Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy season 2 is a fantastic addition to the series that truly trumps the first season. This season of the show based on Gerard Way’s brilliant comics of the same name focuses on the main characters, stranded in time throughout the ’60s, teaming up to try and stop the end of the world. Again.
While the overarching idea of the plot draws similarities to season 1, the latest season is something entirely different and new. The characters have grown in the time away, the humor in the show is more refined, and the dynamics between characters are utilized in a far different and far better way.
The core change that has been made between seasons is the way in which the characters work as a collective. In the first season, they have spent so long apart, they don’t really know each other anymore and only begin to come together towards the latter episodes. Season 2, however, really hones in on that family dynamic and makes far better use of it. The Umbrella Academy is at its absolute best when it comes to family interactions and bouncing off one another, and there is plenty of that in these new episodes.
The actors all absolutely bring it, in such a large ensemble cast you would expect there to be a weak link but there really isn’t. Robert Sheehan in particular steals the show, as he so often does, but no actor brings anything less than their A-game. This is not just in the over the top hilarious way he is known for, but in the smaller moments, the emotional beats that you would maybe not expect such a comedic actor to hit. Sheehan hits every single one and has some of the most heart-wrenching moments of the show.
It would be amiss to discuss season 2 and not address the aspect that makes it stand out from every other piece of superhero media. This show doesn’t just slip in a social issue here or there to be trendy and brag about it all press tour. This is not Onward-style representation where a female side character offhandedly mentions their wife and we call that “diversity”.
This show embraces the diversity of their weird little family and works to provide true representation. It isn’t that the issues they address are forced, they are impossible to ignore. If you stick a strong principled black woman like Allison in the ’60s, she is going to become involved with the civil rights movement and have to deal with all the racism surrounding that. If you stick overtly queer people in the ’60s, that is going to be an issue that needs to be dealt with.
I imagine a lot of people on twitter are going to scream about Netflix “shoving these issues down our throats” and to “keep politics out of their shows!” But you have to remember that to ignore these issues totally would be abhorrent, and would make for a far less interesting series than the one we have gotten. You can’t place a black woman in the ’60s and not address this, and you shouldn’t have a show with queer characters and not address the issues this would cause in this time period. The show addresses all of this head-on and each of these storylines are beautifully written and fit perfectly.
There is something about truly exceptional media that has always stuck with me. The bare mark of a brilliant film or show is to pay attention to what they do with the little details. Great filmmakers don’t waste a frame, they are never lazy with a single second of what they make. This concept is present in The Umbrella Academy‘s second season, with so much creativity sometimes packed into minute details of the show. There are constant beautiful transitions from scene to scene – the creative ways they introduce the title card each episode is a real special highlight. It’s so easy to be lazy and just hard cut to a title card like 90% of shows do. The little extra effort taken shows the extreme care with which this show was created.
The characters are a massive improvement on season 1, the writing takes a step up, and the Netflix series beautifully addresses a multitude of social issues throughout the course of the season. The Umbrella Academy season 2 is an outstanding addition to its imaginative world and leaves us in a brilliant place for a 3rd season of the show. It’s a super fun ride that manages to make you care about these characters in a way which season 1 didn’t. Season 1 was already a brilliant show, and a huge step up was made between productions. This is some of the best TV to have come out this year and Netflix’s best by miles.