Let us set the scene – children born with super powers are taken under the wing of an eccentric bald British man, they all get separated, then they reunite to take on the world’s issues and their father’s mysterious death. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
But, this isn’t the much loved X-Men we’re talking about. This is Netflix’s Umbrella Academy, a grotty tale of superheroes based upon the graphic novels by the king of grot, Gerard Way – yes, as in the band My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way. The first series was released in 2019, when Netflix was apparently infested with some superhero loving producers who put out, and then promptly axed, anything and everything to do with powers and the superhuman. But this one has stuck around long enough for us to get a second season.
As is typical of most Netflix originals, the show is stylised to within an inch of its life, to the point where Wes Anderson likely gets a shiver down his spine every time someone clicks play. The question this leads us to is, is Umbrella Academy all style and no substance? Well, if its superpower related substance you’re after, there’s a lot of that. The show revolves around seven kids, with seven powers, whose names are one, two, three, four…you get the gist.
The powers they’ve been blessed (or cursed) with are slightly more inventive than the traditional flying, invisibility or mega strength type. One can change reality by lying, one can communicate with the dead, and one has monsters living inside him – don’t we all? But the actual storyline is a bit of a mess. In truth, it’s a load of rubbish, but it is quite fun nevertheless.
Seeing as this is the second season, we’ve got a couple of rounds of reviews to go at. When the show was initially released, nonsense did seem to be the general take. Lucy Mangan in The Guardian said: “It is purest hokum…that promises never to be developed.” She doesn’t sound like she’s going to watch the new season, does she? But just wait. Mangan goes on to say, “I’m in. I’m inner than in. I could not be more in.” She’s in, then?
The Telegraph’s Catherine Gee was equally mixed in her opinion of the show. She said there’s enough there to keep fans of the comic happy, but that “it would be nice to see some more genuinely fresh ideas – without the over-reliance on tried, tested and tired tropes from years past.” Well, now season two is out we can see if her wish came true! Stuart Jeffries in The Guardian delivers the bad news, saying the new season is “all fatuous fisticuffs and inscrutable nonsense.”
If you find yourself craving some enjoyable yet silly TV, then this could just be your bag.
First shown February 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.