When Wet Hot American Summer was first released in 2001, it was a feature-length wacky parody of ‘80s summer camp movies. Now, Netflix has basically elevated that single movie in a glorious comedy TV franchise full of lots of references, Easter Eggs, and extremely weird jokes. But I bet there’s one Easter Egg in Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later that you didn’t even see — and when I tell you exactly what it was, it’s going to completely warm your heart.
From the moment that creators David Wain and Michael Showalter announced that they were interested in doing some kind of a sequel, fans (myself included) wondered if it would have something to do with the 10 year reunion that Bradley Cooper’s character Ben suggests in the very first movie. Instead, they went with a prequel series to start out with in First Day Of Camp in 2015, probably because asking everyone to play younger versions of the roles they were already too old for is just too funny and weird a concept not to try.
But in the sequel, Ten Years Later finally reveals more of that fateful reunion. Yes, I said more. Bear with me a second.
Spoilers beyond this point!
In the very last episode of Ten Years Later, JJ (Zak Orth) walks across the camp and opens a door. Beyond it lie the prominent members of the Wet Hot camp counselor cast. “I’m sorry, I thought we said 9:30,” he says, only for Susie (Amy Poehler) to correct him: “No, we said 9 so we could be here by 9:30.”
It’s a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment, but if you rewind it and look again, you’ll probably realize something is off in that few seconds of footage. First of all, everyone seems to look a lot younger, and they and all have different haircuts (the episode lampshades that later, when Gary tells JJ that Neil gave him a makeover for his new restaurant position). It’s also not Adam Scott playing Bradley Cooper anymore, as he did for the entirety of the series — it’s actually Bradley Cooper himself. So what happened? Did Ben’s deviated septum return?
The answer, not surprisingly, can be found at the end of the original Wet Hot American Summer movie. If you’ve never made it all the way to the end of the credits, then you might have missed out on this post-credit sequence that features the original cast.
Rather than recreate all the outfits and the blocking that was used in that scene, Ten Years Later just takes the exact same footage and slips it right in there at the end. Which, when you think about it, is kind of genius: everyone in Wet Hot is so famous now that it’s probably difficult to get them all in a room to film the TV series, so why not just use the stuff you’ve already got?
Now that Wet Hot American Summer has done the first day of camp and the 10 year reunion, I wonder what they'll think of to do next. The Next Generation, maybe? Either way, one thing's for sure: we're probably never figure going out what McKinley's had at 11.