Wilfred: Does Anyone Even Care What Wilfred Is?
Jason Gann and Elijah Wood
Wilfred is a great comedy about a man and his (neighbor's) dog — but is it a great mystery? Not so much.
The series started with Ryan's (Elijah Wood) attempted suicide and has since followed his struggle to redefine his identity and determine what kind of man he's going to be. Wilfred (Jason Gann) serves an important role in this journey, but Ryan can't be in recovery forever. Once he's healed, Wilfred is rendered irrelevant (because no one who is truly healed would be that close to a dog). That means the show — if it doesn't want to outstay its welcome — can't survive too much longer.
This could explain why the series is suddenly pushing the issue of what Wilfred is drastically into the forefront. The question has always been present in the show (most notably in the two previous season finale cliffhangers), but Ryan and Wilfred seem unable to ignore the issue any more.
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Wilfred is seemingly preparing us for one of two possibilities: that Wilfred is a magical, immortal being or that Wilfred is a figment of Ryan's mind stemming from his mental illness. But can there be a third option: none of the above?
Wilfred's third season began with the David Levithan quote: "The mistake is thinking that there can be an antidote to the uncertainty." And while it's unlikely, I'm hoping the series will take this advice to heart, because in a show that embraces life's capriciousness, any definite answer would seem out of place.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what Wilfred is. I don't tune in every week for clues to Wilfred's true identity. I tune in because Wilfred makes me laugh. It's a great buddy comedy. It's even a great character study. But it's not Fight Club nor is it Lost. So maybe Wilfred should take a cue from Inception instead and leave us guessing.
What do you think? Do you need to know what Wilfred is?