Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

A Fortunate Adaptation of an Unfortunate Plot


If you are interested in reviews with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other review. In this review, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning, and very few happy things in the middle. My name is Bailee Clark. It is my solemn duty to review the story of the Baudelaire children and their series of unfortunate events.


“A Series of Unfortunate Events” is a cult classic book series for many millennials. In 2004, a film adaptation was made of the first three books. This year, Netflix has begun an original series that is to eventually depict all 13 books. Season one, containing eight episodes, covers the first four.

The series is the most expensive show Netflix has ever created. This fact is evident in the elaborate costumes, the set and the special effects. The series has an impressive array of actors, including Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, K. Todd Freeman as Mr. Poe, Will Arnett as the Baudelaire father and Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket.

The setup of the episodes about the first three books feels very similar to the 2004 movie adaptation, but the show had to tread into new waters for the fourth book, as the movie did not include it. It will be interesting to see how Netflix continues on their journey to depict the entire series.

The episodes have a very gothic feel about them. The series is darker than either the books or the movie. It seems like Netflix is trying to instill the same sense of darkness and twisted humor into the adult mind that the books did into children’s minds.

The visuals are the main thing that makes the show successful and worth the watch. The plot can get repetitive and predictable, but the show gets around this with a visually stimulating set and elaborate, well-designed costumes. Watching the series was quite aesthetically pleasing. The dialogue is greatly enhanced by the visuals, which seem to perfectly encapsulate and visually represent what is being said. There is a sense of dark humor that can be felt and seen throughout the series.

Another aspect that adds to the show’s success is the style and quality of acting, specifically by Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton. Lemony Snicket (Warburton) adds an interesting outside perspective with his narrations, and the clever puns he makes allow for a good chuckle amid the many dark experiences the children go through. Neil Patrick Harris embodies Count Olaf in a style similar to Jim Carrey’s 2004 portrayal. If you liked Count Olaf as a sarcastic, slightly geeky, offbeat terror, you will love Neil Patrick Harris’ take on the character. His talent in portraying a very strange character is impressive. Netflix made a perfect selection with Harris as Count Olaf.

The talents of the other actors and actresses in the show are impressive as well. Mr. Poe is a ridiculous and incessantly coughing personality that you can’t help but roll your eyes at as you chuckle. While nothing can top Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine, Netflix did a good job of casting an actress who offers a fresh image of the character. Aunt Josephine and Mr. Poe are both played by African American actors; it is always nice to see diversity being added to the mostly whitewashed world of mainstream film.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” manages to turn a dark tale into a fun watch. The show appeals to those with a dark sense of humor, those who appreciate irony, and those who appreciate visual story telling. Not everyone will be able to get into this style of media, and the story may seem very uninteresting to someone who has never read the books and cannot therefore appreciate the leaps Netflix undertook to make the adaptation work.

The show isn’t perfect, but it is a good adaptation that’s worth the watch. It isn’t easy to turn a 13-volume children’s book series, where the plot and outcome repeats itself in every book into a show that doesn’t collapse into hopeless monotony and repetition. But Netflix has managed to do just this. The events are predictable—we know that Count Olaf is going to show up in a disguise and torment the children and attempt to steal their fortune. However, the attractive style of filming and the stylish portrayal of said events saves the series from falling into the pit of failed attempts to make a children’s tale interesting to adults.

Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” brings a classic children’s story to life in a style reminiscent of Tim Burton. The show provides an aesthetic journey that will leave fans eager for the future seasons. Whether you have read the books or not, you should give the show a try. It would be unfortunate to miss out on Netflix’s latest creation.

The editor may be reached at
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