Greetings, fellow Fannibals. So we’ve got a long hiatus from Hannibal approaching (fingers crossed we do, anyway…I’ve stopped worrying about cancellation because I’m sure even if NBC doesn’t pick it up, some cable channel will, RIGHT??? Is this sense of security going to turn out badly for me somehow?), and you will no doubt be feeling bereft. So. You should probably improve your hiatus and life by watching Wonderfalls, the second (and *sob* shortest) show in Fullerverse. Everyone has their favorite Fuller show, and this is mine.
Wonderfalls is a modern day telling of Joan of Arc centered around Jaye Tyler, a 24-year old slacker/snarker/retail clerk/Gen-Y icon who turns Unwilling Prophet when one day, out of nowhere, animal figurines (the “muses”) start talking to her, giving usually vague instructions that end up helping other people.
I would like you all to just stop and ponder that for a second. That is an actual premise to an actual show that exists. I know, I know. It’s like Bryan Fuller’s just showing off.
(Before we get into the specifics, please note that the Tyler family is compromised of Karen, Darren, Sharon, Aaron, and Jaye. If that right there doesn’t make you want to watch this, I have no idea how to talk to you)
Jaye Tyler: Our protagonist, played by Caroline “Light of my Life” Dhavernas (a.k.a. Dr.Alana Bloom). Jaye went to Brown, got a philosophy degree, and now works retail at Wonderfalls Gift Emporium, a touristy shop in Niagra. Jaye lives in a trailer park, tries (unsuccessfully) to avoid her overbearing and successful family, hangs out a bar with her best friend and love interest and, oh yeah, is an instrument of the universe. Jaye Tyler is amazing, and you will probably identify with her. She is not pleased with the fact that her inadvertent, muse prompted good deeds could give her a Nice Girl image, because Jaye is not so nice, but she does have a huge, hidden heart: she cares deeply about her family and her friends (okay, she has, like, two friends), and when it seems like muses might have actually hurt someone rather than helped, she is genuinely distressed.
Sharon Tyler: The oldest Tyler sibling, BAMF, Republican lesbian lawyer, played by the luminous Katie Finneran. Sharon is, in many ways, Jaye’s opposite - high strung, ambitious, loves pleasing their parents - and at the beginning of the series there’s a lot of animosity and resentment in their relationship. BUT it’s actually one of the loveliest things in the series. The development is great and their scenes are always GOLDEN.
Aaron Tyler: Middle Tyler sibling, played by Lee Pace - Certified Handsome Person and currently tied with Caroline for Fullerverse MVP (both have been the lead on one series, supporting cast in another). Aaron is an atheist theologian who is thrown into spiritual crisis when he discovers what’s going on with his sister. Incidentally, he finds out because of his lovely and genuine concern that something is wrong with Jaye (and also there’s a cow creamer involved). He also lives at home while working on his doctoral dissertation, but is still considered more successful than Jaye. He sometimes forgets to finish buttoning his shirt.
Darren and Karen Tyler: The parents: a doctor and a best-selling travel writer, respectively. Jaye describes her parents as overbearing and constantly interested. They are very involved with their children’s lives, but they’re also wonderfully genuine with them. For example, though Jaye is presented as the loser of the family, her parents never denigrate what she does for a living, bringing her a balloon bouquet (the same one Sharon got for making partner) when she gets Employee of the Month at Wonderfalls.
Mahandra McGinty: Jaye’s long time best friend (Mahandra has had a stocking on the Tyler’s fireplace since they were little kids; pause and let that sink in and hit you with feelings), Mahandra is a cocktail waitress at The Barrel, where Jaye hangs out. They are one of my favorite Lady Friendships on television ever, because from their first scene in the pilot you can just feel how long these two have been friends. It’s that comfortable and familiar. Like Jaye, Mahandra has a very dry sense of humor and not a lot of ambition. She also knows Jaye very well, well enough to call her out, but always with affection
Eric Gotts: Bartender, Love Interest, Jilted Newlywed. Eric came to Niagara Falls from New Jersey on his honeymoon, and was promptly cheated on by his wife (Heidi Socket-Gotts, with the bellman, in the honeymoon suite). He wandered into The Barrel and cried for three days until someone gave him a job bartending. He meets Jaye on the same day the muses start talking to her. He’s pretty smitten (as we all are), and when he at looks her there are literal fireworks in his eyes. Jaye likes him, too, but she was a bit of a man eater even before the muses started talking to her and she began to worry about her own stability.
General Awesomeness You Can Expect
Comedic genius - The one liners on this show, I swear. The whole cast is so talented, and there’s something so strangely unique about their line delivery, Katie and Caroline especially.
Lovely sibling/familial relationships - This was mostly mentioned in the above character descriptions, but it’s worth repeating because well written adult sibling dynamics are my favorite thing on earth and the Tylers are one of my favorite TV families.
Sweet, heart-swelling romantic relationships - I am smitten with every couple on this show, you don’t even understand. Bryan Fuller writes ships with such warmth and sweetness, I can’t.
Well earned angst - During the last third of the show, things get super serialized as the muses prompt Jaye to do something she really, really doesn’t want to do, something that directly affects and hurts her. And in spite of Jaye’s callous, sarcastic persona, the show is not afraid to let her really feel that. These episodes are some of my favorites, and they’re still hilarious and lovely, but you also care so much and Caroline’s sad face should be illegal probably.
Satisfying Conclusion - Though I am and will forever be of the opinion that it is a tragedy that more Wonderfalls does not exist (there are 13 episodes, did I mention that?), it’s first and only season wraps up nicely. There’s none of those pesky Pushing Daisies dangling plot points (NED’S DAD, FULLER. WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH NED’S DAD? AND NED WAS JEALOUS OF OLIVE AND RANDY WHERE WERE YOU GOING WITH THAT ASADSFASLJ). You will not want to claw your face off when you finish…at least, not because of lack of payoff.
Canadian noir - Do I really need to expand on this one?
Oh look here’s the pilot.You should watch that.