Wonderfalls – Still Wonderfully Sarcastic 10 Years Later

Wonderfalls – Still Wonderfully Sarcastic 10 Years Later

Wonderfalls Poster

Wonderfalls premiered on March 12th 2004, on FOX, at a time when the network was quick to cancel anything with less than stellar ratings (this Family Guy scene sums it up best). Admittedly Wonderfalls was hard to promote, as it dabbled in a variety of genres, but no worries, the show’s been off the air for 10 years and if you’ve been waiting for an invitation to check it out, well here it is.

Wonderfalls is the story of Jaye Tyler, an intelligent and witty young women bucking the trend of success set by her overachieving family by living in a trailer park and working at a gift shop on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls. And despite having a college degree from Brown University, she is eager to defend her lifestyle choices, or lack thereof, to anyone questioning her dead-end job or frequent presence at her hometown bar, The Barrel. That is, until inanimate animal objects start talking to her and force her to take a more active role in her own life, and others.

A decade later Wonderfalls is still the incredibly relatable, original, and humorous series I fell in love with, and to celebrate it’s irrelevant anniversary here’s 10 reasons why you should give this one-season wonder a chance, that is if you haven’t already.

10 Reasons To Watch Wonderfalls


Wonderfalls was created by the talented Todd Holland (Director of many things you’ve seen) and Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal). Tim Minear also served as an Executive Producer and was credited for writing a couple of episodes. Fans of Firefly, Angel, Dollhouse, and Terriers should recognize his name.


Jaye Tyler, the central character of the show, was played by Caroline Dhavernas who currently stars on Fuller’s newest TV series Hannibal. Before that she made her way back to U.S. television on the short lived Shonda Rhimes’ produced series Off the Map. Whether you recognize her name or not, Dhavernas really brought a vulnerability and snarkiness to a character that could otherwise come off as a stereotypical byproduct of the Millennial generation.


In the first episode of the series, an old high school classmate of Jaye’s asks, “Did you end up over-educated and under-employable like you said in the yearbook?” to which she replied “Yep”. If that character trait isn’t relatable to the current twenty-something I don’t know what is. Maybe Wonderfalls was a bit ahead of its time, but the show does a nice job of capturing the aimlessness and frustrations of trying to ‘figure it out’ post-college graduation, especially in our current economy. You know, the whole arrested development by default thing.


The show has a super catchy theme song, with accompanying music video:


If you’ve seen Pushing Daisies or Hannibal you might recognize the following characters: Gretchen Speck and Marianne Marie Beattle. It’s like an easter egg, only you’re finding them in reverse.


Jaye and her best friend Mahandra remind me a lot of Daria and Jane from Daria – Anti-social by choice, but incredibly loyal to the people they’ve let into their lives. Also, they’re equally sarcastic, so those scenes are especially amusing.


The other core relationships on the show are equally enjoyable to watch. Part of growing up is starting to see parents and siblings in a new light and Wonderfalls captures that shift in family dynamics well. Its actually impressive how well developed the entire Tyler family is despite the show’s limited run.


The muses, which is what the animal-faced inanimate objects are called, each have their own distinct personality too. Although they might annoy the hell out of Jaye, they’re part of the show’s unique charm. My favorites are the wax lion and the brass monkey. (I actually own a replica brass monkey bookend, one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.)


Wonderfalls is just 13 episodes, and while that is not a cause for celebration, it certainly makes for an easy marathon. Good luck finding it online though – you’re best bet is a hard copy. On the plus side, the DVD set has some solid bonus features like insightful and amusing episode commentaries and a behind the scenes documentary. There’s also a featurette on special effects, but to be honest I’m not sure how impressive they are after all these years.


Bottom line, do you like budding romance? Comedy? Thought provoking discussions on spirituality and higher powers? Family drama? Mystery? Heartache? Inanimate objects with animal faces? Crazy random happenstances? Niagara Falls? Because Wonderfalls has all of those things and more.

Bonus Fun Fact: Adam Scott was originally cast to play Jaye’s brother Aaron and Kerry Washington was cast as Mahandra, check it out in this unaired pilot:

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Written by Jamie Paton

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