Complaints about WandaVision’s flying-in-midair scenes and descriptions of the finale a “five-ring circus” overlook the extraordinary writing in the series. Framke and Vary recognize the show’s relevant themes, but describing the show as an “oddity” fails to pay tribute to the genius of the script. Rotten Tomatoes description of WandaVision as “wonderfully weird and strikingly bold” better captures my view of the matter.
The writing of WandaVision demonstrates innovation in its fresh version of the False World and in its inversion of the nested plot.
We find examples of the nested plot when we watch – Bart and Lisa watching – Itchy and Scratchy episodes in The Simpsons. As the camera zooms into the show within a show, the audience follows the nested plot on a fictional screen. When the episode ends, the camera shifts away from the pretend screen, and Bart and Lisa return to the main plot of their “real world” home. In this instance, the writers develop little to no relationship between the sub and main storylines and designate the nested plot as comic relief.
Avatar’s S3E15 presents a nested plot as we watch – the Avatar gang as they watch – a theater production of themselves. The camera zooms into the stage, and we follow the story within a story. In between acts, we return to the main plot as the camera shifts to the characters in the audience. As Aang and his friends complain about the depictions of themselves, the writers find meeting points and develop a relationship between the sub and main plots.
In an extraordinary flare, Wanda Vision inverts the storylines. The “fictional” story is center stage. Throughout most of the series, the audience follows the trials and tribulations of Wanda’s fantastical family life. Wanda’s “real world” functions as the subplot and drives the central storylines that occure within the delusion. When we learn that Wanda’s trauma and loss are prompting her to create the fantasy, the writers develop meeting points between the sub and main plot.
Having the nested plot dominate the storyline and giving the “real story” secondary placement allows the writers to emphasize the influential role that fantasy plays in our lives. Wandavision presents a new version of The False World, an inversion of the nested plot, and a breakdown of the fourth wall, which you can read about in my next post.