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TV Reviews

TV Reviews: Umbrella Academy S1E1

The Umbrella Academy S1 E1

“We Only See Each Other At Weddings And Funerals”

Series Trailer via Netflix (YouTube)

I realize that the hot ticket Online is reviewing Season 2 of The Umbrella Academy, Gerard Way’s comic-turned-television-event. To do this, however, I would have to watch Season 1. Let’s see if I end up running out of steam.

Before I start this review, I want to be clear about a few things-

  1. I know what’s going to happen plot-wise. Like, not the details, just the major beats. As someone who struggles with certain types of thematic imagery in media, I tend to need trigger warnings for specific content. I knew enough about the series (through friends, art, etc.) that I knew that I might be upset, and I took the time to read about certain characters and their narrative journeys. When Season 1 of the show released, I wasn’t in a place where I could engage with it. Which is okay! I’m glad that I waited, and that I get to enjoy this now.
  2. I haven’t read the comic. I might someday. We’ll see.

With that out of the way, I can now share that this is the first episodic TV review I’ve ever written, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. So… let’s talk about some kids.

I guess The Umbrella Academy is about a bunch of kids who got the short end of the stick of life. Their eccentric dad wanted them to be superheroes, they aren’t, everyone has feelings about it. Also some of them seem like they have superpowers?

Technically, I love a lot of the work to create the feeling of this series. I did see that iconic dollhouse-esque “we’re all dancing along together” sequence, and it was nice. There’s an intensely personal feeling to so many scenes in a derelict and terrifying house. I want to be clear: I hate the lighting. I am not a fan of low light being a mood (it isn’t). The music is everything I expected and then some, including a beautifully twisted fight sequence to They Might Be Giants in this episode.

All seven (or six) of these kids didn’t get names, just numbers, and wow that’s a potent metaphor. I also cannot be bothered to learn their names, as I didn’t adopt them, so I’ve been referring to them by the most loving nicknames I can come up with. I’ll do my best to write a semi-coherent description for this first summary, but then all bets are off.

Number One- Luther, also known as Moon Boy. He was being sad on the moon in the beginning, and I hope he becomes a little less sad. He’s very large. I enjoy how large he is. I keep staring at his back, but also all he does is lurk and stick his foot in his mouth.

Number Two- Diego, also known as Knife Boy. I don’t like him. Everyone on my timeline is so thirsty for him, and I respect it, but he’s so… angsty. He fought Moon Boy at their dead Dad’s funeral. I want him to be happy, but his vigilante superhero bit isn’t my thing.

Number Three- Allison, also known as Gossip Girl (xoxo, love gossip girl). Real talk, she’s wonderful. How cool is that power?? Rumor-mill factory. Paparazzi queen. She seems like a complex character and I am excited to see what happens and oh boy does she have some weird relationship with Moon Boy and nope.

Number Four- Klaus, also known as Drug Boy. That’s all he does. Drugs, and talking to the dead. And honestly… good for him. If I could talk to the dead and I were rich I’d be doing the same thing with all of my free time.

Number Five- Number Five, also known as Time Boy. He threw himself back in time somewhere and I don’t think he had a great time (sorry, I had to). He is, absolutely, my favorite part of this show so far. He’s awful and also very old but trapped in a teenage body. I think he got into a mess or whatever in the future?

Number Six- ??? Ben ?? Ghost Boy, buddies with Drug Boy. That’s all I have.

Number Seven- Vanya, also known as Best Girl. Have I been in love with Ellen Page since I saw her in Hard Candy years and years ago? Absolutely. I guess she wrote a book about how much everyone sucks (they do). I’m glad she did.

I’m planning to keep watching the series, and I really have enjoyed it so far. There’s such a neat sense of music as a place and time, and as a feeling in these characters’ lives. The narrative seems a little haphazard at times, but we’re all here for the cute kids and fights, right? It’s giving me what I signed up for, and I can’t complain.

Rating (Episode 1): 3/4 Stars

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I Didn't Finish This

I Didn’t Finish This

Friday, July 10th

Welcome to I Didn’t Finish This, a semi-regular column where I talk about media that I didn’t finish. I have a very, very short attention span. In fact,

Mannequin (1987 film)

Why did I watch this?

I think I saw bits and pieces of this film as a kid, and I wanted to revisit it. Huge portions of the movie were shot in St. Louis, at this gorgeous (now abandoned) department store. I love weird Art Deco architecture.

Plus I’m bisexual and everyone in this is unbelievably beautiful.

Why didn’t I finish this?

I tried, twice, to finish it. It’s a cute movie! I am sure I will finish watching it someday. But the plot was so predictable that I felt like it wasn’t even worth sticking it out. There’s a lot going on, visually, and the music is a lot of fun.

I got a little too hung up on the fact that Kim Cattrall can apparently time skip at will, without hesitation, but firmly decided she wanted to be in the 1980’s. Girl, what are you doing.

You will enjoy this if

It’s a goofy, joyous film if you can get past the weird lack of constructs or rules in this science fiction universe. I think I made it through 80% of this, but the chases started to feel a little too… campy. Do I get to say something feels too campy? Well, I can and I will.

Dynasty (2017, Netflix series)

Why did I watch this?

It’s Dynasty. Do I need a reason to watch Dynasty? No?

Why didn’t I finish this?

I’m going to finish this. I can’t explain in words how much I want to finish this series. But there is only so much I can take of a literal soap opera before my brain starts to turn into irreconcilable mush.

Elizabeth Gillies is a dream here (yes, I watched Victorious) and the kind of energy I needed for 2020. What I was not expecting was a bizarre and long-form dissection of wealth and class privilege, that sometimes really bombs. Is that a Dynasty thing? This is my first American soap opera I don’t have anything else to compare it to.

You will enjoy this if

Dynasty. It’s Dynasty. Just go for it.

The Liar & His Lover (2017, via Netflix)

Why did I watch this?

Because I love, love, love Korean dramas. Absolutely love them, and this show is about music production and way too romantic in the best way.

Why didn’t I finish this?

I want to be really clear, in this moment: I basically finished this. I watched like 13 hours of this show in the span of 3-4 days. Couldn’t stop watching it. There is a world of mystery encapsulated in this weird, beautiful k-drama. Also I needed to escape from my Actual Life.

That being said, I couldn’t finish it. There’s only an episode and a half left or something. There was this weird, bizarre out of nowhere suicide subplot and now I’m completely checked out. I may force myself to finish it, but I have a feeling I’m not going to get the ending I want and that’s just life.

You will enjoy this if

Do you like amazing Korean pop music? Do you enjoy emotional pain?? What about very attractive guys? There you go.