Should you watch Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy”?

Fair Use

Fair Use

Millie Haper, Editor in Chief

  On Friday, Feb 15, “The Umbrella Academy” was released on Netflix. This show was highly anticipated by fans of the comic books created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá as well as critics. The show is rated PG 14 and can be streamed now (PG 14 is a well merited rating for the show, there is a lot of violence that may not be suitable for younger audiences). It is in good faith that I express to you my overwhelming appreciation, surprise, and love for this series.

  The show follows seven ex-superheroes who were once students at the Umbrella Academy when they were children. At the Academy, the students were forced to experiment and learn with their powers under the watch of their overruling, at times abusive, adopted father. After going their separate ways, the students of the Umbrella Academy are brought together after the death of their father, for his funeral. From there, a series of events take place, including time travel, a talking monkey, a (definitely not sentient) upper half of a mannequin, hit men in cool animal masks, and jelly filled donuts.

  So what makes the show so good? To me, I can boil it down to these basic classes: comparison to source material, plot, characters, cinematography, and soundtrack.

  We begin with source material, which I feel slightly skilled in, having read the comics. The comics are, in a word, good. The plot is well thought out, the art is good, and it is a good story. It is one of Gerard Way’s best series (only second to his run of Doom Patrol). But, in comparison to the show, they are very very different. Obviously the plot points are similar, but the show expands on the universe in which “The Umbrella Academy” takes place. This is the one time where I would say that there is more detail in the movie than in the book. And it makes a fan of the comic so much more invested in the story knowing what happens and how it is similar and different. It does not change many things, and instead makes it more interesting.

  The second class is plot. Is the plot good? I would say absolutely. The show does a good job of splitting plot points up so that each episode has a different meaning for the story. And the story all together is good, albeit abstract. If you do not pay attention you may get a little lost, the abstractions however make the show very good. I have discovered recently that a good artist can take something abstract and try to explain it, and that is their art, and I think this is seen incredibly well through the show. It is a mix of a superhero story, a love story, a comedy, all mixed together with hit men and time travel. There is so much there, and it is fantastic. There is something in the story for every person to relate to in some way, while also seeing the characters and understanding them.

  Now, the third class, characters, is probably my favorite category or class. This show gives you *so many* characters. Not only does it give you the seven students of the Umbrella Academy, you are given two insane yet reasonable hit men, a talking British monkey, a dead abusive father, a robot mom, a bureaucratic time traveller, a shady love interest and a bird lady. There are so many characters, but despite this, you learn the layers within all of them. They all have so much incredible depth to all of them that it is incredibly compelling. Every character is so smartly written, and throughout the story you see eventually all of the characters interact with one another, and you get to see their relationships. It is both incredibly heartwarming and heartbreaking.. All of the acting is magnificent, including the circumstances that the actors are under.

  The fourth class is the cinematography. This show isn’t an Edgar Wright or Wes Anderson film, however, the show is so incredibly shot. The color scheme at times is incredibly dark, but it gets the mood across very well, and never is there a shot that is poor on the eyes. This is impressive, especially to me, as I think that often the more colorful a film the better it is, but within The Umbrella Academy it uses different aesthetics and some of them are dark, and I do not mind at all. The sets within the show are incredible, and add so much to everything else within the show.

  The fifth, and final class is the soundtrack. I would like you to take a minute and think about the movie or show that has the best soundtrack in your mind. Why does it have the best soundtrack? I would say a soundtrack of a show or movie is solid if it stands on its own, while also, within the show, it increases the enjoyability. And, as you may have guessed, “The Umbrella Academy” soundtrack does that So Well. I mean it full heartedly when I say that if you simply listen to the soundtrack that is fine. It is a combination of small soft songs and certified bangers. And in the show the entirety of the show is transformed. There are three scenes in particular that really stand out to me in my head, two of them are action scenes (the action scenes within this show are just so so good, I have been going back through the show to simply rewatch them), and one of them is expositional in nature, but they have such a great effect on the show as a whole that I simply have no words.

  So now that I have shared my praises about the show, or at least most of them, could this show be possibly flawed? And to that question I reply yes, it definitely is flawed. For one, the monkey CGI is, in a word, kinda horrible. Obviously they didn’t have the money required to make a British Monkey entirely life like, and I obviously can look past it. Other flaws include that at times the show can feel slow or convoluted, and sometimes these are given justification and other times it is just a little boring. I can acknowledge that these flaws are prominent in the show, but do I think they should discourage you from viewing the show? Not at all. I think it is good to acknowledge that the things that we like can be flawed, and again, in this situation all of the goods outweigh the bad.

  In conclusion, I think that you should watch this show. If you haven’t been able to tell, I think it is probably one of the best shows you can stream on Netflix right now, with “Russian Doll” coming in a close second. The show is so different from everything you have ever watched before while also being reminiscent of shows like “Stranger Things” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events” in some capacities. It has a good storyline that is not forced, with acting that seems so natural, and characters that remind us how incredibly important it is that all of us are human. This show reminds us that family can be found in the darkest of places. I absolutely adore “The Umbrella Academy” and I hope you do too.