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Netflix’s latest original series is based on a comic book about superheroes trying to stop the end of the world. There’s a fine line between campy and captivating for stories like this, but Umbrella Academy nails it by delivering the story with a side of addiction, isolation, and the all-too-real interactions between family members.
The comic is the brainchild of My Chemical Romance’s frontman, Gerard Way. The Netflix adaptation incorporates music as integral part of the story. It occurs to me that it’s likely how an artist like Way sees the world, with music informing and pushing the story like a character with its own lines.
A quirky father adopts seven children born with mutant abilities and raises them as warriors. He doesn’t bestow them with names, but refers to them by number. Their “mom” is a Stepford-esque robot and the family butler is a chimpanzee. They spend family meals listening to training tapes. Each kid has special abilities, except for one. Their adoptive father parades the kids in public as crime-solving superheroes, while pitting them against one another at home. It’s the ultimate in dysfunction.
What makes the story work is the interactions between siblings raised in such a monumentally strange upbringing. Even though they live in a strange mansion under the weirdest conditions and have a billionaire father, the kids are still a family. The bond the kids have is unbreakable even though they constantly annoy each other, which makes them relatable to anyone with siblings. The story is mostly set in the late 70s, with a lot of switching back and forth to when Numbers 1-7 were younger.
If social media is any judge of the success, Umbrella Academy is a certified hit. It’s spawned thousands of memes, tweets, and BuzzFeed quizzes already. TV Time users boosted it directly into the number one spot of “most binged” during the debut week.
Like all epic tales, the beauty of storytelling is in the character development, the costumes, and the points between beginning and end. It will be a year before the next season hits, so if you binge it too quickly, you’ll have a long wait ahead.
Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up."
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