Netflix has had great success with their original adaptions in the past, with standouts including the wildly popular Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards. Soon, there may be another title to add to this list.
The wildly popular children’s books A Series of Unfortunate Events will be the next adaption Netflix takes on. Like the title indicates, the series is actually quite dark and dreary- not your typical children’s chapter books. The thirteen volume saga follows young Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire journeying from deranged relatives and distressing foster situations, while running from the dastardly Count Olaf who is trying to steal their large inheritance.
A Series of Unfortunate Events doesn’t shy away from heavy material in order to cater to children or talk down to them; rather, it respects their ability to handle the subject matter while using some humor to prevent it from being too dire. This is a difficult task, since Lemony Snicket has the young children navigating through some very treacherous and horrible settings, included but not limited to a boarding school with a crazed headmaster, a cannibalistic carnival, and a macabre hospital. These settings are disturbing, but provide a strong foundation for some very visceral and startlingly visual TV episodes.
The books have already been adapted into a movie produced by Paramount Pictures. Recieving mostly good reviews, it combined elements of the first three books to create a cinematic race from the deranged Count Olaf, played with glee by Jim Carrey. While it felt a bit crowded due to cramming three books into two hours, the film walked the line of dark humor and actual darkness relatively well. While the movie was good, the length of the series will make it much more suited for television than for the big screen.
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny with Jim Carrey’s mad Count Olaf
Paramount Television, the TV counterpart to Paramount Pictures, will be collaborating with Netflix to produce the series. Author of the series Daniel Handler, writing under pseudonym Lemony Snicket, will also be working on the project.
The mysterious Lemony Snicket’s author photo
When asked his thoughts on this adaption, Handler said, “I can’t believe it. After years of providing top quality entertainment on demand, Netflix is risking its reputation and its success by associating itself with my dismaying and upsetting books”(Hollywood Reporter). While Handler’s sunny outlook is refreshing, I don’t think he needs to worry.