Review: The Umbrella Academy
X-men, but goth.
And kinda boring.
That’s it, that’s the show.
And that should really be the end of the review.
But I’m not that lazy, so…
Sigh. Let’s get this over with.
On October 1 st , 1989, 43 women gave birth. They hadn’t been pregnant when the day
began. Seven of them were adopted by an eccentric billionaire. They lived in a mansion and
secretly fought crimes as The Umbrella Academy. They grew up, grew apart and went their
And then their billionaire dad dies, one of them comes back from the future, and tells them
they have to stop the end of the world.
Now, how do you make a premise THAT awesome boring?
Simple, make it slow-paced as hell, try too hard to be edgy, and write characters that don’t
sound like real people.
I admit, when I saw the trailers for Umbrella Academy, I was giddy with excitement. I had
heard good reviews regarding its source material, and I’m a fiend for anything remotely
relating to superheroes. You couldn’t have asked for a more eager audience member. I was
aboard the hype train before I even saw a minute of the show.
And then I watched it.
Okay, before I get to bashing this snoozefest, I might as well highlight the things it does well.
In fairness to the show, it does start off very promisingly. It’s moodily shot and darkly funny,
thanks in no small part to Robert Sheehan’s Klaus, who plays a loud, brash ne’er-do-well
with a penchant for pithy insults. You know, kind of like Nathan from Misfits. Okay, very
much like Nathan from Misfits. Okay, fine, exactly like Nathan from Misfits. He’s American
Nathan from Misfits and I don’t care because he’s great and I missed him and would watch
him in anything. Also, there’s a talking monkey, and I like talking monkeys in media. That
alone would have won me over. But then the show gets into gear. Very, very slowly. Nothing
happens quickly in the world of Umbrella Academy. Conversations that should be brisk take
an age to conclude. Scenes that should have been cut down go on for far too long. Nothing
in this show is as cool or inventive as it thinks it is.
Did I mention it’s basically gothic X-men?
Because, yeah, it’s gothic X-men.
Look, if I wanted to watch plodding family melodrama, I’d watch Downton Abbey or
something. This is supposed to be a superhero show. I came to watch superheroes. I wanted
action. I wanted lasers. I wanted explosions. I wanted a show that didn’t (literally) bore me
to sleep. I didn’t find that here. Instead I found a show that wastes its admittedly talented
cast, stretches out its source material to fit the required ten episodes, pretends its paper
thin plot is somehow revolutionary, and introduces asinine plot points only to make them
completely irrelevant by the next episode.
So yeah, if you’re looking an exciting ensemble superhero show to watch, look elsewhere. Go watch Misfits or something, it’s still on 4OD.
I’ve missed you, Nathan.
Written by John Allan for The Nerd Council