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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Not “unfortunate” at all

Neil+Patrick+Harris+leads+the+cast+as+the+hauntingly+funny+Count+Olaf+in+the+latest+bingeworthy+Netflix+series+%28Illustration+by+Luke+Malanga+%E2%80%9920%29.+
Neil Patrick Harris leads the cast as the hauntingly funny Count Olaf in the latest bingeworthy Netflix series (Illustration by Luke Malanga ’20).

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” charms on Netflix


I, like many others, have devoted countless hours to the onslaught of Netflix shows released in recent years.

From “House of Cards” to “Orange is the New Black,” I have enjoyed (and let’s face it – obsessed) over this new medium of storytelling. Each new show brings with it the promise of intriguing writing, quality production, and stellar casts. However, no show has grasped my attention so effortlessly and enthusiastically as the revamped “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” While watching the series, I found myself giddily squealing when each cast member was introduced, laughing hysterically at the quick witted humor, and practically biting my nails at every intense scene.

I should explain a minor detail – I was a self-proclaimed nerd growing up. While other kids were parading around their hard copies of “Harry Potter,” I was mesmerized by pseudonymous Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” which was packed with authorial intrusions and an enthusiasm for vocabulary. The plot twisted and turned, introducing characters from the mysterious and horrible villain Count Olaf to the tiny, sharp toothed Sunny. When all was said and done, this series boasted intellect over brute force – a lesson not lost on my starry eyed 11-year-old self.

A quick synopsis for new watchers: This series begins with the three Baudelaire children – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Intellectual, intuitive, and kind, these three children are left to fend for themselves after their parents perish in a terrible fire. To make matters worse, their evil guardian, Count Olaf, is after the “enormous fortune” left to the children by their parents, and will stop at nothing to get it.

As a fan of the book series, I was a little skeptical of Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf before I started watching the show. As painful as the original movie was, Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the vile villain in the 2004 film set the bar rather high for other actors to follow. Harris, however, took the character into new territory. He uses his humor as a way to safeguard his lack of external menace. I would also argue that certain scenes were haunting, such as when Count Olaf threw the Baudelaires’ new guardian, Aunt Josephine, to the leeches. Overall, Harris made the character his own, and I fully support it.

As far as the show’s writing goes, I was impressed. The series’ humor is very fast paced, and I was originally wondering if Snicket’s quick banter would fall to the wayside amidst the excitement. However, when a show manages to use the word “fiduciary,” then follows with a semi-crude joke about the word “titular,” it shows that someone on the writing staff deserves a commendation.

Overall, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by this series, which explains why I managed to finish it within three days. If you find the time before all the work of this semester sets in, consider giving it a chance. Though you’ve been warned that some of the scenes are just too terrible to watch, you’ll probably find yourself captivated and unable to look away.

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