Arts & Entertainment

Review: “The Umbrella Academy”

By Emma Brenner
Staff Writer

Just over a month ago, “The Umbrella Academy” dropped on Netflix and immediately piqued binge-watching interest. It boasts an eclectic cast, including “Game of Thrones” actor Tom Hopper, LGBT activist Ellen Page and Broadway singer Emmy Raver-Lampman. The characters and story are originally based off the comic books series of the same name.

“The Umbrella Academy” shares the history of seven children, all unrelated, who were born in different places around the world on Oct. 1, 1989. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, described as an “eccentric billionaire and adventurer,” bought and raised these infants as members of his Umbrella Academy. Six of the students developed special powers, which he taught them to control and use to fight evil.

The Netflix series begins by reuniting the children, who are now adults, for the funeral of Sir Hargreeves. Mysteries unravel as his death may have been murder, old family tensions return and the inevitable apocalypse to come.

Analyzing the show technically, the cinematography is fun, fast-paced and colorful. The camera shots vary from wide to close-up, capturing the talent of the cast and visual appeal of the various settings. The show’s broad taste in music perhaps has the largest effect on each scene’s mood. Viewers enjoy classics from Queen to Etta James to Woodkid.

The Umbrella Academy House provides an antique vibe with wooden furniture, crown molding and collections of paintings. The Academy’s graduates don’t stay there and instead explore the city streets, night clubs, motels, orchestras and even a very pink donut shop. In this case, the sets fulfill the imagination for this fantasy.

The plot itself is fantastic, as well. Like any well-crafted story, it consists of one overarching plot accompanied by subplots, but the Umbrella Academy refuses to be conventional. Its subplots strengthen the characters and story immensely, sometimes even stealing entire episode spotlights. The show isn’t so much about stopping the bad guys. Instead, it’s a story of a dysfunctional family.

The brief series shares humor, action violence, suspense, plot twists and romance. It explores real-life issues, such as overcoming tragedy and facing consequences for irreversible mistakes. It even delves into the complexities that adopted siblings face and what distant and neglectful parenting results in.

One on-screen relationship does spark controversy though. Two of the Academy members possess undeniable, romantic chemistry from the first episode. While they are not biologically related, all seven children call each other “brother” and “sister.” It raises the question of incest: does it count between adopted siblings?

Regardless, “The Umbrella Academy” is a weird, entertaining and original adventure. It brings vibrant characters to life, including its villains, making them human and relatable.

I’d argue that diversity is what makes the show so moving and sensational. Ethnicities, skin colors, personalities and sexualities vary greatly along with realistic depictions of drug addiction, PTSD, guilt, anxiety, self-esteem and grief all being portrayed.

If nothing else, watch “The Umbrella Academy” to see yourself in characters that can lift boulders and throw knives like boomerangs. If you want to see a ragtag group of maldeveloped adults attempting to prevent the apocalypse, this is a good show for that too.


Categories: Arts & Entertainment