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What WandaVision Teaches Us About Grief

Nyrika Nooreyezdan

WandaVision ended its first and only season on March 5th. The show began the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), taking place after half the population had been “snapped” back to life, including Wanda Maximoff. Wanda, consumed by grief, uses her magic to create a new Vision and take control of the town of Westview, New Jersey, cutting it off from the rest of the world. Each episode moves to a new decade. And a new show that Wanda watched during her childhood when her fictional eastern European country was plagued by war. Throughout the series, Wanda faces many obstacles, such as Agatha Harkness, Director Tyler Hayward and her own inward battles. (If you still haven’t watched the show and hate spoilers stop reading now.)

The title was considered lazy when it was first announced in 2019 but its meaning runs so much deeper than the combination of the main characters’ names or a pun on the word ‘television’. The whole of Westview is tailored to fit the life that Wanda wants for herself - the perfect family in the quiet neighbourhood with a lawn, a dog, and a nosy neighbour. What we are seeing is literally Wanda’s vision - the vision that TV shows like the “Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Full House” told her she should want. However, WandaVision shows us the truth. That this faux life of hers is fragile, and this picture of perfection is easily shattered. The show is a testament to what the media presents to us versus the harsh reality of everyday life and how the former is treated as an escape from the latter. The pandemic has further proven this. As we sit at home with nothing to do and nowhere to go, TV shows are what we use to get away from the monotony.

At its core, the show is about Wanda dealing with deep sorrow and trauma. We watch as Wanda goes through the five stages of grief, ending with acceptance as she lets go of her hold on Westview, losing her children and Vision in the process. Grief is depicted as destructive as we are shown the effect Wanda’s emotions have had on the citizens of Westview, but we are also shown how loss does not define people. It ends with her living alone in a rather serene setting, where she is finally trying to be more than her sadness.

In the end, WandaVision teaches us many things about trauma. We finally get the dismissal of the ideal suburban life as something we should all strive for and a portrayal of grief that is multi-faceted and infinitely complex.

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