A Series of Unfortunate Events

By Caitlin Herlihy

This weekend, I spent Saturday evening at home, cozied on the couch with my mom. My mom, an elementary school principal, insisted we watch A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. After seeing the 2004 movie, I was skeptical of the show. However, it wasn’t as unfortunate as one may first believe.

Although we only watched one episode, I was able to get a general sense of the series. To my mom’s delight, the show follows the children’s books very closely. Three orphans are sent to live with their evil Count Olaf, a sinister actor hoping to scheme the family’s fortune. The attention to detail is a result of the book’s author, Daniel Handler, being an executive producer and writer for the show.

Screenshot 2017-02-06 23.30.09.png

Still from A Series of Unfortunate Events, “The Bad Beginning: Part One” (Season 1, Episode 1) 

Just like in the book, Lemony Snicket breaks the fourth wall to address the viewer and define words, an element I loved in the books. While some critics find it charming, I grew frustrated by the frequent interruptions.

Although the acting was cheesy at times, the cinematography was beautiful, and I was surprised by the celebrity cast. While I doubt that I’ll finish the series, the first episode left me nostalgic for my childhood.


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10 Responses to A Series of Unfortunate Events

  1. mediaphiles says:

    My mom also watched this show – she had been a big fan of the movie with Jim Carrey. She had many of the same thoughts, and found it mediocre compared to the film – but she hasn’t read the books, so perhaps that would make a difference on a viewer’s opinion.

    -Meg Schmit

  2. mediaphiles says:

    While I have yet to watch the Netflix series, I too was once a fan of the books and the 2004 film. Like you, I’m interested to see how my childhood nostalgia holds up as I watch the Netflix version. It will be quite telling I’m sure to compare how the three forms of media—all of which dealing with the same narrative—go about telling the story differently, and pinpointing what choices were made for visual interest and what choices were made unconsciously due simply to the fact that we interpret stories differently over time.

    – Lydia Geisel

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I watched an episode of the series recently at a friends house and had the same type of reaction. I read a lot of the books as a kid and so it was cool to be brought back to that, but overall I wasn’t captivated by it. While I thought it was well done and didn’t find the one episode that I watched to be boring, It just wasn’t something that I could get into for an entire season, and therefore probably won’t end up watching any more episodes.


  4. mediaphiles says:

    I saw the whole season, I liked it a lot. It certainly does a great job at following the books, and the acting, though cheesy, fits to the expectation quite well. The frustratingly, charming show has a second season coming, and I can’t wait!
    Michael Cyphers

  5. mediaphiles says:

    Interesting that there is both a movie and a television series. How do they compare to each other? I have only read the books and it has been a while so I’m curious if the film and shows can recreate the story for me as i recall it. I wonder if this starts a trend. Having a book, movie and television series, because it allows you to reach a larger range of people.
    -Dez Wortham

  6. mediaphiles says:

    So far, I have watched three episodes of the series. Like many others, I was also very skeptical about this show, but I have grown to understand it. When I was younger, I read the books and saw the movie. I was very appreciative that this story still touches the hearts of many people today. Though it seems cheesy, it seems very intentional. The book as well as the 2004 adaption of this series also gives off this very cheesy feel; however, this series is grandiose in nature. The outlandish storytelling is intertwined with the grimness of this story. It’s almost as if they are treating this series as if it were a cartoon. I’ve grown to really like the direction they steered this series in and I am very interested to see the rest of the three part series.

    -Shelby Halliman

  7. mediaphiles says:

    Caitlin, I just finished the first episode tonight! The Netflix series definitely has a different sway to it than the film did and the cinematography is absolutely stunning! I have to ask: did you find the breaking of the fourth wall to be an interruption that pulled you away from the story, or was it solely an added piece that you did not particularly enjoy? Thank you so much for your commentary!

    -Luke Dellorso

  8. mediaphiles says:

    My sister and I watched the film version of the books close to a hundred times growing up. I am skeptical to watch the television series in fear that it will damage my childhood memories. However, I think if I go in with the mindset that I am paying attention to the cinematography and surprising celebrity cast, maybe I will allow myself to watch the first episode.

    Katherine Naylor

  9. mediaphiles says:

    I can remember reading the books growing up, and I think I will take some time to look at the series. I have heard mixed reviews on it, but I usually enjoy watching a movie or film after I have read the books. In terms of the cinematography, I look forward to seeing how it is done.

    Catherine Maier

  10. mediaphiles says:

    I watched the first episode as well, but I actually couldn’t finish it. Even though I read the books and noticed the similarities, I found myself being too annoyed by clashing aesthetics. There’s very harsh pastels that don’t fit with the dark parts of the show. I understand what the producers and creators are going for, but I don’t think that it works. I found myself looking back and appreciating the film more, especially since I didn’t like it as much at the time.

    I still want to give the show one more chance, though. But that dance number in the first episode made me roll my eyes so hard I couldn’t keep watching.

    Russell Lawrence

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