he Umbrella Academy! A 10 part television show based off the award-winning comic book series written by My Chemical Romance’s lead singer Gerard Way debuted this past week on Netflix. The show has drawn obvious comparisons to Marvel’s X-Men and NBC’s This Is Us, but we’re going to paint it with a different brush. Imagine if Tim Burton got high and watched Real World for the first time and then immediately thought to bring The Addams Family back to tv and for some reason, gave them all super powers. This is essentially what you’d get. A healthy mix of crime-fighting action, quasi-insestual romance, dark comedy and some good old-fashioned time traveling hi-jinks make this show more dynamic than your average superhero series. It’s not perfect, but it’s got a little something for everyone. We thoroughly enjoyed the binge and are ready to break down the animated beings (no offense Dolores). #couplegoals
10. Cha Cha & Hazel
This tag team of assassins hired by The Commision to stop Number 5 from preventing the apocalypse get a ton of screen time in this adaptation. Maybe a little too much. Cha Cha is a male in the comics and the gender swapped role is brought to life by award-winning R&B queen: Mary J. Blige, while Mindhunter’s breakout star Cameron Britton takes on the psycho killer Hazel. We found their bizarre love triangle to be too much of a departure from the main storyline and didn’t seem to contribute anything substantial to the narrative. Basically, we didn’t buy the chemistry. We don’t hate hate their portrayal. We just would’ve scaled them back to make room for other more captivating characters.
9. Ben (No. 6)
Justin H. Min plays the boy possessed by monsters. Unfortunately, Ben was sidelined for most of this season. Shadowing Klaus and releasing The Horror every now and then. A statue in his likeness stands at the front of the mansion. It serves as a commemoration to his death, as well as a reminder that even though these heroes are super, they are still mortal. His reduction only leaves us with more questions like, how and why did he die in the first place? Hopefully season two can provide clarity.
8. Sir Reginald Hargreeves
The adoptive father of the family’s shadow looms heavily over the series. The Monocle, played by Colm Feore, is featured solely through flashbacks and one crucial divination. His intentions are difficult to pinpoint throughout the season. Depending on your perspective, he walks the line between maniacally abusive father and misunderstood philanthropic protector of humanity. Robot nanny/mom Grace would suggest that he means well, but that’s a difficult sell when you’re locked inside a soundproof jail cell. I’m sure all of us with similar daddy issues can relate.
7. Diego (No. 2)
I’m not exactly sure how accurate knife throwing became a trendy superpower, but I ain’t down with it. It’s not a superpower. It’s a trained skill, like ice-skating or archery. Yes, I’m looking at you Hawkeye. If he could throw a knife from New York that traveled across the world and hit a bullseye in China, then maybe I would consider that superpower-esque. This guy hits targets at a close range and I couldn’t be less impressed. How is he number two? How is the kid that can time travel not number two? Why is he The Kraken and not the kid with a giant squid living inside of him? Maybe he’s number two because his powers are shit! That being said, it was a great dramatic portrayal by newcomer Dave Castaneda (golf clap).
6. Allison (No. 3)
Starting rumors always has the potential for devastation, but this takes it to another level. Emmy Raver-Lampman’s plays Allison, a celebrity with persuasive abilities and her role as the connective tissue between Vanya and the rest of family is critical (as if she doesn’t already have enough to deal with). She’s balancing her career as a movie star, budding relationship with Luther, failed marriage and child rearing responsibilities and, oh yeah, she has to save the mother loving world from god knows who and while we’re at it, let’s slit her throat too. She goes through a lot in season 3 and it’s miraculous she even makes it out alive. Here’s to hoping they take it easy on her in season two.
5. Luther (No. 1)
Spaceboy is the leader of the group with superhuman strength and an unbelievably tireless work ethic. His stoic managerial style is reminiscent of Leonardo from the early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles years. His commitment to duty and maintaining the family bond seem exhausting, which makes the few moments he takes to let loose that much more rewarding. The multi-faceted Tom Hooper shows off his talents on the battlefield as well as the dance floor. All while rocking a big gross gorilla bodysuit. He would’ve been higher on the list if he wasn’t such a bad crier. Yeah. No. I’m serious. Go back and watch. Not a good crier.
4. Vanya (No. 7)
No disrespect to the academy-award nominated Ellen Page. She played Vanya with both incredible strength and fragility. The suspense in her arc is the heartbeat (no pun intended) of the main plot. She’s the key to preventing the apocalypse and it’s such an emotional predicament to both root for her ascension to relevance and, at the same time rail against her for succumbing to her dark side. We look forward to where her journey takes her in season two and she probably should be higher on the list if it weren’t for one unforgivable act. She killed Pogo. I’m just…I’m sorry. Some things are just irredeemable.
My favorite character from season one is the talking chimpanzee uncle you wish you had. At least I wish I had. Pogo, voiced by Adam Godley and, personally, best known as Elliot from Breaking Bad, is Reginald’s closest assistant. We don’t get much back story on him or how he came to be and he barely leaves the mansion. But, every time he’s on screen it’s magical. He’s always dropping little vaguely threatening nuggets of wisdom that could either unlock the secrets of humanity or seal your doom. His death at the hands of Vanya was crushingly tragic and we don’t know if we’ll ever recover. Luckily, the season finale teased the idea of the gang traveling back in time. So, let’s keep our fingers crossed in hopes of reuniting with young Pogo once again.
2. Number Five (No. 5)
Aidan Gallagher is really, really good at being a little kid that plays a 58 yr-old man in the body of a little kid. Seriously, he was an awesome Number Five and genuinely sold the persona of a grumpy senior citizen. He really took command of every scene he was in and showed the confidence of an actor thrice his age. Now that I think about it, perhaps he really is a 58-yr old in a 13 yr-olds body. Maybe he’s got Andy Milonakis disease. It wouldn’t surprise us. But I digress, Number 5 had the most fun powers of the group. BAMF-ing around like Nightcrawler and travelling time like a true boss. Number five would’ve been number one if it weren’t for another closely-related number.
1. Klaus (No. 4)
Robert Sheehan really owned season one in his role as the eccentric drug-addict/ghost whisperer. Just a wonderful ball of entertainment in every frame he was in. Amongst the diverse, award-winning ensemble of talented actors, The Seance truly stood out. Whether he’s crawling across a war zone imagined dance floor searching for pills, or travelling across existential planes to get a shave from his dead dad, Kraus provided the most pure enjoyment per second out of the entire cast. His role isn’t a walk in the park either. It’s the most physically demanding of all, as it requires him to act high while both getting beat up and beating himself up. Mentally, he has to border on the line of psychotic and emotionally, he has to channel a victim of heartbreak and PTSD. He balances each masterfully and really comes through at the end when it matters. We’re most looking forward to the next stage of his evolution in season two.
So what do you think? Did Klaus really have the best season of them all? Did Cha Cha & Hazel ever spark joy? Is Pogo the G.O.A.T.? That’s a fact actually. Pogo is the best. Pogo definitely sparks joy. ♦