So, confession time. I never actually read the book series, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Nor did I ever watch the 2004 film with Jim Carrey. I vaguely remember being interested when I was in high school, but never actually got around to seeing it. It looked interesting enough but it was definitely added to my “Y’know, whenever I get to it I guess” list.
So. About twelve years later or so someone decided to redo it as a series for Netflix and it was released on Friday the 13th (yes, I just got that, too). With a day off, and just work at home stuff to get done along with minor chores I decided to finally give it a shot.
I got it all done in almost one sitting. And it still wasn’t enough. Jesus H. Christ on a cracker.
Growing up, my favorite films and books and tv series and what not always leaned more toward the dark and dark comedies and just strange and such. They still do. But think Adventures of Pete and Pete, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Addams Family, Matilda, Kids in the Hall, etc. I knew from a very, very young age that I was different, that I was very odd, and dark. Little things that I was drawn to kind of brought me comfort, reassurance that there was nothing wrong with this. Matilda is so important to me for that reason.
I really, really wish that I had watched the film in high school, and that I had known about the book series when I was significantly younger.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a children’s series, and it is very, very fucking dark. The Baudelaire children are orphaned when their parents die in a very random fire, and then are left to live with an uncle that they have never heard of who makes it clear to them (but conveniently no one in a position of authority, of course. classic WB frog syndrome) that he is after their outrageously large fortune that no one, even them, can touch until Violet turns of age. Count Olaf goes as far to say that he will force Violet to marry him so that he can access it (but then that is kabashed when he learns that he can’t legally marry her because she is underage). And then every guardian that they are placed with is murdered. Because why the fuck not. All the while Patrick Warburton narrates the events as the titular Lemony Snicket.
This series is very, very dark. But it more importantly is very, very honest. It serves as a reminder that is consistently lost in Disney films or general children’s entertainment that the world is not always positive, that it is not always an easy happy life. Too often when parents die the children in this entertainment go directly from the information straight into the rest of their life. In ASoUE, the Baudelaire orphans are allowed time to grieve and process the information and what it means in regards to them and their future. They are forced to grow up quickly in a realistic way (or as realistic a surreal series can allow), and approach certain situations in a practical way.
As Warburton’s Snicket points out in one episode, sometimes that villians win and the heroes lose. Sometimes it honestly does not matter how hard you work or how hard you try or how “good” of a person you are, you will lose and the villains will win. Sometimes that does happen. I think that is so important that the series takes the time to actually talk about that and go into what that means. The Baudelaires for all intents and purposes are genuinely good, kind people and work very hard, and mean very well but sometimes Olaf does win. Sometimes his allies do win.
The series is very aware of itself, its uniqueness, its surrealness, its oddity. And what is important to note is that it is very aware without saying anything that anyone enjoying it to a degree does have a little bit of oddness to them themselves. In the final episode as the Baudelaires are sitting on a bench in their new boarding school, mirroring behind them is another set of presumably orphans. As Snicket’s voiceover points out that it is okay to be exactly how you are, who you are. And there is no reason to be ashamed of that.
This series is so different. But because of that it is so important. Whenever I talk about my Aunt Susan to people, I always without fail to mention for one reason or another that growing up she never talked to me like I was a child. She was aware of this, and made sure to make the boundary line of the child and the authoritative adult clear to both of us, but she always spoke to me with respect and levity regardless of what we were talking about; whether it was something lighthearted or something serious. She just spoke to me in a way that I would be able to comprehend at the level I was at the time. This is important to note because this series does the exact same thing. It refuses to shy away from having the children discuss and react to adult situations and issues, and just has them meet them at their comfort levels appropriate for them.
I love this series, needless to say. I’m excited to dig into the books when I have time, and hopefully go back and watch the original Jim Carrey vehicle, and obviously I’m excited for more episodes if those are in the cards.
Also, we need more Patrick Warburton in our lives. In everything in the history of ever. I would watch a YouTube channel of him unboxing LootCrates or MunchPaks forever if that was what I had to do. But hey.