Somehow, with all the subtlety of a sloth changing direction, Wilfred has managed to evolve from a quirky comedy about a dog teaching a man life lessons to a quirky drama about a man coming to terms with his own insanity. As this season has progressed, the storylines have become increasingly darker; shifting focus away from how funny it is to see a man in a dog suit perform typical canine behaviors to the sad reality of Ryan’s life. Wilfred is still a riot when it’s appropriate, but this show has shown tremendous skill at playing a scene straight, even if it’s as disheartening as Ryan telling Amanda their life together will be wonderful despite having just turned her into the FBI for a psychiatric examination. Ryan looks at Wilfred as he’s hugging Amanda, and for once Wilfred just returns the gaze, not a single quip on his lips. Even he can see how heartbreaking this moment is for Ryan. Amanda was the perfect girl for him, and yet she’s nuttier than crunchy peanut butter.
“Some people can’t handle Vegas; you can.” Wise words coming from Wilfred. Ryan may be completely off his rocker, but he at least has always been able to keep control of himself. He doesn’t go out and sell company secrets for millions of dollars because a dog told him to. He knows himself well enough to question everything Wilfred tells him. Alison Mack may have been the most enjoyable guest star to have on Wilfred, but I’m satisfied with the way her storyline ended. It brought Wilfred and Ryan together in a way that rarely happens. They both had no idea what was going on and that’s truly frightening. Wilfred is supposed to be this guide for Ryan, but there are things even he doesn’t have the answers for. I was pleased we didn’t have to see Amanda being arrested and taken away. It was smart decision to cut straight to after all that business. We don’t need to see further heartbreak; it was hard enough watching Ryan hug Amanda one last time.
Looking toward the future, what does the revelation that Ryan has been seeing Wilfred much longer than he first thought – we see a picture of Wilfred Ryan drew when he was just a kid – mean for the show? I liked the direction “Secrets” took, finally coming clean and admitting Wilfred doesn’t know what he is anymore than Ryan does. And playing it off as if Wilfred is just messing with Ryan only to discover Wilfred was lying and actually has no clue what the picture means – he was just scared too admit he wasn’t as in control as he thought – was thrilling to see unfurl. The same sort of situation came up in the Season 1 finale, when Ryan found the basement to be a figment of his imagination. That ended up meaning little, as Ryan was able to find his back into the basement with the explanation being someone – possibly Ryan – had boarded up the entrance. Are we looking at a similar resolution for the drawing? Will there be a moment in Season 3 when we find a perfectly reasonable explanation for why there was a man in a dog suit in this childhood drawing? Maybe Ryan just happened to see a man in a dog suit that day and it wasn’t Wilfred at all.
I’m impressed with how far Wilfred has come in its two short seasons. It’s showcased a maturity unknown to most comedies while still remaining fundamentally immature when appropriate. How funny is it to see Wilfred sexually licking a wedding attendee? Or his threatening to chop off Ryan’s dick with his dick sheers if even a single hair of his tail touches a blade of grass? It’s classic Wilfred humor mixed with classic Wilfred drama. It’s its own animal. There are so few shows you can say are truly unique and this is one of them.