By SAM DEASSIS
Asst. Arts & Culture Co-Editor
Whether you read the book series by Lemony Snicket or simply watched the creepy 2004 film starring Jim Carrey, you have more than likely heard of “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” However, since the movie’s release, fans have heard little to nothing from the lovable Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. But on Jan. 13, to the delight of many, Netflix heroically swooped in with a new series based off of Snicket’s appreciated tales about three orphans and the evil man seeking to steal their inheritance.
As someone who was only familiar with the story from the 2004 film rather than the books, I had less of an emotional connection to the lives of the Baudelaire children. However, I was still extremely excited to see the new series pop up on my Netflix account. Once I realized that Neil Patrick Harris was to star as the evil, manipulative, money-grabbing Count Olaf, my excitement soared. With such an acclaimed comedic actor cast in the lead role, it was highly unlikely that this new series would go on without the intense attention of the public eye.
And it clearly has not. On Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, it is hard to find someone who hasn’t already watched the series at this point. It seems that Fordham is full of die-hard fans of Snicket’s original book series. “I was really excited when I found out that ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ was coming out starring Neil Patrick Harris,” Daniela Silva, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’20, said. “He did such a great job and I was very happy with the way the show turned out. It was very true to the books and just an enjoyable watch.”
Contrary to the negative feelings that often surround books taken to the screen, students at Fordham all generally seem to approve of this remake. “I was worried the show wouldn’t be able to capture the whole meta aspect of the books without being heavy-handed, but I was amazed at how well it worked,” Kiley Brian, FCLC ’20, said.
“The Netflix series does a great job of closely following the books, down to the titles of the episodes,” Melanie Katz, FCLC ’20, agreed. “In some ways the online series even has an advantage over the books, as it is able to utilize visuals for symbolism and foreshadowing.”
True to the books, the new series follows the unlucky lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, as they lose their parents in a housefire and are taken in by an evil man by the name of Count Olaf. Clearly not a child-lover, Olaf treats the Baudelaires like slaves, directing them to clean his repulsive house and suffer inhumane living conditions. However, this depressing-sounding tale is far from a tearjerker—and Count Olaf’s character is hardly unenjoyable to watch.
From the very first episode, it is clear that Neil Patrick Harris stole the show in a manner similar to Jim Carrey in the 2004 movie. He successfully embodied a villain that all viewers can love to hate—or love to laugh at. With his exaggerated portrayal of child-like, obvious evil, Harris perfectly executes the ironic comedy that is held so dear to Snicket’s original tales. With a story plagued by death and misfortune, the use of humor causes it to be a uniquely enjoyable mix of tragedy and comedy.
What makes the series even more respectable is that it was originally intended for children, but with the delay in starting the remake it is now something enjoyed largely by young adults and college students. The well-produced eerie ambiance along with the arrangement of lovable characters is something that can be enjoyed by almost anyone, regardless of whether or not they read the books.
Contrary to the gloomy title, “A Series of Unfortunate Events” may not be so unfortunate after all.