TV Shows
Published March 18, 2021

‘WandaVision’: Jac Schaeffer on the Sitcom Shenanigans and Shakespearean Tragedy That Made the Show Magic

Plus: Tune in to Women of Marvel to hear from Schaeffer, Elizabeth Olsen, Teyonah Parris, and Kathryn Hahn!

The next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is heating up, but there's still time for a look inside the world of Marvel Studios' WandaVision! Now that you've watched the whole show, streaming exclusively on Disney+, hear from the show's head writer Jac Schaeffer to see how she crafted the look of the show, the story of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), and what ultimately framed the entire series.

You can also tune in to the latest episode of Women of Marvel to hear the full conversation with Schaeffer as well as more insight from the stars of the show Elizabeth Olsen, Teyonah Parris, and Kathryn Hahn!


Schaeffer on what excited her the most about working on the show:

"Oh my gosh. Well, I mean, everything is the short answer, but I think just the opportunity to take two characters who, in the MCU, are kind of self-serious. I mean, the material that Paul and Lizzie have had in the movies has been so extraordinary, and so complex, and so much depth, and so much heartache and drama at a Shakespearean level. So to take these two characters and throw them into the sitcom shenanigans -- that was really sort of the delicious twist of this project for me.

"I had never written a sitcom. So that was really a challenge. I mean, those -- the history of sitcoms -- I mean, that format is very tight, very theatrical. You count the number of jokes on a page. It's a very different animal, and it was a little bit like speaking another language, especially with the period piece -- the period aspect on top of it. There was a lot of learning.

"We looked at it by decade, of course. And so even in the writers room, the way that I broke it out for our first day was [executive producer Mary Livanos] and I -- we put up art on the walls by decade. So we had four to five kind of comps of sitcoms for each era -- [The Donna Reed Show] and My Three Sons, and Father Knows Best, and that kind of thing.

"And then for the sort of crossing over was [The Dick Van Dyke Show], and Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie ... And then for the '70s, it was The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda. Then the '80s was just a bonanza, because that's my zone. That's Growing Pains, and Family Ties, and Wonder Years."

About creating the series from the ground up:

"The way that I went about creating a framework for the show is it was really the concept of grief. And my initial pitch -- I mapped the series to the stages of grief, and that this entire event of this show, of the series, was about one woman processing the pain of losing both her soul mate and all of the losses in her past beyond that.

"That through line was the foundation that I used to kind of navigate our way through the eras. And then it was world-building from there, but it was all about [Wanda]'s attachment to Vision and her desperate desire to create a safe space for the two of them."

On being guided by the comics: 

"[W]e had a lot of the comics in the room. We had big, big binders of them. We put the art up all over the room. I think very obviously -- and a lot of the fans have called this out -- HOUSE OF M is an influence not directly, obviously, because in none of the comics is there a 1950s sitcom, but the idea that Wanda's grief plus Wanda's enormous power can cause a fracture in the world and in her.

"And also in the HOUSE OF M, the incredible cruelty of [Wanda] having to relive her grief in so many ways. And I think that's a big piece of the end of Avengers: Infinity War. If feels like, for the character of Wanda in the comics and in the MCU, it's not enough that she has to endure tragedy. She's sort of forced to relive things all the time."

You can listen to the full conversation with Jac Schaeffer and the stars of Marvel Studios' WandaVision on the latest episode of Women of Marvel right here:

Every episode of Marvel Studios’ WandaVision is now streaming on Disney+.

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