(THEDAVINCI-CHARLOTTESVILLE) - The Umbrella Academy is a Netflix Original series based on a comic book of the same name. I began to watch the show after watching a character analysis on YouTube, as well as already knowing the general plot of season one. It took me about a week each to watch both seasons of the Umbrella Academy. Presently, two seasons have been released, with a third rumored to be coming soon.
When reading this review, be prepared for minor spoilers until otherwise stated. Skip to the end for a Too Long: Didn’t Read and an overall rating. With the formalities out of the way, onto the review.
This section of the review was written after completing season one but before I began season two. Overall, The Umbrella Academy is incredibly interesting and entertaining. The main idea of The Umbrella Academy is: What if seven kids were born at the same time, had superpowers, and were adopted into an abusive household? Years later, they learn of an apocalypse and have ten days to stop it. This show is very character-heavy, having six main characters in addition to a vast supporting cast, but it does a very good job with every character’s subplot and making them all memorable. Some characters are better than others, but I believe that leaves room for an arc across seasons (this mainly applies to the main cast, as they are the most important characters.) Interestingly, 5/6 of the main characters are made to be hostile, sometimes to the point of abuse, towards the 6th. So, you root for them because of the nobility of their goal to stop the apocalypse, and because they are the only people capable of stopping it, (not because you really like the characters). The show also does an excellent job of making you feel sympathetic for the villains, making them all real people and not just evil entities. There is one exception for a minor villain, and I think it works.
The action scenes are all excellently shot and each one has a fun song dubbed over it. The only criticism is that the characters have heavy plot armor and every gunshot misses by inches despite the shooters being “the best in the business.” There usually are one or two action scenes per episode, though some don’t have any. The action scenes are not the main focus of the show, however, and are mostly there to give the main plot some breathing space.
I usually dislike superhero media because I find action boring. The Umbrella Academy, however, is more than a fight between good and evil, focusing on preparing for doomsday rather than fighting it head-on. I think that is much more interesting.
This part of the review was written shortly after finishing season two. I will also assume you have seen the entirety of season one before reading this section. I don’t like season 2 of The Umbrella Academy nearly as much as season 1. The main thing I dislike about season 2 is the aesthetics. It goes for a post-ww2 setting instead of the modern gothic of season 1 (which I think worked better). I also dislike the new character’s costume design. Both Diego and Klaus got longer hair but Klaus also changed his entire wardrobe - it feels much more organized now. Klaus’ wardrobe in season one felt like he was just putting on whatever fits and was, preferably, dark. In season two he has a couple of outfits he rotates between, which seems less like his character.
I think the characters also lack interesting subplots in this new setting except for Alison. In my opinion, season one addressed side characters and character-specific subplots much better than this season. In season 1, every character - no matter their importance - had either a subplot or was integral to another characters’. This season’s subplot felt all over the place. For example, Diego’s story was all about stopping the Kennedy assassination, and, in the process, he is locked up for being crazy. It feels much less personal than his last subplot about his ex dying and hunting down the killers.
The biggest character decision they made that I dislike is giving Vanya amnesia.
We could have had a cool subplot of her dealing with the grief of losing her family and the guilt of what she did. But instead, we have a story about her finding her family and herself. Granted, her memory loss gave some cool moments but the key aspects of Vanya’s subplot did not need amnesia.
The main thing I like about season 2 is that they went into the season 1 characters that needed more, such as Ben or Sir Reginald Hargreaves. In season 1 Ben was pretty much ignored, only having a fraction of the lines that everyone else had. But in season 2 Ben is an actual character, graduating from a secondary character to the main character, and now all 7 Hargreaves children are important. Sir Reginald Hargreaves is also given a personality and characteristics. In season 1 he was featured in around 10 scenes and had a total of about 50 lines. However, in this season he interacts with our characters, which lets us see who Sir Reginald Hargreaves really is.
Season 1 rating: 9/10
Season 2 rating: 6/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Season 1 is now my favorite piece of superhero media. Season 2 is a disappointing sequel to a great show. I would still recommend the show but I can see why some people would dislike it. If you watch superhero shows and movies for action then you might find this show boring. But if you are looking for something to binge through with an interesting story and characters then you should watch The Umbrella Academy.