The Umbrella Academy is a Complicated Family Drama Disguised as a Superhero Show

We are mere hours away from the release of Netflix original series The Umbrella Academy, and while we may have reached peak superhero in TV and film, this series is worth checking out.

You may argue that the world already has (insert superhero ensemble here), but The Umbrella Academy definitely has a very unique vibe. It begins when 43 infants are born to random women who weren’t pregnant when the day began. In comes Sir Reginald Hargreeves, an eccentric billionaire, who buys/adopts seven of the children. He creates the Umbrella Academy to prepare these kids for a daunting task: saving the world. The superhero team disbands, but the death of their father that brings the surviving siblings back together.

Umbrella Academy Family

When it comes right down to it, it’s a tale of a complicated, messy, dysfunctional family.

The siblings don’t always agree, but they’re united by the shared experience of being raised by a father with questionable parenting techniques. He was abusive, secretive and manipulative. Each member of the Umbrella Academy — Luther (Tom Hopper), Diego (David Castaneda), Alison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus (Robert Sheehan), Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) and Vanya (Ellen Page) — has been affected in different ways. Some cope through repression or addiction. On top of it all, they’re facing the apocalypse. They were trained for this, but they have a lot of baggage to overcome in order to face the challenge.

I was a bit apprehensive with some of the casting, since the superhero genre is familiar territory for Page and Sheehan. Watching it alleviated any of my concerns, as Vanya (Page) and Klaus (Sheehan) are worlds apart from their roles in X-Men and Misfits. In fact, their character arcs are two of my favourites this season.

Umbrella Academy Cha-Cha and Hazel

Then there is the time travelling hitman and hitwoman, Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige). While one is constantly on mission, the other stops to appreciate the simple beauty that exists in the world. It’s a fascinating dynamic with some surprises along the way.

The Umbrella Academy is punctuated by a phenomenal soundtrack courtesy of Executive Producer Steve Blackman and Music Supervisor Maggie Phillips. It’s an absolute delight for this music lover. Upbeat anthems — like Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” — are brilliantly used to punctuate dramatic fight sequences. The score by Jeff Russo is also impressive.

Still wondering if you should spend some time with The Umbrella Academy?

Executive Producer Jeff King summed it up best when I spoke to him at the premiere event in Toronto. “If you never found a superhero show that you liked before, or you’ve never watched a superhero show, try this one. Ultimately, it’s really a dysfunctional family drama. You’ll see somebody in there who feels or looks like you do. That’s really the appeal of the show.”

Images Courtesy of Netflix

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