By Amelia Miller.
Netflix’s new series, ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, may be the first book-to-screen adaptation I won’t incessantly ridicule. The first season is only eight episodes long, with every two episodes covering one of the books in the series. Having read every book in the series as a child, I found myself dismayed with the movie. So my expectations regarding this series weren’t very high; nonetheless, they were surpassed.
The cast for the show is small but ridiculously talented. The villainous antagonist, Count Olaf, is played by actor and comedian Neil Patrick Harris. Harris plays the character perfectly, creating a villain shockingly evil, yet disturbingly funny. The actions of Count Olaf are nefarious at best. Even so, Harris keeps the character quirky and comical, portraying him as an increasingly vexed and struggling actor with a seriously large ego. Violet, the eldest of the Baudelaire children, is played by Malina Weissman. Violet is clever and creative and the glue that seems to hold the siblings together. Klaus, played by Louis Hynes, is the middle child, full of wisdom beyond his years and a fervent passion for reading and learning. Arthur Poe, the exceptionally foolish banker, is played by K. Todd Freeman, and is so incredibly naive that more often than not, I find myself more annoyed with him than with Count Olaf.
Perhaps most importantly, Lemony Snicket is played by Patrick Warburton. Lemony Snicket is the ever-present informant, who breaks the fourth wall in every way imaginable. Breaking the fourth wall is either done correctly or incorrectly, there is no in-between with such a difficult concept; this show accomplished it correctly. He often drops in, warning us of the incoming disaster and misfortune which would soon strike the Baudelaires. While Count Olaf brings humour, Lemony Snicket brings an air of dark desolation and fear. Lemony Snicket fades in and out of the story, always giving us too much information, but at the same time not nearly enough. He teases us with tidbits of knowledge, never truly revealing what has happened to the Baudelaire parents, never truly telling what his business is with the Baudelaires, and never truly divulging what his business is with the family and the disaster that has engulfed it. He advises the viewers, with increasing fervent, to look away, to save themselves from the unfortunate events that are the Baudelaire children’s lives.
The story is thrown together with a wild yet certain finesse. All characters are oddities, and all settings are whimsical, despite the focus on the real world. The children are perfect, yet their world is a mess. You are consistently warned to look away yet enticed to dive deeper. The show contradicts itself in the best way possible- bringing to life a story both suspenseful and beautiful and bringing to life characters who are both peculiar and fascinating. This show may not be perfect, but the consistency with the books certainly makes it a solidly interesting show, that draws in viewers both young and old. ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ will make you think and laugh and frustrate you to no end. So, would I recommend this series? Yes, I would. It may not be the best series on Netflix right now – it’s certainly not as unique as ‘Stranger Things’, and it doesn’t have the same attention-drawing quality that ‘Game of Thrones’ possesses – but if you’re in need of something new to binge-watch, ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is a good option for lovers of all genres.