The Wet Hot American Summer franchise has had a surge in popularity in recent years, with the cult hit movie receiving a prequel television series on Netflix focusing on the first day of at Camp Firewood in 1981, and now receiving a sequel Netflix series built around a bit at the end of the original movie in which all the characters meet up ten years after the event of the film. The original film is one of my favorite comedies of all time, and I was equally as satisfied with the first Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, which surprising fleshed out the world of Camp Firewood and its cast of camp councilors while maintaining the over the top absurdist comedy which made the original film such a cult classic.
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later shows the viewers where all the camp councilors ended up in their mid to late 20s, which is fun to see within the first couple episodes, and then it quickly dives into a completely ridiculous government conspiracy plot involving Ronald Reagan (much like First Day of Camp), while the rest of the characters are involved in plot lines to either save the camp, resolve loose threads from the movie, and various other random activities including a murderous nanny, and losing one’s virginity at 26. All of these elements sound like they fit right into the Wet Hot universe, and for the most part they do, this is definitely a competent addition to the franchise, I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times over the 8 episodes, but I don’t think it is on-par with the original film or the prequel show.
While it was nice to see underutilized characters like McKinley and JJ get additional screen time and interesting plot lines (personally I think McKinley versus the Nanny was the best part of this series), the other characters seemed to suffer from lack of screen time. This is probably due to scheduling conflicts, which is to be expected with such a large ensemble cast filled with talented and successful actors, but the series definitely suffered because of it. Amy Poehler’s, Susie, and Paul Rudd’s, Andy, are the best examples of this. They had plot lines that actually seemed to push their characters toward personal growth, yet those plot points just seemed to fade away toward the end of the series along with their characters. I think how they handled the recasting of Ben, replacing the busy Bradley Cooper with Adam Scott, was done very well but even his catchphrase this season “These blueprints are literally kicking my ass”, a line repeated several times and something fans would expect to go somewhere ridiculous, ended up meaning nothing and going nowhere. Also, the addition of two characters, Mark and Claire, who, in typical Wet Hot fashion, were obviously and unapologetically jammed into the events of the original film to explain their presence in this series seemed to be done just to bolster the cast.
I think the best way to describe this series would be rushed. There is certainly a great deal to love about this show, and fans of the franchise will definitely enjoy it. But it also seems like given more time to write and shoot this series could have benefited the plot and the comedy, opening up more room for the actors’ schedules and allowing the writers to really work out the kinks of the series to make sure everything works. Overall, I give Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later a 7 out of 10 stars.
What did you think of this show? Are you a fan of the franchise or was the absurdist comedy completely new to you? Did you want Jon Hamm to show up as The Falcon as much as I did? Please let me know and have a nice day!