10 Reasons Why ‘WandaVision’ Was One of 2021’s Best

From Netflix's stand-out series Squid Game to Starz's unexpectedly brilliant Blindspotting, and the full slate of Marvel Disney+ series, 2021 has been filled with incredible—and groundbreaking—television series. Here at Your Money Geek, we're reflecting on a few of the best, and boldest, series of the year.

10 Reasons Why WandaVision Was One of 2021's Best

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WandaVision was an extraordinary achievement in television this past year. Airing from January to March of 2021 on Disney Plus, this limited series followed Wanda Maximoff and her love Vision through a world of television sitcoms where something dark was simmering beneath the happy surface, and twists and turns were around every perfectly immaculate corner of their idyllic neighborhood of Westview.

The show was praised and acclaimed by fans and critics alike, garnering multiple award nominations, including 3 Emmy wins, and has proven to be immensely popular, discussed throughout the entire year, trending on social media on many occasions, was the third most popular show on IMDb, and one of Google's most searched for shows. Moreover, it was one of the most unique, impressive, and ambitious Marvel properties to date. Let's explore why WandaVision was one of 2021's best of the best.

Warning: there are spoilers for major plot points on the show.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

The Merchandise

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Showing off your love for or collecting the merchandise from your favorite film or television series is nothing new for any fan of popular culture. Fans ranging from the average to the obsessed most likely have at least one piece of merchandise inspired by their favorites. Disney and by extension Marvel most certainly has an abundance of things to consume, either officially licensed or fan-made, from t-shirts and action figures, to purses and pins.

There's nothing new being able to find just about anything from any of the MCU properties. But what made WandaVision stand out from the crowd has to do with the nature of the show. Because each episode represents a different decade in the history of television, eventually culminating in the present-day MCU canon verse, the merchandise reflected this, and we saw products that were inspired by the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, and present-day Wanda and Vision.

My personal favorite: all the different Funko Pop Figures, and the 50s and 60s inspired designs. There's so much and it's all a lot of fun.

Image Credit: Funko Pops. 

Costume Inspiration

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Who doesn't love a good costume, cosplay, or DisneyBound? For those in this community, Disney and the MCU are ripe with possibilities for the same reason there was so much merchandise available. If one chose to dress as or bound as Wanda, Vision, Agatha, or Monica there were ample choices. For Wanda alone, one could channel a 1950s housewife, a 1960s magic act assistant, a pregnant wife in the 1970s, 1980s, or 90s harried mom, and both her traditional and modern Scarlet Witch ensembles. And that is just for Wanda.

There are endless possibilities to partake in, and if you are not one to participate you can just sit back and enjoy seeing all the creativity and fun. All one had to do was scroll through Instagram to see so many amazing costumes, and you could not attend Disney California Adventure's Halloween Party the Oogie Boogie Bash without seeing at least one couple dressed the Wanda and Vision's traditional costumes. It was quite the wonder to behold.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Weekly Theorizing and Commentary

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In a day in age where binging shows is the norm, and we are often forced to consume them in a very short period of time in order to avoid being spoiled, Disney Plus instead has chosen to go with a weekly drop of episodes for their shows, much like what was once the norm and all we ever knew on network television. While some may not enjoy this route, there were those, myself included, who reveled in this choice as it gives the viewers a chance to take in, ruminate, theorize, and simply delight in every episode for an entire week. And because WandaVision is a complex show with a bit of mystery this was the perfect choice.

If you watched it when it was first airing, you will know that it was a glorious time to be online. On Twitter and YouTube, there were whole threads and videos devoted to breaking down all of the Easter eggs in each episode, analyzing every moment, and theorizing what exactly was going on inside WestView, if Pietro was really who he seemed, and if the main villain was Mephisto. Did every theory play out, and were there a few red herrings? Yes, of course. But no one can deny that the WandaVision era was brimming with excitement and energy that was palpable.

The Music

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It's undeniable that the music of a film or TV series is an integral part of the art form. It can provide depth, elicit emotions, and add a richness and flavor that at times can be incredible. Between the theme songs for each episode written by husband and wife songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez, and the musical score by composer Christophe Beck, the music of WandaVision is extraordinary.

It's not surprising that Lopez and Anderson-Lopez provided some of their finest work as they are the pair responsible for the music from Frozen, Coco, amongst others, with Lopez being the recipient of the illustrious title of EGOT winner, a title held by only 16 individuals, with those who have an EGOT having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award.

When it comes to the songs the pair wrote for WandaVision they are deceptively brilliant both lyrically and musically, because they are simultaneously simple and complex. The same thematic motif can be heard in every song, with each one reflecting the era of said episode, and each one being spot on with their style and sound.

Each theme is so different from each other with clear inspirations from the themes from Bewitched for the 1960s “WandaVision!”, The Partridge Family for the 1970s “We Got Something Cookin'”, The Munsters for the award-winning “Agatha All Along,” Family Ties and Growing Pains for the 1980s “Making it Up as We Go Along,” Malcolm in the Middle for the 1990s “Let's Keep it Going,” and The Office and Modern Family for the 2000s “W-V 2000.” And despite being so varied, they managed to repeat the same motif.

