Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events Review

Ashtyn Gudgel '18, A&E Editor

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“Look away, look away, look away, look away.

This show will wreck your courage, your whole life and your day”

The theme song for the recently released Netflix series, Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events has been spinning through my head the past few days. It would make sense though, for I spent a majority of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend watching the first season, released on January 13th.

Netflix streaming service has been quite the blessing in my life. As a person who has immersed herself in pop culture, I am able to catch up on quite a few TV shows that I may have missed when they originally aired (for example, two of my personal favorites, Sherlock and Once Upon a Time, I originally viewed on Netflix for their first few seasons).

However I haven’t yet viewed a so-called “Netflix Original” in whole. I am familiar with a streamed series; I have watched a few episodes of the delightfully funny Netflix Original The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and watched the Netflix rebooted fourth season of one of my favorite comedies Arrested Development. But knowing that there was going to be an original television series created based on one of my favorite book series, starring one of my favorite actors, I knew that this is one that must be viewed, all the way through, as soon as possible.

The show is based on a children’s book series, similarly titled A Series of Unfortunate Events. Written by Lemony Snicket (a pen name by American author Daniel Handler), it tells the story of three highly intelligent children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who tragically lose their parents in a fire. They are sent to live with an extremely distant relative who may or may not be actually related to them, the dark and brooding yet highly unintelligent Count Olaf. After escaping his clutches in the first book, the orphans move from guardian to guardian, and constantly run into Olaf again, a so-called “master of disguise”.

The first season of the show, which is eight episodes, spans the events of the first four books, two episodes dedicated to each book. Starring Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, I was a bit skeptical at first. Though I love Harris (in my opinion, he is one of the greatest entertainers of our generation), I didn’t know if he would be able to camouflage himself into not just the dark Count Olaf, or his various alter egos that he portrays throughout the series. But the second Harris made his entrance into the show, I was automatically mesmerized. The way he portrayed each and every character was delightful, and without blinking an eye could swiftly transition into another character was pure magic.

Though I loved him as Count Olaf, my favorite of his disguises was Shirley, the character he portrayed in episodes seven and eight, “The Miserable Mill Part 1” and “The Miserable Mill Part 2”. Playing a character of the opposite gender is very challenging, and Harris can effortlessly pull off playing the female receptionist with a type of sass that made me laugh every single time he appeared on screen.

The child actors were another high point of the series. Violet and Klaus, played by newcomers Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes, were fantastic. Playing a serious child of intelligent nature can be hard, but they managed to show both traits very clearly without exaggeration. But it seems my favorite part of this series is the role of the narrator, Lemony Snicket, played by character actor Patrick Warburton. The small quips he makes throughout the series were so hilarious, saying his lines as if he was used to saying some of the most outrageous things on a daily basis. The use of his character as a person who interjects during some of the most stressful moments of the show with a grammar lesson or a sarcastic remark about one of the characters was pure comedy genius.

The use of guest stars was also a high point. Joan Cusack, Aasif Mandvi, Alfre Woodard, Cobie Smulders, Will Arnett, and Catherine O’Hara were all delightful in their respective roles, and I truly wish that they were in the series more.

Compared to the book series, I absolutely loved it. Not only was it a faithful adaptation that set the tone of the books beautifully, but had it’s own originality to it, adding twists that even a fan of the books wouldn’t expect, including one involving the characters portrayed by Cobie Smulders and Will Arnett which will tug at your heartstrings a bit.

Overall, this was a fantastic series. If the next few seasons (it is unknown when they will be released) continue in a similar fashion as the first, this is bound to be a show worth remembering.

Grade (on and F to A+ scale): A


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Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events Review