Review: The Umbrella Academy

By Anastasia Scott

Do you love superheroes? Do you love emotionally constipated characters? Do you love over the top comic aesthetics? Are you still in your angsty phase of loving My Chemical Romance/Gerard Way? And lastly, do you love amazing soundtrack? If you’ve answered yes to any of the following questions, put Netflix’s Umbrella Academy on your watch list.

Umbrella Academy is a Netflix original series based of a comic book series by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame and Gabriel Bá. It follows a dysfunctional family of ex superheroes who, after their father dies, come together to somehow stop the apocalypse from happening. Each of the characters must battle their own demons and try to reconcile their differences before the end of the world or else everyone dies; you know, your regular kind of family reunion.

The circus of characters are enough to keep the show going. Each of the children all have come out of their childhood with various scars– some physical, some mental, and each with their own compelling story. Number 1, or Luther, is super strong and until his father’s death had been on the moon for four years collecting samples and studying it. He has to try and navigate his way through life when most of his life has been under his father’s shadow and in isolation. Number 2, or Diego, has the power to manipulate thrown objects such as knives while in flight. He attempted to become a police officer but was kicked out of the academy. Instead of following the law to stop criminals, he became a vigilante. Number 3, or Allison, has the ability to make people do what she wants by simply stating: “I heard a rumor.” She is a starlet who has recently had a fallout with her husband which resulted in divorce and loss of custody of her daughter. Number 4, or Klaus, is able to see and speak to the dead. To numb his ability and the demons of his past, Klaus turned to drugs and has overdosed on more than one occasion. Number 5, with no other name but a number, has the ability to jump through space and time. Five disappeared at a young age and suddenly reappears seventeen years later, the same age he was when he left, with the news that apocalypse is happening and that he’s come back to save his family. Number 6, or Ben, is largely unknown in the show. We don’t get much information about him, except for the simple fact that at a young age he died and has clung to his brother Klaus. Finally, Number 7, or Vanya, has no ability, which caused a rift between her and the family.

Each of the characters alone could have their own show, but instead the show takes turns telling their stories. They do it quite expertly as well: never does it feel like one character gets more screen time than another. The relationships between each of the siblings are well fleshed out and they genuinely feel like siblings. Sometimes when media tries to portray brothers and sisters we get this weird, stilted, overly sweet relationship or them constantly at each other’s throats. While at first they are pretty ready to tear each other apart for some reason or other, throughout the season there are sweet moments that show each of these characters truly care about what happens to the others, in their own stilted way.

Another wonderful thing about Umbrella Academy is it doesn’t take itself to seriously, unlike the DC and Marvel cinematic universes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of the movies. However, where they are dark and gritty, Umbrella Academy, keeps to a lot of its over the top comic book roots, within reason. There are random moments where the characters decide to dance or the villains have weird animal masks or the fact that a talking chimpanzee steals the show. But it also has its dark moments. I mean the show starts off with a funeral. It’s able to keep a nice balance of being realistic, well as realistic as a superhero family can be, and also being super weird and silly.

Not to say the show doesn’t have its faults. Sometimes the pacing is a little off: with seven characters to keep track of and sometimes more, it’s hard to keep everything well jointed and flowing. It can be a little over the top at times, but I can forgive for the simple fact that it is intentional, but not everyone will love that. If you are someone who wants everything explained to you and leaving you with no questions, this show isn’t for you. We only get a few answers and I highly doubt if the series is continued that we’ll be getting many more direct answers.

I really enjoyed the show though. It’s fun and interesting, since we don’t see everyone getting along right away and they still aren’t perfect. I always enjoy seeing a new side to a genre that we haven’t before and I highly recommend it if you haven’t watched it yet.

Rating: 4/5