A Series of Unfortunate Events: Delightfully Dark

You know you are in for a great ride when a show begins with a title song sung by Neil Patrick Harris that literally warns you not to watch the show any further. It is even more gratifying when you ignore the warning, and thirty minutes into the show realize that it’s one of the most entertaining shows you’ve ever seen. Fortunately enough, this was the case with Netflix’s adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Featuring a stellar cast and a unique, witty presentation, Unfortunate Events is undeniably one of Netflix’s best shows so far and you just can’t help but love it.

Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and Presley Smith as the Baudelaire siblings

Like the books, the show focuses on the lives of the Baudelaire siblings. After their parents die in a fire, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to live with their distant relative, a theater actor named Count Olaf. Unbeknownst to the children, Count Olaf’s real intention is to get rid of the children and thereby claim their family’s fortune.  The series follows the children as they attempt to escape from the Count and start unraveling a conspiracy to which their parents and relatives were tied along with Count Olaf.

A Series of Unfortunate Events stayed true to its title throughout the first season. From the very beginning viewers see the Baudelaires move from one place to the next, surviving one mishap the other, barely escaping from Count Olaf’s clutches. Despite this, the show is never a depressing watch. The most interesting part about Unfortunate Events is how well the traumatic story of the Baudelaires and the show’s humor blend together, once again proving that the manner of narrating a story plays a significant role in its impact on the audience. With a few tweaks in its presentation, Unfortunate Events would have been a more depressing show than The Leftovers. Instead, what we actually got is a show narrated in a peculiar manner filled with an abundance of clever jokes and puns.

Neil Patrick Harris delivered an impeccable performance as Count Olaf

However, it would be wrong to conclude that Unfortunate Events’s success solely lies on its presentation. The show does have a plot that is equally enticing as its narration. In between living with a few different relatives and running from Olaf, the children stumble across some clues pointing towards the truth about their parents’ lives. Following this thread, the show subtly builds its mystery and puts forth several questions. At the end of the season, though not fully resolved, the show offers some insights into its mysteries.

Unfortunate Events’s cinematography deserves some attention too. It is a good example of how visual style can influence the tone of a show or movie. In the first chapter, Count Olaf’s mansion is contrasted against the rest of the town and Justice Strauss’s home by using gloomy filters and bright, popping color tones respectively. Similar use of color tones and filters could be seen throughout the whole season. Music had an important role in the show as well. The portentous title song is enough to get anyone hooked to the show and the soundtrack composed by Nick Urata and Daniel Handler complemented the narrative nicely.

Patrick Warburton as the narrator, Lemony Snicket

And last, but definitely the best is Neil Patrick Harris’s impeccable performance as the evil Count Olaf. In spite of being the antagonist, Count Olaf was certainly the most engaging part of the show. With Neil Patrick Harris embodying the character, it often felt life Olaf was an aged and more sinister variant of Barney Stinson and that’s a good thing. Harris stole the show as Olaf and his many aliases and it was an absolute treat to watch him on screen. Malina Weissman(Violet) and Louis Hynes(Klaus) handled their lead characters without any faults. The show was narrated by Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket and featured a popular supporting cast comprising Joan Cusack, Aasif Mandvi, Alfre Woodard, K. Todd Freeman and recurring-guest appearances from Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders, all of whom delivered great performances.

In conclusion, A Series of Unfortunate Events is a great show worth binge-watching regardless of what genre you are actually interested in. With an interesting plot, great humor, and amazing performances, Unfortunate Events is a major score for Netflix. The show has already been renewed for a second and third season already. So if you haven’t watched it yet, better get to it!

Nisanth Suresh

About Nisanth Suresh

I’m a Commerce student hailing from a small town in Ernakulam, Kerala. I am something of a cinephile, enjoy reading comics and fictional novels in my free time. I fell in love with TV shows after discovering the classic sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S when I was 13 years old. Over several years and a load of other shows, I discovered the strength of television as a medium for long-term, compelling story-telling. What started out as a leisure time hobby is now a passion and I’m always in search of great new shows to watch. I never miss out on opportunities to discuss about the shows that I love and hate and now utilize my position at SpectralHues to share my views with the rest of you.


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