On the Bubble: Wilfred

Posted on August 8, 2012


We love dogs. So the idea of a show where one of the main characters interacts with a dog as if the dog were human (and is, in fact, played by a guy in a dog suit) intrigued us.

Plus, it ran for three years in Australia before getting picked up here in the US, so we wondered if some of its Aussie sensibilities would survive the translation. We like seeing life in the US from other perspectives than our own.

We Watched It

Ryan Newman (Elijah Wood) has lost his job. His life is falling apart. Then he gets a new neighbor (Jenna, played by Fiona Gubelman), and she has a dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann). Ryan is freaking out, breaking down, and attempting suicide when his neighbor comes over to ask him a favor: Taking care of her dog while she’s at work. To Ryan, Wilfred is as a human in a dog suit, but to everyone else, Wilfred is a dog.

Well, maybe the cast and crew can explain it better.

On the Bubble

The problem with high-concept shows is how long, and how well, they can find variations on the concept.

It’s not clear to me how long they can keep up the concept of this show.

Right now, it’s dark, cynical, humorous, enjoyable, and often funny. It’s certainly creative.


Wilfred is a man in a dog suit some times. He smokes pot, drinks beer, reads books, and watches TV.

Except that sometimes Wilfred is a man-shaped dog. He chases Frisbees, likes belly rubs, and sniffs stinky things.

He also has sex with a stuffed bear.

So part of my issue is that Wilfred is one of those characters who is whoever, or whatever, the show needs at that particular moment, and not a solid character in himself.

Another part of my issue is that Ryan is such a wimpy man-child. Wilfred bullies him constantly. Ryan isn’t strong enough to be the pack alpha (sorry – my inner dog owner slipped out there) and falls for Wilfred’s bullying.

Yes, Wilfred could teach Ryan a lot about being assertive, being confident, enjoying life, and loving without conditions – if Ryan would put down the bong and make the effort to filter those lessons into his human experience.

Until he does, Wilfred will keep leading him down blind alleys and dead ends, or into even worse behavior.


What other television imports have you enjoyed?

Posted in: television