was probably only one TV (or one good TV) in the house, there were no devices to distract us and it probably was the best show that was on. There was definitely no DVR or OnDemand to watch it later, so it was watch now or miss it.
It’s been rare, lately, to have this kind of communal family viewing experience, something I haven’t seen since maybe “Survivor” in the early 2000s. “Game of Thrones” was must-watch, lest it be spoiled the next day, but not exactly something kids and parents would watch together. “WandaVision” on Disney+ has brought that family TV feeling back.
The series picks up where the last Marvel film, “Avengers: Endgame,” left off and follows Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), aka Scarlet Witch. Wanda has a host of powerful abilities, from energy-blasting to time- and reality-altering skills. She’s grieving the death of her beloved android, Vision (Paul Bettany), who was killed by Thanos in “Endgame,” and suddenly finds herself transported to a 1950s-style sitcom with a very much alive Vision.
In each episode, the pair jump another decade, with all the sitcom tropes of that time period following them. It may sound weird, but it’s a mix of nostalgic fun and a simmering Avengers-style action plot with a deeper meeting right around the corner. It’s possible to just jump into the series cold, but Marvel fans are also treated to a full menu of Easter eggs each week, from surprise characters to hidden symbols to unravel. The show seemed like a risky gamble on Marvel Studios' part, but so far, it seems to be working.
Episodes drop every Friday at 3 a.m. EST, and we watch them as a family after dinner on Friday nights. We have never scheduled time to watch a show together before, but this is a can't-miss engagement that we work everything else around (lol, like we've got anything else going on). It has given us something to look forward to during these strange times, especially when it feels like there’s not a lot to get excited about.
There aren’t a lot of scripted family shows on. If they’re not reality competitions, they’re either too adult or too Teen Nick-dumb to watch together. This show has the right mix of suspense, superheroes and compelling plot to appeal to everyone. The only other example I can think of like this in recent memory was “The Mandalorian,” but that still didn’t get the whole family on the couch -- only the Grogu fans.
"WandaVision" is both fantastic and grounded, offering something for everyone. Plus, it ends on a wild cliffhanger each week, which leaves us all wanting more. For the next few days thereafter, we have something to talk about at the dinner table. We have Marvel movie nights so the kids can catch up on all of the Avengers' backstories, and my sons have even started reading comic books (actually my comic books from the ‘80s). This show has brought us together in ways that even a year of extreme togetherness didn’t.
I love our new ritual. Considering the slate Disney+ has on the horizon, including March’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” May’s “Loki” and July’s “What If?,” Friday Night Marvel TV just might be a thing for all of 2021. What a great way to pass a week.
If you haven't caught "WandaVision" yet, it's a great time to jump in. There are six episodes available to stream, three more to go (which will reportedly clock in at 60 minutes each, instead of the usual half hour). Wanda will hopefully enchant your family as much as she has enchanted mine.