REVIEW: ‘The Umbrella Academy’


Samantha Dickerson, Lifestyles Editor

When I scroll through my Netflix homepage, I no longer even think about watching anything that is not a drama. I have a very solid opinion on the company’s sitcoms and I believed that it would never change. So when my best friend said she wanted to watch “The Umbrella Academy” with me, I was less than enthusiastic.

I believe what I immediately said was, “good grief. No.” Not another do-good superhero show. Not another show trying too hard to be ironic and dark that I would have to suffer through. However, after episode one, I realized that this dark, twisted version of those genres was exactly what Netflix and I needed.

‘The Umbrella Academy” is about 43 children that are all born on October 1, 1989 and generally jumps between flashbacks, time jumps and the current universe. These children all possess interesting abilities, and Sir Reginald Hargreeves, an “eccentric” billionaire, tries to “adopt” all of them in an insane attempt on experiment; however, he ends up with only seven and raises them under strict and horrible conditions.

The children are forced to perform “superhero” training and are generally only referred to by Hargreeves as their assigned number. Through an accident that had been left open-ended by the first season of the show, Number Six has died, and Number Five has disappeared trying to jump through time.

Flash forward and the children have grown up. All of the remaining members have heard of the death of Hargreeves, and they must regroup for his funeral. Number Five reappears in a vortex and throughout the show, he reveals that an impending apocalypse has killed everyone in the present, and they must stop it using a board of time-controlling beings known as “the Commision.”

The plot gets more complicated from there, and the only way for someone not to get too confused is to just keep watching. All of the characters have their own demons that they must work through to help stop the apocalypse.

One thing that I really like about these characters is that their powers are realistic. They are not too fantastical and they can not fly. They are mortals with abilities instead of the all too familiar trope of the “god-like” heroes that only work for the “good” of man. These characters are still children in their own ways and are just trying to find themselves and please their father figure.

Aside from providing a new twist on an old genre, “The Umbrella Academy” can almost be described as cathartic for many reasons.

This show proves that all characters do not have to be lovable, and even lovable characters can be flawed. Pogo, voiced by Adam Godley, and Grace, played by Jordan Claire Robbins, are both great examples. They are considered the true parental figures for the group, even after they grow up, but they hide secrets for Hargreeves and it ruins the trust that the group holds for them.

The character development in this show is strong and satisfying to say the least. Where the first five children start off slightly unbearable and conceited about their own talents, they end up making a great sacrifice for each other. Watching them really turn into a family is the greatest gift that this show gives its viewers and hopefully the show will explore these new relationships in the next season.

This show also shines a light on mental illness and the consequences of neglect in a way that many superhero/antihero shows do not. It follows Vanya, also known as Number Seven, as she grows from a young girl being left out of her “family’s” outings and training to her as an adult where she is sedated and lacks extreme self-confidence. Luther, or Number One, is fighting the feelings of uselessness and loss of self. Klaus, or Number Four, is working through a drug addiction that is in response to post traumatic stress from his childhood and from war. Number Five deals with anthropomorphism, in his case having a romantic relationship with a department store mannequin, from loneliness and fear.

Although Netflix has not yet announced when the next season will be released, I know I will be waiting on the edge of my seat to see more from this gang of misfits and antiheroes and to see how they will wrap up loose strings in the plot.