Novel, unique, and playfully dark, “The Umbrella Academy” is an unorthodox superhero Netflix Original Series, following the not-so-super Hargreeves family.
Based on the comics written by Gerard Way, lead singer of pop punk band My Chemical Romance (MCR), the show follows a dysfunctional family of superheroes and their reunion after the disbanding of their juvenile hero group, The Umbrella Academy. With slow-paced character-driven stories, a MCR “flavor” to the plot and story, wonderful characterizations, and perfectly blended side-plots, the series is an excellent example of the deconstruction of the superhero genre, and the effects that such a life can have on a young hero ensemble. Filled to the brim with grim humor and story beats, there’s more to this show than a need to be quirky or edgy.
The show is a passion project for Gerard Way, and serves as an ode to his childhood inspirations: Dungeons & Dragons and comic books. When confronting tropes and clichés in the superhero genre, Way embraces them wholeheartedly and uses them to his advantage. In an interview with New Musical Express, a British music journalism website and magazine, Way said “… because people already know what those archetypes are, it allows us to really do much crazier things, whether it’s exploring psychology or the family dynamic. Whatever really. Those classic characters basically did the set up for us to take them on and explore them further, to go deeper.”
The series is a show that does not stop for explanations and expects the viewer to keep up and catch up. With no overdrawn on-the-nose backstories for characters, you are expected to recognize and go along with some frankly absurd ideas, which makes it a wild rollercoaster of worldbuilding. If possible, I would recommend going in completely blind.
The colorful cast of characters leaves any prospective viewer entertained, and always with a favorite. It’s a finely crafted universe with even finer characters and soundtrack. Without a doubt, it is the unsuspected hit Netflix show of the year thus far, and is well worth the binge. Spanning ten one-hour-long episodes, “Umbrella Academy” will certainly leave you craving more, curious of what’s to come in following seasons.