‘The Umbrella Academy’: Netflix’s new must-watch series

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On Feb. 14, Netflix released its new original series, “The Umbrella Academy”, based on the comic books of the same name written by Gerard Way.

Way is best known for being the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, but prior to the band, he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. One of his goals, other than music, had always been to make a comic book.

Way wrote and illustrated the original version of “The Umbrella Academy” back in 2007, but it was later re-illustrated by artist Gabriel Ba. And now, Netflix has picked up the comics and made them into a live-action television series.

Way, with help from Ray Toro, the guitarist and backing vocalist of My Chemical Romance, recorded music for the show. The two songs are “Hazy Shade of Winter” and “Happy Together.” Both are equally amazing and a welcome gift to old fans of MCR.

The show opens with a young woman at a swimming pool. She jumps into the pool perfectly fine, but when she resurfaces, the water around her is bloody and she is visibly pregnant.

“On the 12th hour of the first day of October in 1989, 43 women around the world gave birth,” the first episode begins. “This was unusual only in the fact that none of these women had been pregnant when the day first began. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, eccentric billionaire and adventurer, resolved to locate and adopt as many of the children as possible… He got seven of them.”

Six of the seven kids have some kind of superpower, and together they form the Umbrella Academy, which is effectively a group of crime-solving vigilantes. But then there’s Number 7, who doesn’t have any kind of powers at all, and who is separated from her siblings.

The show then jumps to present day, as five of the children, now grown, react to the news that their father has died. They each come back to their childhood home and regroup to face their father’s funeral.

Number 7, Vanya (Ellen Page) discusses her brother, Number 5, who disappeared when he was a kid, with Dr. Pogo. He’s a talking chimpanzee, but surprisingly, nothing about his character feels awkward. The special effects used to create him are incredibly well-done and he feels natural to everything that is going on. I’m really impressed by how normal he feels.

Despite the serious plot in the morning, there’s a lot of humor laced throughout. The siblings haven’t seen each other in years and don’t entirely get along. Each of them has a very strong and unique personality and they all conflict with one another. They all sass each other non-stop, which leads to a variety of hilarious lines. The writing here is excellent; it truly seems like the banter of siblings who haven’t seen each other in years.

There’s also an amazing scene where the five of them dance to “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Their dance moves are simultaneously horrendous and amazing, but are interrupted by their home literally exploding with blue fire out of nowhere.

Out of the flames pops Number 5, who still looks thirteen, the age he was when he disappeared. He can jump through time and space, but accidentally jumped too far and got stuck in the future. He comes back just as sassy as ever and with the mind of a 40-year-old man who loves to swear. The juxtaposition between his visual appearance and how he acts is amazing.

The show itself is beautiful. The visuals are astounding and the use of color and focus on details is gorgeous. Every scene is shot perfectly; one shot is actually filmed through the reflection in a bell at a restaurant, creatively showing how Number 5 noticed he was being approached by a group of people behind him. The entire show is masterfully done. From the writing to the production, it is beautiful through-and-through. I’m highly impressed by its mix of a serious plotline and comic-relief. I have no other way to describe it besides expertly created.

Towards the end of the episode, Number 5 is attacked by a group of men dressed in black with large guns. He (again, looking visually 13) grabs a butter knife and starts teleporting around the room, attacking them all. He kills all of them and steals a tie off of one of the dead bodies, which he then puts on before walking out of the place as if nothing happened. Honestly? Iconic.

At the end of the episode, 5 flees to 7’s house, where he reveals that when he was stuck in the future, he found nothing. The world was destroyed. All he could figure out was the date; the world was going to end in eight days, and he has no idea how to stop it.

The series has ten episodes, and the plot only gets thicker from there. The entire story is dramatic and gets crazier by the episode, but explaining it any further would give away several large reveals that are so much better if you watch them for yourself.

When I first heard they were making the comics into a show, I admit I was afraid as to how it would turn out. Netflix did not disappoint. “The Umbrella Academy” turned out amazing. I’d say I’d recommend watching an episode to try it out, but with how good it is, you’ll likely end up binging it the whole way through.

Rating: 5/5.


Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at courtney.gavitt@uconn.edu.

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