13 Reasons Why You Should Watch Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

I think we can all admit that Netflix has a lot of options. Like, a lot. And yet even with all these choices (or maybe because of them), it can be impossible to find something actually worth watching. It gets even more difficult when you have to factor in the different ages and interests of family and friends. I am here today to solve this problem for your next twenty or so hours of tv viewing time. I present to you Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (ASOUE).

person using silver and black laptop computerImage via Charles 🇵🇭/Unsplash

  1. If the title of this show feels vaguely familiar to you, that’s because it’s based on ‘Lemony Snicket’s’ (Daniel Handler’s) children’s book series of the same name. The adaptation is faithful to the books in a way that’s seen rarely, if ever. Each book is two episodes (with the exception of “The End,” which is one. The books were a significant part of my childhood, and watching such an accurate on-screen version feels like a triumph over more terrible less successful book-to-movie adaptations like “Percy Jackson” and “The Golden Compass.”

  2. Part of this accomplishment is due to the casting of actual children to play the part of children. Shocking, I know. Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes are not only age appropriate but give a surprisingly compelling performance. As for Presley Smith (Sunny), granted, she is set down off screen a lot, but at least she’s not entirely computer generated, which can’t be said for certain other franchises. The three seasons were filmed back to back, so their aging remains consistent with what would be expected in-universe.

  3. What changes and additions are present make sense, and enhance the story rather than detracting from it. I’ll be the first to admit that the formula of the first couple books quickly becomes repetitive, something that Netflix realized and worked to combat via new subplots and characters. The plotlines that intrigued and satisfied me as a child are not necessarily what does the trick now, and I’m impressed with Netflix’s awareness of this.

  4. Though the show is based on children’s books, the show treats its audience seriously. Every single detail isn’t spelled out, and the groundwork is laid for plots well in advance. The adults of ASOUE are generally useless, and it’s the children who save the day again and again. The situation isn’t reset at the end of the episode, and many unfortunate and upsetting events happen to the protagonists.

  5. Accordingly, ASOUE isn’t afraid to tackle social justice issues. When a villain says that a family is only one man and one woman, this remark is met with skepticism, and there’s more than one gay character. The cast boasts a diverse range of actors/characters, and Daniel Handler himself is an outspoken feminist. Another character comments that “there’s nothing villainous about free healthcare.”

  6. One of the highlights of the show is the Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender, a nonbinary character who constantly question the morality of the schemes they’re carrying out for Count Olaf. They have a degree in “interdisciplinary gender studies”, making them the most ‘woke’ character on the show, offering thoughts like “the concept of first seems to be problematically centered around the patriarchy.” These words of wisdom are generally completely at odds with the dialogue before it.

  7. The show is genuinely funny, for children and adults. Its complete lack of time and definitive place give it a plethora of references to use, from Nickelback to the Bible. Olaf and his acting troupe are as hilarious as they are villainous, not to mention their total lack of self-awareness.

  8. Many of these jokes are fast-paced, in addition to the number of visual gags and asides. Esme Squalor has one such line, a final throwaway that made me pause the show and rewind, just to take it in. The whole show is worth watching just for that.

  9. And don’t let Nickelback put you off. One of the main messages of the show is the importance of intellection and knowledge. It’s full of references to classics like “Anna Karenina,” “Moby Dick,” Shakespeare, and so many other historical and philosophical allusions.

  10. Visually, the show is stunning. A lot of work has gone into cultivating a peculiar sort of aesthetic, a uniformity of tone and color maintained throughout 24 episodes with 13 completely different settings. It’s a time and a place where trollies and taxis are still prevalent, but Count Olaf can stream tv and movies online.

  11. The costumes are just as unbelievable. Neil Patrick Harris spent hours in hair and makeup every day, and every single costume Esme Squalor has is more elaborate and stunning than the last.

  12. I’ve already mentioned the diverse cast, but they’re also extremely talented. A show with the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Tony Hale, Allison Williams, and Lucy Punch (playing a character that isn’t Cinderella’s stepsister) is already set up for success. Even the supporting cast is excellent.

  13. Anyone who talks to me about book-to-screen adaptations knows that I am a big believer in the limited/mini-series. Sometimes enough is enough, and for once, a show was allowed to end with dignity. Knowing all along that there would be only three seasons allowed the writers to tell a planned, contained story, with an emotional and satisfying ending. The world is indeed quiet here.

The entire series is streaming now on Netflix.