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The Umbrella Academy

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Umbrella Academy TV Poster Image
Great actors in quirky, dark, violent comic adaptation.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 33 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Positive messages are hard to find in a nihilistic show, though the characters are attempting to save humanity, which is a good thing. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

It's tough to distinguish good characters from bad; both are very violent. So-called superheroes injure, even kill other characters (who are clearly villains, or faceless minions) in brutally violent ways, are praised for doing so. Sibling characters can be supportive of each other and loving, though they often fight. 

Violence

Characters are killed in operatic violent sequences: flung out of high windows, bloodily torn apart by a man who morphs into a multi-armed creature, stabbed, shot, eyes torn out. Expect blood and gore and piles of bodies, as well as "action" sequences with impact minimized by happy pop music that plays over the top. 

Sex

One character is a love interest for another adoptive sibling. 

Language

Language includes "s--t," "a--hole," "bastard," as well as insults: "Loser!" "You're crazy!" 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character is depicted as a drug addict; we see him scoring drugs in an alley, taking handfuls of pills, drinking tumblers of whisky. Other characters criticize his habits. Toll it's taken on his life is clearly shown. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Umbrella Academy is a series about a group of adopted siblings with superpowers who team up to try to prevent a fiery future apocalypse. Parents' main concern will likely be the show's violence: It's gory, bloody, and often set to music, so that it reads as more cheerful than it should. Characters, usually depicted as villains, bad guys, or faceless henchpeople, are dispatched bloodily by the so-called heroes. They're shot, stabbed, and torn apart, with spurting blood and gore -- in piles of dead bodies. Sex and romance are downplayed in favor of violence, but one adopted sibling does have romantic feelings for another. One character is a drug addict and an alcoholic, viewers see him gulping down unnamed pills, scoring drugs in an alley, drinking enormous drinks (and more) while he acts sloppy and impaired. Language includes "s--t," "a--hole," and "bastard."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMeredith95 February 16, 2019

Very Odd and Interesting, yet Not so Family Friendly

I honestly don't know what to make of this show. It was extremely creative and quirky. I honestly hate super hero films/tv, but this was just different eno... Continue reading
Adult Written bysolenoid February 15, 2019

amazing as heck

Not horridly violent, small bit of language but no f-bombs or any such thing, yes, drugs, but the sibling (Klaus) is sober, or at least trying to be.
Kid, 12 years old February 15, 2019

Great Show I recommend!

Theres a lot of problems though in the first episode a guy gets stabbed in the eye with a knife which may be disturbing to some viewers but theres only very mil... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNetflix Lover February 17, 2019

Umbrella Academy Review

It is a very fun and quirky show. I binged it one day. This show would be scary to younger viewers but my younger 12 year old sister loved it.The violence isn... Continue reading

What's the story?

Decades before THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY opens, 43 infants were inexplicably born to women all over the world who weren't pregnant the day before. Eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Meany) figures these children must have some kind of special powers. And so he sets out to adopt as many of them as he can. His final tally: seven, including Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), who can make things come true merely by saying things out loud, Klaus (Robert Sheehan), who can speak to the dead, Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), who can jump through time, and Vanya (Ellen Page), who is, as Hargreeves says, "nothing special." Years after they were a hot crime-fighting family, the super-siblings are now estranged. But when Hargreeves dies mysteriously -- and when a character missing for over a decade reappears, warning that eight days from now, a fiery apocalypse destroys all of humanity -- the gang teams up again for a major mission. 

Is it any good?

Inventive visuals and quirky actors clearly instructed to let their freak flags fly breathe life into the now hackneyed setup of a school for superheroes. Hey, didn't we do that already? X-Men? Sky High? But this show takes it to the limit, which helps the blah setting. The show's hyperkinetic action sequences set to cheerful pop aren't as effective as they could be -- they'll remind you of Kick-Ass, for one thing, and they're over the top logically speaking: Does a bank robber really deserve to be flung out of a third-story window to certain death? Um, maybe the super-sibs could just call the police? But other moments are sheer joy, like a scene in which the siblings dance to "I Think We're Alone Now" in separate rooms of the house before the camera pulls back as if they were dancing in a dollhouse, each in his or her own box. 

Two of Umbrella Academy's actors are also reliable fun whenever they show up: Robert Sheehan, all elfin-fey jittery energy as the junkie bad sheep of the family, and Aidan Gallagher, tasked with playing a character with the consciousness of a 58-year-old and the body of a 13-year-old. Grousing his way believably and magnetically through scenes in which he can't believe the stupidity of everyone around him, Gallagher is a kick -- and incidentally has a really cool superpower. Unfortunately, the sublimely gifted Page mopes around for a while, not given as much to do until her "I'm so ordinary!" storyline shifts in exactly the way you think it will. It's always great to see an underdog get hers, but frustrating to watch Page's sparkly light dimmed while we wait. Nonetheless, if the mere idea of a superhero squad doesn't make you roll your eyes at this point, this interesting show might keep your hero hunger satiated until the next comic book movie comes out. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the level of violence in The Umbrella Academy. Is it more or less violent than you expected? More or less violent than other shows or movies about superheroes? How can you tell the difference between a superhero and a supervillain? Is the violence in this show enjoyable? What impact does media violence have on kids?

  • How well do you think comic books translate to feature films or TV shows? Which comics-based productions have made the best adaptations? Is it important to your enjoyment of the show to have read the comic before watching? 

  • What makes stories about humans with extraordinary powers especially appealing? Why would people want to have superpowers, particularly at this moment in time? If you could have a superpower, what would it be? 

TV details

For kids who love superheroes

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