The Umbrella Academy (2019)

[Image is a TV poster for the show The Umbrella Academy. It features the cast sitting on a hotel baggage cart.]

Superhero fatigue has been talked about a lot recently. There seems to be no shortage of superhero TV shows, movies, etc. With that being said, there are shows or movies that take on the superhero genre in a new way. I had The Umbrella Academy on my radar for a while. The recent announcement of Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly joining the cast in season #4, it piqued my interest in watching The Umbrella Academy from the beginning. The Umbrella Academy is addictive, eccentric, and offers a fresh take on the superhero genre.

The Umbrella Academy begins on October 1st 1989 where 43 women around the world give birth despite never showing any signs of being pregnant. Rich and egotistical Sir Reginald Hargreeves adopts seven of these children who start displaying extraordinary powers. Reginald trains these children to be superheroes and announces them to the world as The Umbrella Academy. Flash forward to present day, Reginald has passed away and the heroes feel that something bad must have happened to him.

Each child within the Umbrella Academy has a number assigned to them besides their first name. Starting in chronological order, there’s Luther Hargreeves aka. Number One (played by Tom Hopper) who shows signs of extraordinary strength. Diego Hargreeves aka. Number Two (played by David Castañeda) who can telekinetically move projectile objects to a specific target. Allison Hargreeves aka. Number Three (played by Emmy Raver-Lampman) who can control minds by saying “I heard a rumor”. Klaus Hargreeves aka. Number Four (played by Robert Sheehan) who can see and communicate with the dead. Five Hargreeves (played by Aiden Gallagher) who can transport through time. Ben Hargreeves (played by Justin H. Min) who can summon horrors from his body. Ben is deceased and only Klaus can see him when season #1 begins. Finally, there’s Viktor Hargreeves (played by Elliot Page) who has been told his own life that he’s ordinary and has no powers. When season #1 begins, Five transports back to The Umbrella Academy from the future and lets everyone know that in a few days, an apocalpyse is going to happen which will kill everyone on Earth. The members of the Umbrella Academy initially don’t believe what Five is telling them. However, they do eventually believe Five and agree to help figure out what causes the apocalypse.

One thing that I enjoy about The Umbrella Academy is how realistic it is. Each of the members of the Academy struggle with their powers and the negative connotations that come with them. Klaus is a drug addict who numbs himself, so he doesn’t have to see the dead. I think of how traumatizing that must be for him as he finds solace in being high to escape what he’s capable of. Ben tries to bring out the good in Klaus which helps aid in Klaus’s character development. Luther sees himself as the leader, but doesn’t garner respect from the other Academy members. Allison uses her power on her daughter to try and prevent a toddler meltdown, but is discovered by her husband. Her husband is granted sole custody of her daughter. Five is trapped in a young body despite having the knowledge of the future. Finally, Viktor was told he wasn’t good enough and constantly feels overshadowed by the others. It shows that each of these characters are good people, but are contemplating how their powers have shaped their lives.

For ensemble shows like these, it’s crucial that these characters have chemistry with each other. I think that’s what makes the first season so fun to watch. Each member of the Academy has a unique partnership with each other. For example, Diego and Klaus butt heads a lot because of their differing personalities. By the end of season #1, Diego starts to admire Klaus and sticks up for Klaus during a group meeting when he’s being interrupted by someone else. Luther and Allison have this “will they” or “won’t they” romance to them because of the crush they had when they were kids. Viktor is easily seen as the outsider, yet Allison tries her best to be the sister that he needs. In only ten episodes, I feel invested in these characters and what might happen to them.

I watched half of season #1 in one day because I felt compelled to watch each episode back to back. I’m on season #2 now which transports the Umbrella Academy to the 1960’s before JFK’s assassination. I like the combination of the sci-fi elements of the show with the real world history unfolding in season #2.

The Umbrella Academy is one of my new favorite shows. It feels different to other superhero content out there and is entertaining throughout. The first three seasons of The Umbrella Academy can be streamed on Netflix.

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