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A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season Two Review

April 12, 2018


Since the disappointingly inaccurate 2004 movie, A Series of Unfortunate Events seemed doomed to never be on film again. However, last year, it was announced that A Series of Unfortunate Events would become a Netflix show, and the first season, eight episodes covering four books, was refreshingly faithful to the novels. Season Two, launched at the end of March, was given good reviews. Aside from minor differences and subplots, the characters were part of the same narrative on screen as they were on page.

The dire book series follows three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, who must evade their greedy stalker, Count Olaf. The children, surrounded by well-meaning but buffonish guardians (who often die or disappear), are mostly on their own when dealing with Olaf, who makes it clear again and again that he has no problem with arson, murder, and thievery.

The first season found the three Baudelaires in the carnage of their parents’ deaths and immediately afterward, they were saddled with Count Olaf’s hunger for their family fortune. The first four books were faithfully portrayed to the point that fans feared Season Two would be a disappointment. However, Netflix delivered a brilliant follow-up focusing on books 5-9.

Season Two finds the Baudelaires enrolled at Prufrock Preparatory School, which teaches less and discriminates more. Though the children make friends and manage to stay afloat in their classes, it is only a matter of time before Count Olaf shows up for a fifth time. The Baudelaires escape, though their friends don’t, and the vicious cycle starts up again.

Though it is considered a children’s series, A Series of Unfortunate Events deals with very dark themes, and the adaptation is no different. Two major characters are murdered, children are constantly in life-death situations, and nearly nothing happy happens. But the darkness becomes necessary when the message it sends becomes clear: sometimes no one can help you but yourself.

With David Handler, the author of the series, on set, the adaptation was bound to be faithful. Season Two of A Series of Unfortunate Events was just as darkly delightful as its predecessor, and, according to critics, just as good. Though it strayed slightly further from the books, it was only to expand on subplots of pre-existing characters. Humor and whimsy kept the episodes from becoming too dark, but the dialogue and plot were still serious enough to hold the viewer’s interest. Two weeks after airing, Season 2 has gained acclaim from critics, and Season 3 has been confirmed.

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