Editor’s Note: For the next few weeks, the Lifestyle section will be showcasing their favorite podcasts, TV shows, movies, books and more to help UMass students while self-sequestering, quarantining or just to pass the time as COVID continually keeps us indoors. Welcome to Getting Through.
When I sat down to watch the “Umbrella Academy,” I had no idea what to expect. I had a vague idea that it was a superhero show about a group of millennials with superhuman abilities, that coincidentally were all born on the same day. That was about all I knew, and I was rather expecting it to feel like a cheap X-men knockoff. What I did not expect was a highly intelligent talking (British) monkey named Pogo, a hyper-realistic android known as “Mom,” a secret society of highly trained, bloodthirsty individuals that manage and monitor the space and time continuum, time-traveling shenanigans, donuts, oh and of course, multiple apocalypses. The Umbrella Academy might be one of the strangest shows I have ever seen, yet it is also one of the most entertaining.
Where Umbrella Academy shines is in its originality. Something that I think makes for good television is when you can’t suspect what will happen next. Having not read the comics, every episode held something unexpected. It’s fantastically imaginative, although I would definitely label it as being quirky and at times downright odd. It’s definitely what I would call an acquired taste and one that I actually had to build up to. But as I kept watching, what really shone through was how strong the character development is throughout each episode.
At its core, it is a show about family and all of the dysfunctional aspects that come with it. While the Academy is not your typical family, given their superhuman abilities, they struggle with many things that we all do. Whether it’s wanting to be loved and accepted by your family, dealing with grief and trauma, coping with substance abuse, a recent divorce, or being stranded on the moon…okay, that one might be a little less common, the show is really about what it means to be a family and all the hardships that come with it. They fight, disagree, and almost try to kill each other (and actually succeed in one instance), yet at the end of the day, what Umbrella Academy delivers to viewers is a tale of dysfunctional individuals who still try to be there for one another despite their flaws.
Another aspect of the show that I think shines through is its irreverent and whimsical humor. There are instances when you aren’t sure if a character will live to see the next day, whether they’re being shot at, chased, or beaten, yet they always seem able to bring levity to any situation. During a year that’s been stressful and depressing for many, including myself, Umbrella Academy is a welcome escape, but it is not mindless television. I find the writing to be quite intelligent, and it strays from falling into any superhero stereotypes or overdone tropes. With two seasons readily available for your viewing pleasure on Netflix, it’s a fun, if not quirky watch for your next binge.
Email Emma Sammuli at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @emma_sammuli