Along with the brilliance of these theme songs, it must also be acknowledged that Beck's score similarly reflects each era and setting composing a score that includes music reflective of the various television time periods along with a traditional-sounding MCU score. Each episode flew by leaving the viewer wanting more, but it gave us a chance to listen to the haunting “Wanda's Theme” as “Please Stand By” appeared on screen every week.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Birth of the Scarlet Witch

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Despite Wanda being a part of the Avengers team of heroes since the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, she had never been called or referred to by her superhero name the Scarlet Witch. In fact, she was never even called a witch. We just knew Wanda as a strong woman who has powers of telekinesis, energy manipulation, and flight.

Previously we only briefly saw the source of her powers in a tag scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as we see her and her brother experimented on by Hydra. But WandaVision really delved into her powers more intensely, as it implies that exposure to the Mind Stone brought out what was already residing inside of her since childhood, and then added upon them.

Already powerful, Wanda learned even more and became stronger utilizing the knowledge she learned from Agatha, and wisdom that came from her own life experiences. And in the showdown between the two witches, it was an amazing moment of character growth as Wanda declares “I don't need you to tell me who I am.” In this moment the Scarlet Witch was born and it was magnificent.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

The Story, Writing, and Direction

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Without a doubt, WandaVision holds the title for most unique entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the only thing coming close being Captain America: The First Avenger. And that is only because that film is a period piece, mostly set in the 1940s. But in truth, WandaVision was new, exciting, and captivating territory; with a story that was allowed to slowly build its mystery and reach its exciting climax, resolution, and promise of more to come in enthralling, funny, and often moving ways.

All of this is due in no small part to the superb writing and direction. In fact, two are the most poignant moments had two of the most beautiful quotes of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe: Vision's “What is grief, if not love persevering,” and Wanda's “You are my sadness, and my hope, but mostly you're my love.”

The director and writer therefore all deserve praise and recognition; they are director Matt Shakman, writers Peter Cameron, Mackenzie Dohr, Laura Donney, Bobak Esfarjani, Megan McDonnell, Jac Schaeffer, Cameron Squires, Gretchen Enders, Jack Hayward, and original creators Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, and Steve Buscema.  WandaVision is more than just the fun TV sitcom eras-inspired show; that is just the premise. And they used this premise as a way of developing Wanda's character, furthering the story set up from The Avengers films, and taking the overarching MCU story in unexpected directions, making it not only one of the most interesting, but also one of the emotionally deepest entries in the MCU canon.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Dynamic Characters and Performances

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If there is another thing that deserves praise from the writers of WandaVision is the development of characters that we already knew and taking them from supporting players to lead characters, showcasing that they not only deserve to be leads, but they are just as interesting and entertaining as the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.

Wanda and Vision already had some intense, tender, romantic, and enthralling moments, but were further explored, with not one but two versions of Vision, as well as the couple exhibiting the duality of a happy sitcom couple from each decade in some moments, and their normal selves in others. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany more than showcased their acting skills slipping into each and every episode with ease, charisma, and depth.

One need only compares the way the episodes “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” “On a Very Special Episode,” and “The Series Finale” end for the couple as they showcase an idyllically romantic renewal of love, a confrontation, and captivating argument tinged with pain and confusion, and a deeply touching goodbye that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

But it wasn't just Wanda and Vision's characters that proved to be dynamic ones. Nosy neighbor Agnes who in truth is the Witch Agatha Harkness, played by the great Kathryn Hahn steals every scene, and chews the scenery with the best of them, portraying that duality amazingly as she seamlessly goes from plucky neighbor to menacing villain in a heartbeat.

And the trio of Jimmy Woo, Monica Rambeau, and Darcy Lewis were given not only a wonderful amount of screen time and proper development, but they proved to be a dynamic team who were exactly what heroes should be: strong, capable, intelligent, and compassionate, the three being the ones who care about the captive residents of Westview and Wanda and Vision.

If there was going to be an episode that interrupts the expected flow and takes us away from inside of Wanda's creation, it needed to show the audience characters that are both interesting and ones we can care about. Olsen and Bettany may be the heart of WandaVision, but Randall Park, Teyonah Parris, and Kat Dennings are the backbone. They are all fantastic. Here's hoping we see more of them in future projects.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Commentary on the Role of Media in Our Lives

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Media in all its forms (television, film, art etc.) can be such an important part of our lives. Beyond the entertainment value and sheer joy, they can provide comfort, teach us lessons, and give us hope. For Wanda, the Westview she creates where she, Vision, and the residents of the town continuously change from sitcom decade to sitcom decade, was created out of her deep and devastating grief from having lost everyone she cared about.

