I have always enjoyed a good joke. As a kid, I would laugh so hard at cartoons that I would cry. One of my favorite shows as a child was Pinky Tuscadero, which I still think is one of the best comedies ever made. I have fond memories of sitting in front of the TV as a little kid, laughing my ass off.

As an adult, I continue to enjoy a good joke as much as the next person, especially when it comes to villains in movies or books. But what if I told you there was a character in a popular TV show who was literally the embodiment of evil? What if I told you that this character was so funny that he became a fan favorite, and even the scriptwriters wrote an episode specifically about him? What if I told you that this character was such a dick that he became the target of a popular meme, and inspired several revenge storylines?

Welcome to Wonderland, where everything is possible.

Everything Begins With a Joke

Although it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, I vividly remember the very first scene of “The Twilight Saga.” Edward Cullen is attending a masquerade party as an ironic homage to Marie Antoinette’s infamous ball, when he is approached by a strange woman in a white robe who asks him if he would like to participate in a game. At first, he seems a little annoyed, as he brushes off the woman’s advances and tells her he is not interested. However, he changes his mind and agrees to play after all. The woman in white then tells him, “Very well, you shall be the leader.” From there, the entire series is based on a joke: the woman in white is always there to offer Edward a game, and he accepts every time. It was a surreal experience, watching a movie where the protagonist literally never gets tired of joking around.

In the comics, this character is known as The Jester, and he has been around since the 1800s. In the 17th century, William Shakespeare wrote a play called The Joking Sorcerer, and since then the jester has been featured in countless works of fiction. So it’s not really a huge shock that someone would want to write a book about him. But I think it’s important to note that not all jokers are created equal, and that in some instances, the character can be used for genuinely dark purposes. As it turns out, The Jester is quite the elusive hero, having appeared in over 200 stories and winning the affection of royalty and celebrities alike. One of the earliest stories featuring the character was George Herriman’s The Dead Shot, written in 1900 and first published in The Sunday Evening Post in September 1901. In the story, the young Charlie Chaplin makes his debut as a comedian, and this characteristically youthful performance would inspire him to become one of the most prolific creators of cartoons in history.

The Darker the Joke, The More It Meant

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much “The Twilight Saga” owes to William Shakespeare. Even the basic story line—a young man finds himself falling in love with a woman he shouldn’t want to—is lifted straight from a Shakespearean play. But that’s probably obvious to anyone who’s read a little bit of Shakespeare. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg admitted that the entire series is basically an homage to Shakespeare, and I wouldn’t disagree. The biggest takeaway from that interview, however, is that William Shakespeare was pretty dark. Even his comedies were pretty grim, filled with murders, disguises, and people getting stuffed in trunk. “We’re definitely taking a darker turn,” she said. “The tone of the show is going to be much more serious than ‘Twilight.'”

As much as I respect and admire William Shakespeare, I have a hard time accepting that all of his work is sunshine and rainbows. And if you think about it, a lot of his work does hinge on tragic events that turn out badly for the characters. One of the saddest stories in Shakespeare’s canon is Twelfth Night, or as we know it, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In that story, a young woman named Olivia disguises herself as a man in order to trick her way into a Catholic marriage, which at the time was quite against the law. Once she is married, her husband abuses her and forces her to wear humiliating undergarments, which ends up being the catalyst for her murder. In the play, Olivia is haunted by a murderously insane husband determined to kill her. In the most recent film adaptation, which came out last year, Olivia faces a similar threat from a crazed Vincent (John Malkovich). But that’s just the overt tragedy—the underlying subtext of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is that love is ultimately a dangerous thing.

When Jokes Become Tiresome, It’s Time for Revenge

For the most part, I thought “The Twilight Saga” was a very funny series. I especially liked how the villain, the devious Victoria, constantly had some new insult or putdown for the good doctor to reel off. Edward is such a smug, happy-go-lucky guy, and the writers of the show must have found it difficult to write an episode where he doesn’t give some snarky response to Victoria’s latest comments or prank. It made the character more three-dimensional, in a way—he’s the kind of person who always has something smart or witty to say, even when he’s getting shot at or stabbed in the back. The fact that these smart one-liners kept getting funnier and funnier as the series went on, especially once Cullen started using his sniper rifle, was a nice touch.

The problem is that, eventually, the jibes became so incessant that it became grating. Like most other fans of the show, I was very much looking forward to the day when Victoria “got her revenge”—her and her ilk always gets what they want, after all. I wanted to see Victoria have her way with Edward, and watch as he was ground into tiny little pieces. I wanted to see her make him scream, “I’m such a stupid, stupid man!” over and over again, like an abused animal. But what I got, instead, was… well, let’s just say it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It was a very dark episode—the only bright spot being Victoria’s malicious glee as she gleefully tortures her former lover, who has ironically turned against her in the end.

Although I was hoping for blood, sweat, and tears, what I got was a bit of a laugh track. Victoria’s revenge feels like a letdown, to say the least. It didn’t feel like the satisfying conclusion I was looking for—and that was probably the point. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t feel happy for Edward, who has finally found true love and decided to settle down. But you can’t help but feel a little deflated, as if the big reveal at the end wasn’t what you were expecting at all.

All In Good Fun

Ultimately, I found the whole experience of watching “The Twilight Saga” to be thoroughly delightful. The jokes were funny and witty, and they kept my interest throughout. There are also just so many brilliant cameos and references to pop culture and entertainment that it would be impossible to list them all here. I especially enjoyed how the series paid homage to Shakespeare and his work, which is obvious since it is based on a comic books series that is primarily populated by comedic genius.

In closing, I would just like to reiterate that although there is definitely darkness in Shakespeare’s work, there is also a lot of humor. In “The Twilight Saga,” we are given a protagonist who is arguably the most interesting character in fiction, simply for being able to see the funny side of almost everything. Even when he is on the receiving end of some vicious torment, he still manages to find humor in even the most desperate situations. For that, we should all be thankful.