The Umbrella Academy season 1, episode 1 review: We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals


The Umbrella Academy is like X-Men if the X-Men killed criminals and Professor X was hated by (almost) all of them.

Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy takes the frequently done story of superheroes raised in a school-like structure and learning to hone their powers for good and twists it until every last cliché is squeezed out of it.

For one thing, the students are actually the adopted children of a Sir Reginald Hargreeves. After mysteriously being born via immaculate conception, these children (except for one, as far as we know) developed their own special abilities. Hargreeves adopted these children so he could raise them to become his own personal superhero squad, which he dubbed The Umbrella Academy.

The Umbrella Academy consisted of seven children, all of whom he coldly numbered instead of named. But then one of these children died in the line of duty, and another went missing, devastating the other five enough to break up the heroic band and go their separate ways. That is until Hargreeves dies under possibly nefarious circumstances and the five are brought back together, thus giving us the jumpstart for their journey forward.

The future may look bleak, but not the show

The premiere does a great job of setting up the overarching storyline while not giving away too much about what will happen, but giving you enough of a tease to keep the audience compelled to come back for more.

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The pacing is also well done in giving you all of the action you would expect to see in a show based on a comic book and still letting the episode slow down in parts so the audience can stew in the atmosphere for a bit.

A familiar feel

Speaking of the atmosphere, it is quite reminiscent of Netflix’s other original series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. They have that same colorful scenery that engulfs the audience and gives them that sense of being in a fantastical world that you would be both in wonderment of and (in this show) horrified by.

The characters are also similarly uniquely quirky, characters that behave in ways you wouldn’t expect or seem to be one way and turn out to be another. And each one has a defining stand-out trait, either physical or personality-wise, that make it easy to keep up with them and remember who they are.

United they stand but divided they fall

But what is most enticing about the premiere is the way in which it introduces each character and their lives, struggles, and relationships (or lack of) with each other. The focus remains on the humanity of the characters and less on their superpowers, a welcome tactic used to help the audience attach to the characters.

The most prominent theme laid out throughout the premiere is that these are characters who are not only broken personally but as a group. These adults grew up together as siblings, brothers and sisters-in-arms, but have since fallen apart, and the key to fixing themselves and saving the world seems to be coming back together, something they all seem very reluctant to do but leave the audience hoping that they will.

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As Hargreeves told the group as children, “The ties that bind you together make you stronger than you are alone,” the strength of this premiere is not necessarily the characters, the story, and the atmosphere by themselves, but how these elements are blended together in such a way that they form one captivating superhero drama.

The Umbrella Academy is streaming now on Netflix.