The Umbrella Academy
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On October 1, 1989, 43 women around the world mysteriously gave birth at the same time, despite not being previously pregnant. Seven of these children, each gifted with a unique ability, wind up in the custody of reclusive billionaire Reginald Hargreeves, who raises them to fight crime as members of The Umbrella Academy. But they eventually grow apart and become resentful of their adoptive father, only coming back together again after his death and to avert a potential apocalyptic event.
This show has a huge cast, many of whom you’ll recognize. The main members of the Umbrella Academy include Tom Hopper (as Luthor/Number One), David Castañeda (as Diego/Number Two), Emmy Raver-Lampman (as Allison/Number Three), Robert Sheehan (as Klaus/Number Four), Aidan Gallagher (as Number Five), Justin Min (as Ben/Number Six, plus a new version of Ben in Season 3), and Elliot Page (as Number Seven, who becomes Victor in Season 3).
Based on the comic series by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance) and Gabriel Bá, The Umbrella Academy first premiered in 2019 and quickly became one of the most streamed shows on Netflix at the time. The second season was even more popular. Now that Season 3 has dropped you have 30 full episodes of this weird and wonderful series to enjoy. You don’t have to be familiar with the comics to get into it, but that knowledge does put some of the more wackier twists into context. And there’s a lot of wackiness going on here.
Besides the seven Hargreeves siblings with individual superpowers there’s an android mother figure, a talking chimpanzee mentor, clingy ghosts, and time-traveling assassins working for a secret organization led by a super-intelligent goldfish with a robotic body, just to name a few things that set this show apart. And just when you think you have a handle on the world, it takes a wild turn and jumbles everything up all over again.
What holds the series together is the way the writers treat the Umbrella Academy as members of a dysfunctional family. Although seemingly unrelated and very different by nature, the seven of them grew up together as siblings under unconventional circumstances. Like any other family they’ve formed bonds, resentments, and strong opinions about each other over the years, but they share a history—not to mention special abilities—that no one else outside of the family could ever understand. No matter how annoying they find their siblings, they will always have each other’s backs. You don’t have to be in a family of superheroes to relate to that.
Each season has multiple ongoing plot lines, and the show tends to split up the siblings and mix them up in new and different ways as the story goes. But The Umbrella Academy is at its best when they are all together, working as a team, even a begrudging one. The big set pieces are impressive, with an epic and striking production design that looks unlike anything else you’ll find on TV right now. And it doesn’t stop with the eyes, either. The score by Jeff Russo and eclectic soundtrack full of nostalgic vibes will keep your ears happy as well. Like the characters, when these elements come together they are far more than the sum of their parts.
There’s way too much going on in this show to recap three seasons’ worth of stories in a few short paragraphs, but if you like twisty, supernatural shows with strong characterization, stylish visuals, and a dark sense of humor, you’re sure to love The Umbrella Academy.
The Umbrella Academy is a wildly imaginative take on the superhero genre, but it works mainly because of the strong characters and dysfunctional family at its core.
This would be a good summer binge with someone you care about. Maybe family members sharing a laid-back evening on vacation.
Although the series is rated TV-14, be aware that there’s some mature themes, harsh language, and graphic violence in it. The violence especially is often played for laughs, but even so may be too strong for younger or more sensitive teens.