So she goes to where Vision had planned to make a home with her, and she creates an idyllic world, where problems are resolved within 30 minutes, and she and her love are happily married and the parents to twins, an obvious coping mechanism to deal with the loss of Vision and her twin brother Pietro.

While the entire series is a profound demonstration of the effect any kind of art (in this case television) can have on our lives, this is showcased the most especially in the episode “Previously On” where we see flashbacks to key moments in Wanda's life and the important role television, specifically sitcoms had on her from a young age. As a child in Sokovia, her family didn't have much. Not only did it most likely help her learn English and form her opinions on America, but watching an episode from her father's unsold DVDs of television shows is her favorite thing of every day.

Right before the explosion that killed her parents, her face is beaming with glee watching an episode from The Dick Van Dyke Show. As she and her brother lay in the rubble, the TV is still aglow, a reminder that in these worlds things will always be okay. After losing her brother, she and Vision bond over an episode of Malcolm in the Middle commenting on how seeing the father have an accident is funny because we know he is okay because that's the kind of show it is. It gives her comfort and a sense of control and stability in a world that is overcome with chaos and grief.

Is that not what so many of us do with the shows and films we watch, often over and over again? It's never outrightly said, but WandaVision demonstrates this concept with great nuance and depth.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Exploration of Grief

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We all deal with grief in different ways. Some isolate themselves, others seek solace in the company of others, some partake in therapy or counseling, others deal with their grief in a more personal way. All of these ways are understandable and for Wanda, time and time again, she turns it into sitcoms. When her parents were killed, instead of associating television with the trauma of this moment, it represented something stable and comforting.

As previously stated, she metaphorically would escape in these worlds of peaceful neighborhoods and happy families as her coping mechanism, And in her darkest moment, she literally creates this world, encapsulating herself in a bubble to deal with the tremendous pain she's in. Of course, like many things we do to deal with our grief, they are not always the best or most healthy ways to go about it. Wanda's way of coping was understandable but she hurt others, and so realizes she must learn to deal with her losses in a new way.

When she sacrifices the family and happy life she created out of her grief, it's a devastating moment but one that still has hope— hope that grief truly is simply love preserving, and that as profound as the pain is, we can move on and heal. There is always hope for the sun to shine on us again and that is a beautiful message. The fact that these issues were explored with such sincerity and sensitivity, in a “superhero” show, may be unexpected but is absolutely wonderful.

Television Sitcom Homages

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When it comes to the greatest aspect of WandaVision, it is without a doubt the way in which the series creators, writers, and the director took this concept of virtually living within a sitcom world week after week to an astounding level. The homages and inspirations that were seen and heard on this series are incredible in not only sheer amount, but accuracy, level of detail, and expert knowledge on all of the classic shows that Wanda drew inspiration from.

The plots of the episodes, the music, the sets and architecture, the costumes, and the norms of each time period are all loving and clever homages to some of the greatest shows in the history of television, and ones that Wanda knew and loved. If you're not familiar with the shows that drew inspiration from, these may pass your notice, and it may even feel frustrating for the viewer expecting the typical MCU fare.

But not only do I encourage familiarizing yourself with them for entertainment value alone, but also because it helps garner even more appreciation for the tremendous accomplishment of the cast and crew of WandaVision. This was not a haphazard, surface-level exploration of classic television. This was a painstakingly, carefully crafted masterpiece.

It would take forever to list every single homage or reference, but for someone like myself who loves these shows as much as Wanda herself, I was impressed, delighted, and often in awe of how amazing all these were. The sets and architecture for the various episodes were almost identical to the sets from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, and Family Ties. The costumes were heavily inspired by fashions of each decade and corresponding sitcoms.

Wanda's 1950s cocktail dress is exactly like one worn by Barbara Billingsley who portrayed June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver, while her 1960s Capri pants ensemble is not only just like ones worn by Elizabeth Montgomery who played Samantha Stevens on Bewitched, but was also an homage to Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show who insisted her character Laura wear pants in the show to reflect what modern women wore on a daily basis at home.

This homage to the time period and different styles of shows was also seen in Wanda and Vision's separate beds, all the humorous ways Wanda tried to hide her pregnancy, the concept of the “very special episode” where more serious issues were addressed, and characters talking directly to the camera as if in a documentary. The list is endless, and beyond the aesthetics and pure fun of these inspirations, it speaks to the great care and dedication the creators had to make Wanda's world believable with not only accuracy but with heart.

Without this, the show would have simply been like other times shows have done funny homages to the past. They're fun for sure, but this series goes so much deeper. WandaVision took great care and has a deep respect and reverence for the history of their inspirations. And that is something to truly marvel at.

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Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: Marvel Studios. 

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Marianne Paluso is a freelance artist and writer inspired by her favorite films, television, theme parks and all things pop culture. She especially loves Disney, classic films, fairy tales, period dramas, musicals, adventures, mysteries, and a good rom-com. She also partakes in the occasional Disneybound, cosplay, and YouTube video.