To Binge or Not to Binge Episode 48: ‘The Umbrella Academy’

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To Binge or Not to Binge Episode 48: ‘The Umbrella Academy’

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Hannah Allred

Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Haley Oliphant

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A larger-than-life golden boy, a knife-throwing rule-breaker, a silver-tongued beauty, a smart-ass junkie, a 50-year-old pre-teen and an overwhelmingly ordinary violinist — sounds like a modern-day “Breakfast Club,” right? This dysfunctional group actually makes up an entirely different team of misfits: The Umbrella Academy. Based on the comic book by Gerard Way (yes, that Gerard Way), Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” follows a group of superhero siblings as they try to navigate their childhood trauma while attempting to protect humanity.

Due to the unusual circumstances surrounding their birth, six of the seven adopted Hargreeves children develop supernatural abilities. Sir Reginald Hargreeves, aware of these abilities, raises them to form “The Umbrella Academy,” a team of child superheroes. Subjected to the cruelly scientific fathering of Sir Reginald throughout their childhood, most of the siblings grow up with significant emotional baggage — especially the painfully average, seemingly powerless seventh child, Vanya. But when their long-lost time-jumping brother resurfaces with news of an apocalypse, can The Umbrella Academy put aside their demons and save the world?

Filled with a phenomenal cast and killer soundtrack, I was very excited to binge this show. I had heard nothing but great things about it, and even the Netflix preview sold me. I soon realized, however, that despite some extraordinary characters and scenes, the show did not deliver the epic story that I was expecting.

 

To Binge or Not to Binge?

Short answer? No. This show was an absolute chore to binge. As much as I want to like “The Umbrella Academy,” it can’t support the weight of everything it’s trying to juggle amidst a plot about the jumpy nature of the space-time continuum.

Time jumps aside, the pacing is choppy and sloppy, creating general plot confusion and dragging out moments that should only take 30 seconds. As a result, most character development feels stunted, forced or beaten over the audience’s head. While some characters feel fully fleshed out, others fall flat and remain two-dimensional, despite some abysmal mouth-to-mouth efforts to breathe some life into them. Even the best characters (Klaus and Number Five) have moments that flatline.

At the same time, all the twistiness of the plot twists is thrown out the window, leaving an almost completely predictable storyline with breadcrumbs that are resolved too quickly, too often and are shoved down viewer’s throats (Harold Jenkins, anyone?). The show chooses to hyperfocus on details and plotlines that seem to stay irrelevant while completely glossing over major developments. The whole story simultaneously feels rushed and prolonged and has very few moments of entertaining reprieve.

All in all, the show simply cannot decide what it wants to be. It replicates some of the most exhausted tropes in recent sci-fi and action movies  — the “Star Trek” movie reboots, “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Avengers: Infinity War” — while juggling a tone that ranges from “A Series of Unfortunate Events” to “Daredevil.” Yes, there are some moments (especially towards the end) where the show seems to have a direction that it wants to go, but ultimately, it’s too little way too late. The cast and soundtrack do a fantastic job with what they have, but it’s not enough to save “The Umbrella Academy” from its own plot-pocalypse.

 

Best Episode:

The most enjoyable episode is probably “Man on the Moon.” While that’s not saying much, I will say some of the most entertaining and authentic scenes stem from this episode.

 

Similar Shows:

“Marvel’s Runaways,” “Titans,” “The Magicians” and “Gotham.”

 

Trigger Warnings:

A good amount of swearing, a surprising amount of gore and plenty of alcohol and drugs throughout.

“The Umbrella Academy”
2 out of 5 stars
Available to stream on Netflix
10 episodes, approximately 1 hour each

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@oliphant_haley