The Umbrella Academy: Watch it or waste it?
Recently I decided to watch The Umbrella Academy unsure of what to expect. All I knew going in was that the show was about superpowers and that a lot of people thought it was entertaining.
Now that I have binged both seasons, all I can really say is that The Umbrella Academy gives me mixed feelings.
There are pros and cons, so let’s go down the line and see what you can expect from The Umbrella Academy.
The show has a lot of unique ideas that are well executed. The way they play with time travel, superpowers and other sci-fi concepts is fun and interesting.
The show isn’t afraid to take risks with its presentation. It’s a blend of genres with its sci-fi-drama driven narrative—all tied together with a comedic tone.
The show manages to appeal to a large audience and keep them coming back for more. I’ll be the first to admit that I found myself binging both seasons in less than a week—even though I typically struggle to get through series.
In addition, I thought the cinematography and special effects were consistently good—although the sets and costumes really took a step up in season two.
I also like how the show depicts social issues—especially in the second season. Without spoiling anything, I enjoyed the equality protesting subplot as well as how the show handled the hardships LGBTQ couples have faced.
Most of my grievances can be found in the plot. The story was good in the first season, even having some really cool twists.
However, as the second season came, I noticed much of the development that characters had gone through had been minimized.
Struggles the characters faced in the first season were in some cases ignored or lazily undone for the sake of convenience.
While I did like some of the performances, too many were forgettable and lackluster.
The chemistry in most of the on-screen romantic relationships was awkward for nearly every couple. This becomes a problem when just about every single character on your show is romantically involved with someone else.
There were two relationships I liked. However, nearly every onscreen relationship involved actors who couldn’t effectively communicate with one another.
The Umbrella Academy frequently presents the audience with what is meant to be interpreted as high stakes. Often the characters are trying to save the world, save civilians or save each other.
However, the show often fails to make the audience feel those stakes. The characters themselves are written to make lighthearted jokes about what should be serious subject matter.
Doing this sparingly can improve the presentation of a show when done correctly. However, The Umbrella Academy always seems to overdo it.
Characters will often make decisions that undermine high stakes — making them look oblivious. As a result, the audience cares less about the characters that they’re supposed to be cheering for.
My biggest gripe with the writing is that the death of established characters is never very meaningful.
When a character dies on-screen and is then revived, the audience has been robbed of some of their emotional investment.
Made even worse, when a character dies later down the line, the emotional punch is lost since the audience knows that death isn’t final.
Some shows and films manage to bring characters back from the dead without ruining the audience’s emotional attachment. The Umbrella Academy on the other hand is guilty of ruining deaths—possibly more than any other piece of media I have consumed.
This problem is also caused by time travel where dead characters can be seen alive once again—in a time before their death.
There have even been instances where characters suffer what should be fatal injuries but are saved by advanced technology, making a full recovery not long after.
For a show that is so willing to take chances on telling stories with far-out sci-fi elements, it’s disappointing they are so risk-averse to letting their characters die.
They are so unwilling to maintain any serious loss that it begins to take away from the more impressive items that the show brings to the table.
Despite all my grievances with The Umbrella Academy, I still think it’s a good show that I enjoyed binging. But for the reasons that I mentioned, it fails at being a great show.
Unless they can improve on their downsides—mainly the writing and plot-related issues—all the show will ever be in my eyes is decent.
I still look forward to season three and am excited to see what the show surprises me with next.