One of the biggest breakout series’ I’ve watched so far this year, other than Titans, has been The Umbrella Academy. And I was aware of it as a comic book before then, but hadn’t read it. When I heard it was coming to Netflix though, I was quite excited.
The Umbrella Academy was written by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance fame) and Gabriel Bá. It’s the story of a group of children, all born in a supernatural/freaky incident where their mothers started the day not pregnant, and by the end of it, gave birth to exceptional children. Of the more than 40 reported births from that day, an eccentric reclusive billionaire, Sir Reginald Hargreeves, adopts seven of them. Six are raised as superheroes, the 7th, Vanya, is raised as ordinary.
The story itself jumps back and forth in time, with liberal flashbacks, and time travel (as a part of the story) thrown in. What makes it so unique though is the choice of music that goes with each jump – it always fits. For example, when Five (one of the boys) jumps forward into the future, he discovers that the world has ended, and the music chosen is a song called Run. But the song is sort of joyous in it’s first context where he’s skipping around in the street, until he jumps forward into a destroyed, apocalyptic world.
The story itself is centred around the grown children, who reunite because their ‘father’ has died. Five went missing as a teenage child, and another one of them, Ben, has died. The older children, bar Luther have all left home, disillusioned and disinterested in being there to do what their dad wants. And then there’s Vanya, who is a third seat violinist, with medication, tics and anxiety. Of course, you can tell from the outset that it’s not what it seems, but you need to watch to find out why.
The best and worst without spoilers
There’s some really big spoilers if I discuss the story line itself, so instead, I thought I’d focus on my favourite and less than favourite elements about the show itself. So, my favourite thing of all had to be Klaus. He’s a clairvoyant of sorts, and can see and hear dead people, though ostensibly, drugs himself with recreational substances to prevent it. His character arc is the most touching, and of all the characters, he’s the most quirky. Not just because he’s almost always high and irreverent. His character actually grows up quite a bit in the space of a few episodes because of something he experiences. It’s touching, and sad, and a bit twisted all at once. Klaus also channels Ben, (Number 6), who died at some point after five disappeared, but before the kids all split. Not much is said about that, but Klaus can channel the dead, including their abilities, so that could come in handy later, making Ben dead, but still almost a part of the team.
What I didn’t like was I could tell exactly what was going to happen, about two episodes in. I guessed the big twist at the end, I guessed the things that made the various people in the house unique, and I guessed how the world ended. I’m not sure if it was because I could see the tropes they were using, or if it was just luck, but I did feel it was a touch predictable. There were some nice twists along the way, but a lot of it was just… predictable.
I did also think their use of time travel to change one specific day was pretty much a cheat too – had the day continued the way it had, things may have played out … better for them, who knows, and I do feel like it’s something that was just chucked in to put them on the path towards doom. Finally, I thought some of the story was rushed, or elements were disjointed, due to their use. I wasn’t sure, for example, why they bothered with some of the reveal about Sir Reginald – what could have been a touching element just seemed pointless, but maybe that’ll be fixed in season 2, who knows?
So far, there is a second season, and I’m looking forward to it. In a few months, I’ll do a recap of the show, so it’s not quite so fresh and ‘spoilery’ 🙂
Have you watched? What did you think? Below is one of my favorite scenes, showing each of them dancing. It’s a very clever effect at the end.