It didn’t take long for season 2 of The Umbrella Academy to become the number one most watched show on Netflix (U.K). Neither is it surprising that it’s still there at the time of writing. So, let’s have a look at what went so well and what everyone’s talking about . . .
If ever there was a show that was an absolute master-class in ensuring that minority groups get a positive portrayal it’s this show. The comprehensive season 2 review from Sci-fi Pulse touched on it, but it deserves to be highlighted in its own right. It’s hard to imagine that The Black Lives Matter movement hadn’t begun yet, when you consider Alison’s arc. A particularly poignant and important element is her telling her husband, ray Chestnut, that even in 2019 the work is far from finished.
Vanya’s relationship also gave the LGBTQ community ever-necessary positive portrayal. We may see more characters who aren’t heterosexual on screen now, but make no mistake, they’re still the minority. What worked particularly well was her attraction to Sissy. We got to see Sissy come to realise that she was falling in love with the person Vanya is, not a gender. There was no out and out labelling. It’s unclear whether Vanya (or Sissy) are bisexual, pan-sexual or otherwise, and it required no explanation. It was a tender love story, and written in a relatable manner.
The motivations were at the heart of the aspects of representation, which meant they weren’t just there to appease or make people feel included. There was genuine human interest and this gave viewers a chance to genuinely empathise and not feel pity.
The Long Game
There was more revealed about Reginald Hargreaves’s origins, but not a great deal. We now know that he’s masquerading as Hargreaves, and that when he wants to be he can be extremely dangerous. In comparison to how much screen time the others were given, and how much more of their stories we told, the “father” of the group barely got any time at all. Just enough to keep things interesting. This is clearly a series trope, and promises to eventually real all in an explosive and dramatic way.
As the season ended the third was set up, and it looks like they’ll have to face a whole gang of powered persons. This might be where the reasons for their being born comes into play. That’s not yet been fully explained or even explored much. So far it’s simply been easy to accept they are powered. When we find out why, things are sure to get even more interesting and exciting.
For really great writing, many aspects have to gel. They do, here. The pace is electrifying, the use of flashbacks perfectly timed, and the development of the characters expertly timed. These are creations still being formed, and that shows. In the best way. There could very easily be a weak-link in the show, and in some ways Alison was exactly that, in season 1. But that was fixed. So well-written was she in season 2, that it becomes obvious that you probably weren’t meant to like her in season 1. Truly clever stuff.
Luther farting in the lift is a microcosm of great writing. behind that brawn is a scared boy. It was a brilliantly timed joke, but a multidimensional one, too. He’s still the leader, but a flawed and vulnerable one. There are countless examples of such strong writing, tight and meaningful. The moment where Klaus tells Diego that he looks like Antonio Banderas is another gem. Only Klaus would say that as what he then thought would be his final words.
The whole show is written in such a way that it looks effortless. It really isn’t though, is the truth. So much effort has gone into the script. The dialogue is great, too. Short and snappy, and when necessary a “power speech” is used. Like the one made to Lila in the final episode, to show her they truly accept her. Exceptional stuff.
Character Driven Show
Development is at the heart of the show. The evidence for that is abundant. The exposition of the story is driven on by the emotional and psychological states of the characters. It’s this which makes for truly compelling viewing and separates it from so many other shows about those with powers. The flaws are what make these characters relatable. Anyone who has ever gone through grief will know why Klaus drinks, and why it is so much effort not to.
The team aspect is crucial to the show. Even within the team there are separate dynamics between individual members. The rivalry between Diego and Luther, Vanya and Allison’s fragility. Klaus and Ben. What makes everything really work is that the team can’t achieve their aims apart, but they have to. The second season really played on that and gave the characters room to grow, whilst apart from one another. Ultimately, each character makes the other stronger, by being in proximity to one another. Whilst they do have some epic fall outs, when it comes down to it they all care for one another deeply. That’s the common ground amongst them.
Fun. That’s the initial to the gang being dumped in the sixties. There is plenty of it, but the story is also wonderful, because the setting becomes a sort of character of its own. The music is adapted to include some 60s greats, and the attitudes of the era are at the heart of everything. There were so many examples of prejudice that were examined, and the way that it was done was real and raw. Whilst things have undoubtedly become better, what this use of setting showed was that there is still a great distance to go before toxic bigotry is eradicated.
Making Vanya a potential Soviet threat was inspired. The same can be said for making this an apocalypse a very real possible outcome of the Cold War. And when you throw in the whole JFK thing, it just gets even better. The writing was well researched and efforts made to make sure that everyone looked the part, too. The costumes really were brilliant and the way that so much effort was put into the environment looking as it should is worthy of praise, too.
Shortly before Season 2 dropped we looked at what we might see in the new season. As it turned out, we saw some of the ideas floated, in one guise or another. Some we didn’t. Regardless, the second season turned out great and those of you who haven’t watched it yet are in for a treat. For us at Sci-fi Pulse it tops our chart of best current content. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.