If your kids are around 4th grade and up, you seriously have to stream A Series of Unfortunate Events by Netflix. It launched this weekend and it’s their first true “family” show…as in, something mom and dad can watch with the kids without wanting to stick a fork in their eye. No offense, Netflix, your cartoons are great…but I don’t always want to watch talking animals.
Psst: I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team and this post is sponsored. All opinions are mine, including the TRUE FACT that Netflix hit this show out of the ballpark.
I have not read the books, so I have no idea where this story is going. The last ASOUE (A Series of Unfortunate Events) book was released when my high schooler was in first grade, and it was still pretty popular when he was old enough to read them. But we’re more into swords and spaceships around here, so I didn’t push him to read the gloomy looking books.
It’s a shame.
See, the Netflix people hired Daniel Handler, the man behind the Lemony Snicket pen name, to adapt his own books to the screen. And not just to your TV screen, but to the world of streaming–the show is equally delicious when viewed an episode at a time or binged over a weekend. From what I’ve been told, it’s a faithful adaptation full of the dark, dry humor the books hold. Plus a little song and dance because, hey, they hired Neil Patrick Harris to portray Count Olaf. By the way…Harris is awesome. If you have no interest in older children’s novels, you still need to watch just to see this man in action. It’s marvelous.
The Right Age for A Series of Unfortunate Events
I would like to point out that this series isn’t for everyone. The original books clock in with an AR level of 6.4, and Amazon suggests them to kids over 10. The Netflix show is totally PG, but the subject matter is dark. In case you’re unfamiliar with the series, the brilliant Baudelaire children are orphaned when their parents are killed in a fire. Their parents left behind a fortune–locked up until the oldest child comes of age. With nothing but the clothes on their backs, the orphans are mistakenly sent to live with Count Olaf, a man who’s only interested in stealing their fortune.
Younger kids might not get the satire and the dry humor. This isn’t slap stick…the two older orphans are the straight men in this story, with Count Olaf and his ridiculous henchmen getting all the good jokes. Violet and Klaus are super serious and super smart–but not funny. Baby Sunny is hilarious–she’s just an infant, but her coos and giggles are translated by subtitles to be a series of wisecracks.
But it ASOUE is really funny. In the first story (each of book in the series will get two Netflix episodes) baby Sunny is being held hostage as a bargaining chip to make Violet do Count Olaf’s evil bidding. But the baby tricks her captor into a game of poker…and wins her freedom. Mitch thought that was pretty freaking hilarious.
The show is narrated by Patrick Warburton, playing the role of Lemony Snicket. It’s perfectly deadpan, with him walking into the scene and imploring to the viewers to go watch something happier–a gimmick used through out the book.
If you want to dig deep into the behind the scenes, I’d recommend reading How Netflix made A Series of Unfortunate Events, its first great TV for families on the Verge. Or just fire up Netflix and give it a watch.