Why WandaVision Was Such A Hit During A Time Of Nationwide Grief And Monotony

This past winter, Marvel dropped their first of several shows continuing the stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, WandaVision. Not only was its success seen with viewership, being that it the most popular television show at the time they dropped their 6th episode, but also with the swarm of discussion about insane theories, cleverly placed easter eggs and even hilarious memes (ie. Baby Vision and ViShawn) all over social media each Friday. While I have binged countless shows in this year of quarantine, WandaVision easily earns the trophy for the best watching experience I’ve had; a cultural reset, if you will. Oh, and spoilers ahead. Wanda and Pietro Maximoff in costume in Wandavision Disney+

I don’t think I’m alone in this either, especially considering how strategically they utilized the weekly drops to their advantage as opposed to the norm we are used to. In the age of binge-watching, most people watch the entirety of a show in about a week (or one long sitting if you’re dedicated, talk about it on social media with everyone for a few weeks, then move on to the next show without looking back. This of course, was not the case with WandaVision, as the weekly episodes drew out the hype for about 9 weeks, and even after because we stayed invested in it for so long. Each cliffhanger was a true cliffhanger, like the reveals of it being Agatha all along, that peak of White Vision, or what the heck was up with Evan Peter’s Quicksilver. This led to us all trying to piece together theories that were often wrong (*cough* Mephisto *cough*), generating an unmatchable buzz and anticipation for each Friday’s episode. Had Marvel released the entire series in one go and let us have click the “Next Episode” button immediately, we would never have begun to unpack each episode with the intensity and curiosity we had. 

Wanda Maximoff in wedding dress with Vision Disney+

Especially in a time where most of us have nothing to look forward to except for zoom classes and work each and every day sitting in the same room, WandaVision was the source of my weekly excitement. “WandaVision Eve'' became the new Thursday, and while Wanda Maximoff was creating her own sitcom-inspired reality with her sorta resurrected husband and fabricated children to escape the pain she felt, we too found an escape in her reality. 

Even the way Marvel shares their stories felt refreshingly new with WandaVision. Due to the episodic nature instead of a movie format, WandaVision didn’t feel as predictable as their movies are, even if it follows their famous MCU formula. When watching the first few episodes that were primarily 1950s black-and-white colored sitcoms with no context or S.W.O.R.D interjections, none of us had a clue what was going on. This rang true throughout the series, which was frustrating but kept us intrigued with questions as to whether Vision was truly revived from the dead, what the intentions of S.W.O.R.D. were and more. As someone who isn’t crazy about action shows or films, WandaVision was a brilliant compromise that propelled us into close quarters with Wanda, Agatha, and S.W.O.R.D. to understand each of their motives and build tension before they were thrown into a chaotic brawl. 

Monica Rambeau from Wandavision kneeling Disney+

Another aspect of WandaVision that made it all the more magical was the incredibly complex female characters at the forefront of the show, namely Wanda. The MCU’s typical giant blockbuster movies tend to focus on the male superheroes, with Captain Marvel being the only woman to receive her own titular film in the MCU, and female characters like Wanda and Natasha being pushed to the side too often in the others. Here, we get an in-depth look into who Wanda Maximoff is, how she is processing the loss of her partner and her brother, her impossible aspirations to have her own perfectly normal family in the suburbs, and the story of how she unlocked the fullest potential of her powers as the Scarlet Witch. This, of course, expanded over not just 10 minutes of screen time like in the movies, but over 9 full episodes.

Of course, WandaVision didn’t just stop at Wanda when it came to centering around women. Darcy Lewis from Thor makes a comeback as the hilarious astrophysicist who now has a PhD. Agatha Harkness plays her role as Wanda’s best friend in the hex but is then revealed to be the main villain of the show. And my personal favorite, the brave and righteous Monica Rambaeu from Captain Marvel is grown up, adjusting to life after coming back from the blip, and coping with the death of her mother, Maria. Wanda Maximoff crying in Wandavision Disney+

But, one of the most important themes that makes this TV show resonate with myself and the mass amount of others who have tragically lost a loved one in the pandemic, is grief. As we watched Wanda make the morally questionable choice of casting an entire town to play as side characters to her and Vision’s love story, I couldn’t help but think of how human her desperation was to bring back a loved one. Wanda, as a being who harnesses an astronomical amount of power, cannot be pinned as the villain of the story even if she orchestrated it all (unintentionally); it’s her natural and painful grief that brought about the chaos. Part of why I appreciated Monica Rambaeu was because she seemed to be the only character who understood this and knew Wanda needed help; she was able to empathize with her in the way that many of us can. We also get the beautiful quote spoken by Vision in a flashback, “What is grief if not love persevering?” making me rethink the way I resent my own grief; I’m sure it all resonated deeply with other viewers too. In the end, when Wanda finds acceptance with Vision’s death, takes down the hex and says her final goodbyes to him, she understands that he exists within her literally as the Mind Stone, but it can be likened to how we keep our own lost loved ones alive with the memories and love we carry within. The sobbing that ensued for me was ridiculous, but the ending in regards to Wanda and Vision’s love story, this could not have been executed more beautifully. Though the spell has been broken and the show is over, WandaVision truly came at the right time for all of us suffering with our unchanging days and sadness for all those we’ve lost in this pandemic, providing us with a unique experience with entertainment and characters we could feel