Look away from Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”… (don’t, actually)

A still from Netflixs A Series of Unfortunate Events.

A still from Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.

Sydney Woodward, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Netflix’s new “A Series of Unfortunate Events is fortunately the most accurate adaptation I’ve ever seen from book to television. The series went live Jan. 13, and as someone who grew up reading Lemony Snicket’s dark tales, I was overjoyed that the newest rendition lived up to the hype.

The books and series follow what happens after the Baudelaire children are placed into the care of their distant relative Count Olaf, after a mysterious fire kills their parents. Olaf is an actor who is determined to claim the family fortune for himself.   Following Olaf’s failed attempt to claim the fortune by killing the children, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and uncover the mystery behind a secret society from their parents’ past.

One of the biggest changes from the books to the series is that the mystery of the secret society, called the VFD, as opposed to it being involved from the fifth book onward. Overall this is a change for the better, there isn’t a strong  connection to the secret society in the first four books. Additionally  by the end of the books, Snicket was just trying to connect the players from the early books into the overall mystery making it feel contrived and just clumped together. The books try to claim Aunt Josephine and her husband Ike were scientists in the society, that Uncle Monty was a member and somehow Sir and Charles were alo members and it just doesn’t work.

The casting in the show is wonderful. Neil Patrick Harris does a wonderfully vile Count Olaf (they keep him as vile as ever yet give him a nice a bit of comedy to balance him out). I had my doubts about Patrick Warburton playing the author/narrator Lemony Snicket but he has pulled it off.

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, the Baudelaire children, are played by Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Presley Smith. Weissman plays the role of older sister trying to keep it together for younger siblings with strength, Hynes does of great job of being respectful and yet sassy at the same time, and Smith is best baby actress I’ve ever seen in my whole life. She stays so calm and her expressions are just absolutely perfect.

Todd Freeman rounds out the main cast, playing Mr. Poe, the banker in charge of the children’s affairs. He perfectly captures the jolly who stems the frustration from the audience has for him being utterly useless to Baudelaire’s situation.

The side characters are great as well. The guardians are kind yet utterly useless as they should be. Olaf’s henchmen are competent and yet incompetent at the same time and it somehow just works. Even some characters like Jacqulyn and Gustav, who weren’t really featured in the books, get their own moments as well.  

The show’s aesthetic however is a perfect mismatch, not allowing the viewer to place when the show takes place. This would be a downfall for some shows, but “Unfortunate Events” balances it perfectly. The clothes and the settings made it feel like this was set in 50’s or 60’s yet the mention of the Internet or Uber always threw it off making it truly take place anytime.

The original music for the series is also intriguing. The theme called “Look Away” was always sung by Harris and changed depending on the “book.” Olaf’s disguise, as he sang,  was very creative. Two additional songs, one in the first episode and one the last episode, were also very amusing

All in all I look forward to season two, where they will adapt books five through nine, and see what their spin on the series will be.