WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
If you’re loving WandaVision but not totally familiar with classic American sitcoms, you might’ve missed some references hidden in the show. Of course, you don’t need to know the details of these sitcoms to enjoy the series, but learning a little about the tributes will give you an extra layer of appreciation for the show!
Note: some of the show eras/episode eras overlap a little bit. It’s not a perfect match decade for decade.
Episode 1: 1950s
The first episode is set in a 50s dreamland, with both the style of the set and visual gags reminiscent of The Dick Van Dyke Show. In fact, director Matt Shakman and producer Kevin Feige met with Van Dyke to talk about the show’s production and approach. The Dick Van Dyke show was made in the 60s, but the WandaVision crew just tailored it a little bit to fit the aesthetic of the 50s, including costumes and set design.
Another nod in this episode comes from the visual gags related to Wanda’s magic. The show draws inspiration from Bewitched (another 60s show), with practical effects like Wanda moving pots and pans and closing the shades with her magic. Wanda does occasionally scrunch her nose, but she doesn’t quite copy Samantha’s iconic nose wiggle.
This episode also has some nods to I Love Lucy, but more about that over in Episode 2.
EPISODE 2: 1960S
Episode 2 moves us into the swinging 60s. Wanda swaps her dress for pants, and we see them sleeping in double twin beds, which was a television “decency” standard at the time. This is a visual I Love Lucy audiences saw often, with Lucy and Ricky sleeping in separate beds.
This episode also draws plot inspiration from I Dream of Jeannie. Vision’s accidental gum swallowing and subsequent confusion draws inspiration from some zany plot lines and animated segments featured in the sitcom.
EPISODE 3: 1970s
Episode 3 marks a dramatic shift from black and white to color (which happens at the tail end of episode 2). This 70s concept draws inspiration from 3 different shows: The Brady Bunch, Good Times, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Marvel didn’t copy any specific plot lines, character traits, or sets from these show, but basically drew the whole mood for the house, wardrobe, and tone of the episode. Showmakers talked about the bright, often conflicting patterns and colors typical in these sitcoms, which were incorporated into each character and set. And these sitcoms all had a certain “chaos” element to them – when things go haywire, they go REALLY haywire. As in…a stork in your house and surprise childbirth haywire.
Episode 4: 1980s
The 80s episode hit close to home for Elizabeth Olsen. It draws inspiration from Full House, which starred her two older sisters. Fans of the sitcom will notice the inspiration in the set design, hair dos, and the oh-so-gushy moments featuring the family dog. Not to mention the opening credits, which have shots extremely similar to the Full House opening of a picnic in the park.
Here’s what Elizabeth said in an interview about the episode:
“There was something very meta for my own life because I would visit those tapings as a kid, where my sisters were working [on ‘Full House’].”
Episode 6: 1990s
In addition to being the only episode designed around a holiday (Halloween), episode 6 also starts the breaking of the fourth wall. This episode draws inspiration from Malcolm in the Middle, from the opening credits to the style of the camerawork.
The twins also break the fourth wall just a little, the way Malcolm did during the show’s run. The next episode, however, is when the show “officially” breaks the fourth wall and moves into the most popular sitcom trend of the 2000s: mockumentary.
EPISODE 7: 2000s
This episode celebrates another Disney-owned show: Modern Family. Wanda’s disheveled appearance is very reminiscent of Claire Dunphy, though Wanda’s character certainly gets a lot more nihilistic than Claire ever does.
Vision, meanwhile, is away from the house and his references feel more like The Office. He and Darcy have very direct 1:1 interviews with the camera, and Vision even gives a look similar to Jim Halpert’s infamous stare.
We loved watching Wanda and Vision navigate these different decades, and their characters seemed to seamlessly transition from one era to the next.
Which decade was your favorite to watch?