What they've created, as a result, is in many ways an American Studies seminar focusing on the sitcom's status as a reflection of cultural change. The pilot's a 1950s sitcom—think I Love Lucy/Leave It To Beaver. Episode Two offers a subtle shift into the television comedies of the sixties—The Dick Van Dyke Show shading into Bewitched, in particular. The third episode explodes in a riot of Brady Bunch colors and polyester and shag carpeting—and, presumably, so on, through the following episodes.
What is striking is how straight this conceit is played, and with what assiduous attention to detail it is wrought. In interviews, the cast has talked about the "sitcom boot camp" they attended, which consisted of studying episodes of sitcoms from different eras. It shows: Watch how the great Kathryn Hahn, playing nosy neighbor Agnes, holds her arms as she talks, how her pinkies remain preternaturally extended. Listen to how Olsen's wry delivery in the first episode slides into something more earnest and bubbly in the second. Notice how the series' special effects—as when Wanda must use her telekinesis to whip up a quick meal—remain rigorously period-appropriate (the wires holding up the mixing bowl and the whisk have been CGI'd out, but the stiff artificiality of it all remains). And, mostly, take note of how unsettling it becomes at those moments when the pilot's bright multi-camera, shot-before-a-live-studio audience mis-en-scene abruptly switches to a single-camera close-up of a character's face steeped in foreboding shadows.
It's effective, this dedication to the tone, look and feel of the sitcom genre. How else to explain why, despite knowing it's all an illusion, we find ourselves truly invested in the frippery of a given episode's ostensible plot—Will Vision's boss be impressed when he comes to dinner? Will their powers get revealed? Will they win the town's talent contest? Etc.
There will be plenty of Marvel fans who'll prove unwilling or unable to suspend their impatience long enough to get to what is sure to be an impressive fireworks factory, down around episodes eight or nine or so, probably. It's a lot to ask of people who aren't sufficiently interested in the sitcom as a genre to appreciate the series' deep meditation on that most American of texts, and nod approvingly at, for example, its production design—at the way, in early episodes, Wanda and Vision's home smashes together the Bewitched living room and the Dick Van Dyke Show kitchen.