By now you have probably binged Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy like all of us here at Geeky ErrAU. We are sure you have your thoughts and here are ours. It’s a mixture of loving certain aspects, not being crazy about others, but still excited for a possible second season.
I’ve always been aware of The Umbrella Academy but never read the series. I’ll admit the framework of the story is intriguing and fun. Mysterious children born with superpowers being adopted by a strange billionaire and raised to be superheroes. That’s completely up my alley. But it felt like not all of the cast was bringing the story to life and that might be due to fringe characters taking up more of the screen time that should have been dedicated to the Hargreeves and exploring their abilities and family dynamics. It’s saying something when my favorite character is Ben, the dead brother, who probably only had a little more screen time than Pogo the Chimpanzee servant.
This doesn’t mean I wasn’t a fan of the show. I still enjoyed it and a big part of that was thanks to the music (that soundtracks was AMAZING!). Which makes sense when Gerard Way is co-creator of the series. But I also think the show had a lot of great small moments and humor to keep the story interesting. The family dance number, Number Five’s love for a mannequin, visiting the Rosebud Motel from Schitt‘s Creek, Klaus and Ben, and of course the impending apocalypse.
I’ll still happily binge a second season but I really hope they explore this dysfunctional family and what they can do when they actually work together and support each other. And maybe add some more dance numbers? Just a thought.
When it comes to superhero adaptations to screen, I’ve been feeling a little burned out, but Umbrella Academy was a refreshing new addition to my Netflix feed. Having never read, or even seen the source comic, I began watching with a completely blank slate. It is a darker Royal Tenenbaums-like take on the genre, paired with captivating visuals and an awesome soundtrack. What sold me on binge watching my way through was the personality revealing, dance number about 30 minutes into the first episode. The unique juxtaposition of the music choices of key scenes works in unique ways, like peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches. Though some of the events along the way are predictable, and some frustrating, the ending felt fresh-it is definitely worth enrolling in.
After seeing promos for The Umbrella Academy, I was instantaneous counting down until February 15. The show seemed to check all my favorite boxes – superpowers: check; makeshift inter-racial familial situation: check; a new chapter in Ellen Page’s career: check; Tom Hopper and his abs: check (x6).
Over its premiere weekend, binging UA was a bit of a roller coaster – a slightly odd misshapen ride that Five might have found in a post-apocalyptic Six Flags, one with highs, lows, loops, and plateaus. I was psyched to see how the show was even more whimsical than I’d thought – with Pogo, the Commission, the delightful Delores… The world had tons of sparks of quirkiness that combined to create a dynamic backdrop. The soundtrack was amazing, right from the start with Vanya’s banger rendition of Phantom. Five was a treat to watch – 58 years of knowledge, hardship, and grit stuffed into the body of a 13-year-old, radiating through sarcasm and fervor. Klaus was even more entertaining, with Robert Sheehan managing humor and depth that made me wish there were spin-off called Klaus&Ben.
That said, certain parts felt flat to me. With some characters portrayed so evenly, outliers really stuck out – Vanya was a little too glowering, her transformation too quick; Leonard was too obviously creepy (like, really, Vanya?); the Commission’s best assassins really just weren’t good at their jobs.
All in all, however, by the end, I wanted to watch more. Even with the ups, downs, and ‘meh’s’ the first season of UA accomplished the most important thing. It laid a foundation for future seasons, seasons I would also binge in their first weekends because this one left me with lingering hopes, expectations, and questions – Will they save the world? Will they help and accept Vanya? Will Luther and Allison go from brother-sister to boyfriend- girlfriend? Is it okay for me to have a crush on a teenage ghost/octopus? (Seriously asking)
I look forward to finding out in future seasons, and no doubt, it’ll be a really fun ride.
The Umbrella Academy has all the cheat codes for a good show: a talented cast, a fantastic soundtrack, a dysfunctional super-powered family, a British monkey butler and a plot about stopping the end of the world! But just like Vanya, in the beginning, it doesn’t really feel special. I really enjoyed all the elements of the show but it just wasn’t enough to make me love it. It’s not entirely a new concept but the fresh elements aren’t as fresh as I think they try to be. Which make the show way too predictable for me.
Still, I found Klaus’s and Five’s storylines entirely engaging and I wish I had spent more times with Klaus and Dave. Though I’m biased because I loved Robert Sheehan (Klaus) in Misfits! Also, I was so happy to see Agnes get her happy ending. I hope season two allows the characters to be more complex, raw and sarcastic. Also if they could up Vanya’s wardrobe budget; I can’t handle another J.Crew blue sweater.
As someone who knows every line to “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance and rocked beautiful emo bangs for most of high school, I was pretty much all in when it came to The Umbrella Academy before even beginning the first episode. Then they went and added a killer soundtrack, Robert Michael Sheehan, and the apocalypse and I was officially all in!
Sure the first season of the show has some problematic plot lines, character development, and maybe just a bit too much of an emo Vanya (that “going to the concert” look was a wee bit over the top for me) but as a whole the first season was highly enjoyable and leaves audiences questioning what’s next for the Hargreeve siblings.
While I could probably write at least 1000 words on the relationship between Klaus and Ben, the theme that really stood out to me while watching the show was the notion of acceptance. The understanding that no one is truly average and we are all some kind of misfit that is in somewhat f*!ked up. We see this theme most present in the storyline surrounding Vanya but if you pay attention all the siblings are dealing with demons and need help and support. No matter how strong, smart, talented, etc you are you can’t escape self-doubt. I know that is some heavy subplot for a show that literally features a talking chimpanzee.
I do believe that my favorite part of the first season (please Netflix announce that season two is coming!) would be the final moments. Even though the Hargreeve siblings completely fail at saving the world from the apocalypse, they finally come together and save one another. And while the season can be corny in terms of the family coming together in the final moments, it also sends the message that failure is simply apart of life, even for superheroes. All you can do is just try again.
I want to end my little (sorry it is kind of long for like a group review, I know, I get it) with saying that Luther has no right to be “the leader.” Allison should be the leader, she grew so much in this season and was the only sibling to not give up on Vanya. She knew that they needed to be together and support one another. While Luther was off brooding about being trapped on the moon…