Spider-Man’s Jacob Batalon stars in Syfy’s Reginald the Vampire, an awkward, unfunny show focused on fat shaming

Reginald the Vampire - Series Premiere Review


Reginald the Vampire premieres on Syfy on Oct. 5, with new episodes weekly.

At some point, someone at Syfy must have had a conversation about Johnny Truant’s Fat Vampire book series where it was decided that they were worth adapting but that the title was too offensive. The result is Reginald the Vampire, which changes the name and much of the plot but keeps all the fat shaming, producing an utterly unpleasant and unfunny attempt at comedy that never should have seen the light of day.
Spider-Man sidekick Jacob Batalon is hoping to prove himself as a leading man by playing Reginald Baskin, a good-natured but insecure guy saddled with student loans and stuck in a dead-end job at a slushy shop. He’s picked Henry Ford as his deeply questionable self-help role model as he looks to change his life, starting with asking out his coworker crush Sarah Kinney (Em Haine). Reginald’s actually given the courage to make his move thanks to the vampire Maurice (Mandela van Peebles), who inexplicably decides to mentor Reginald instead of eating him. But when Maurice’s enemies get involved, Reginald winds up having his life changed way more than he wanted.
This isn’t inherently a bad setup. In better hands, Reginald the Vampire could be an amusing fish-out-of-water story, like What We Do in the Shadows if it was told from the perspective of newly minted vampire Nick. But absolutely nothing about this show actually clicks as it fumbles between romantic and supernatural comedy tropes, clunky mythology building, and even worse attempts to inject emotional drama.
Batalon provides charming comic relief in the MCU and maybe he’d be a compelling protagonist with a better script and director. But he can’t land a deeply awkward monologue where he stands in an alley and prays for a do-over on his mundane life before confessing he doesn’t actually believe in god. He’s equally unconvincing when going through the utterly tired cliche of having to push away Sarah for her safety, a sacrifice made even more ludicrous since they’ve never actually dated. The scene is painfully melodramatic, with Reginald crying blood to moody music back in the alley.
At least when Reginald’s trying to shrug off the teasing of his obnoxious preppy manager Todd (Aren Buchholz) by listing off a litany of fat jokes he’s heard, it’s meant to seem forced because the barbs actually hurt. But the deflection just plays right into the show’s premise that being a bit overweight means you should expect to be the target of derision. Even Maurice, who is trying to be a decent friend, expresses concerns that Reginald might not be a particularly powerful vampire because he isn’t in peak physical shape and explains that he’ll be shunned by all the sexy, skinny undead. When Reginald tries to avoid the urge to feed on humans he stuffs his face with pastries and is offered unsolicited advice from a coworker about his binge eating. The show embraces fat stereotypes far more than it tries to critique them.
Maurice is a blaxploitation caricature, a former Black Panther turned into a vampire because he thought it would help him pursue racial justice. Now he walks around with one gold fang and an afro pick he can use as a stake to dust vampires Buffy style. Peebles shows plenty of charisma when he’s giving Reginald his first pep talk, but he brings absolutely nothing to the scenes where he explains the rules of undeath or tries to be brooding and evasive about his own vampiric past.
All of it feels rotten thanks to flat characters, clunky dialogue, and its pointlessly cruel world.
He’d probably be better off as a more mysterious figure, but the writers need to flesh him out to build up his connection to the other local vampires. The scenes with Maurice’s rivals seem to be trying to embrace the camp of Buffy or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but what fun could be gleaned from their ludicrous posturing is undermined by Reginald the Vampire’s clumsy attempts at drama.
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Samantha Nelson

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