A family can be formed in many ways including seven adopted children, a mysteriously cryptic father, a robot mother and a sentient ape house assistant, according to Netflix’s new show “The Umbrella Academy.”
The show focuses on the Hargreeves family, whose seven children were all born at the same time on the same day by mothers who were not pregnant when the day began. Seven of these children are adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, who trains them throughout childhood to become a team of superheroes.
At least six of the children are superheroes with powers they learn to master as children. The seventh child, Vanya, appears to have no powers and the reason behind her adoption into the family appears a mystery. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t go any further.
The non-linear timeline of the show translates very well to the screen, as the narrative bounces between the children’s past, and their lives as thirty-somethings in the present.
There are several storylines happening at once- the children are estranged and haven’t been home in years, their missing brother (Number Five) suddenly reappeared to tell them the world is ending in eight days, he is being pursued by shady time assassins, and Vanya is struggling with her identity and position as the black sheep of the family. These plotlines are only the main few; there are many more narratives to be found within the show.
What carries the show is the dynamic between the seven siblings. Though estranged at first, dire circumstances bring them back together and force them to have some sibling bonding time—whether they want it or not. None of the main characters are static. Each one experiences some kind of change or growth by the time the first season ends, ensuring a show that is never boring to watch.
The cast gave amazing performances, but the best one has to go to Aidan Gallagher, who plays Number Five. The cocky 13-year-old time-and-space traveler returns to his family after being stuck in an apocalyptic wasteland for over forty years. When he returns, he is thrown back into his 13-year-old body, and is hell-bent on stopping the apocalypse. Gallagher perfectly captures the old man stuck in a 13-year-old body. His sarcasm, wit, and resolve make him one of the most interesting characters to watch. The audience can genuinely never guess what he will do or say next.
The same can be said for the entire show. Despite the abundant superhero content in the entertainment industry right now, ‘The Umbrella Academy” provides a refreshing break from the typical and sometimes repetitive superhero narrative. None of the Hargreeves kids are what an audience would expect to see from superheroes.
This quality also makes the Hargreeves more relatable. Though they often face extraordinary circumstances and wrestle with super powers, their main problems often deal with identity crises, sibling rivalry, parental issues and addictions—that normal, everyday people also struggle with.
Audiences will be attracted to the relationships between the characters and the unpredictable, and sometimes wacky, nature of the show. There are moments to laugh at, and equally as many moments to be shocked at.
“The Umbrella Academy” is worth a watch and will leave the viewer with much tothink about once the season finale is over.