A Dysfunctional Family Drama With A Powerful Twist
There are few genres The “Umbrella Academy” doesn’t fit into. Revolving around a group of siblings, who, seventeen years before the show takes place, were superheroes, and who haven’t seen each other since they disbanded, it can best be described as a family drama. Yet the gorgeously choreographed action scenes, set to upbeat, funky music reminiscent of the 80’s, call a superhero movie like the Guardians Of The Galaxy volumes from Marvel to mind. Add in multiple oddball romances, handfuls of hilarious jokes, and it’s hard to place the show in any specific category. The show knows this, reveling in it’s authenticity and eccentricism, fully proud of the wild elements that make it a masterpiece.
So let’s break it down, shall we? To start, The Umbrella Academy’s character work is magnificent, fully fleshing out the seven siblings as well as minor characters. Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Five, Ben, and Vanya Hargreeves are all unique individuals, bundling in the effects of child fame with washed-up superheroes who don’t know how to let go. Each with their own powers and histories, they are entrancing to watch, and each actor holds their own. The family’s adoptive patriarch, Reginald Hargreeves, plays the part of their abuser, isolating them and forcing them to use their powers. It’s his death that draws them all together, accompanied with the news that the apocalypse will arrive in eight days, and they’re the only ones that can stop it.
To couple with these complex heroes are complex villains. Cha-Cha and Hazel, agents from a futuristic agency set on keeping the Earth’s timeline in-check and making sure what’s supposed to happen does happen, are both frighteningly interesting and funny. Scenes of them parading into the Hargreeves’ mansion, machine guns ablazing while creepy children’s masks cover their faces are strikingly memorable, especially when they follow the pair complaining about their lack of dental insurance. Their boss, The Handler, is scarier still, wearing an eerie facade of benevolence as she casually commits horrific crimes.
The family mansion’s staff wraps up the major character list. There’s Pogo, a speaking, humanoid monkey that serves as the family’s butler and was complacent in their abuse since they were first adopted. He’s accompanied by Grace, an android styled after the ideal 1950’s housewife, neglected by Reginald and dedicated to the children, even as they reach their 30s. Conflicts follow these two like a rain cloud over their heads.
There’s little else to be said, as it is so bundled with twists and turns that anything more would be a spoiler. Nonetheless, “The Umbrella Academy” is one of the best shows Netflix has produced so far, and fingers are crossed for a second season.