September 21, 2012



After two seasons on the air, WILFRED remains the most confounding show on television–which presumably is just as its makers want it.  The season finale, written by the developer of the US version of the series, David Zuckerman (from a story by Zuckerman and Scott Prendergast) and directed by house director Randall Einhorn, had plenty of supposed revelations, but since on Wilfred revelations usually turn out to be tricks and existential head games, it’s not clear what, if anything, really took place.

The finale was set in and around the event the season had been more or less building toward, the marriage of Ryan’s (Elijah Wood) neighbor and Wilfred’s owner Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) to Drew (Chris Klein).  The series once revolved around Ryan’s crush on Jenna, which was the reason he began spending so much time with Wilfred (Jason Gann) in the first place, but that storyline has faded into the background, and there wasn’t even the suggestion that Ryan might try to stop or break up the wedding.  (Indeed, he hosted it.)  Instead, there were two apparent developments.  First, a drawing turned up that may or may not have been done by Ryan as a child, in which a very Wilfred-looking dog observed Ryan and his family from behind a tree.  Since, as Wilfred noted, the drawing seemed to be at least 20 years old, and Wilfred professes to be only 7 in human years, that would suggest either some preternatural knowledge of Wilfred’s existence by Ryan, or lend support to the idea that Ryan has always been somewhat deranged and talking, smoking, Amazon-shopping (it’s so easy with one-click shopping) Wilfred is part of his delusion. Although Wilfred “confessed” to being the artist as part of his eternal goal of screwing with Ryan’s head, the very end of the episode suggested that Ryan really had drawn the picture–but again, Wilfred is all about reversals, so who knows.

The other mystery was somewhat more palpable.  Ryan learned that someone had sold the intellectual property secrets of his old company for $10.2M, and that he was suspected of committing the crime.  He of course assumed Wilfred was framing him, while Wilfred accused Ryan of doing it himself but forgetting he’d done it because of his psychosis.  Instead, the culprit (probably) turned out to be Amanda (Allison Mack), Ryan’s former and very briefly current girlfriend, who thought she and Ryan could use the money to run off to Tahiti or Fiji.  This story, too, had its inexplicable elements, as Amanda claimed that she could also talk to Wilfred, but she didn’t hear the words that Ryan did, and her Wilfred spoke with a French accent.  Did her delusions dovetail remarkably closely with Ryan’s?  Does Wilfred have multiple aspects that tell different people different things, and does one of them speak like Jean-Paul Belmondo?  In any case, she was on her way to jail by the end of the episode, although she did catch Jenna’s bouquet before being placed under arrest.

Since Wilfred has little if any objective reality and almost by definition can’t resolve any of its narrative issues, it offers a fair amount of cleverness and philosophical possibilities, but very little satisfaction.  Wood and Gann handle the constantly shifting power dynamics of their man/not-man relationship skillfully, but despite its admirable risk-taking and some wonderful moments of off-kilter illogic, Wilfred has started to feel like an off-Broadway play that just won’t end.  The ratings have slumped badly since the series lost Anger Management as its lead-in (the same is true for Louie, but that show is cheaper to produce, far more critically acclaimed, and already renewed), and FX hasn’t jumped to order a Season 3.  It may be that the mystery of whether the show comes back will be the only one that ends up being solved.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."