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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

A Series of Unfortunate Events review: Oh my, Netflix. What have you done?

A Series of Unfortunate Events review: Dear reader, if the theatrics of Neil Patrick Harris, and the absurd work of the filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld make you nervous, you must avoid this gloomy show at all costs.

tv Updated: Jan 13, 2017 20:59 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times
A Series Of Unfortunate Events must be killed before it lays eggs.
A Series Of Unfortunate Events must be killed before it lays eggs.

A Series of Unfortunate Events
Cast - Neil Patrick Harris, Malina Weismann, Louis Hynes, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack
Rating - 4.5/5

Dear reader,

If there is one thing that life has taught us all, it is this: All good things must come to an end. For some years now, we have been treated to some of the finest television shows ever produced. We have enjoyed high adventure, side-splitting comedy, and wrenching drama - all from the comfort of our homes.

But it is with great regret that I must inform you that those days are over. At one fell swoop – a phrase which here means ‘all in one go’, Netflix’s new programme, A Series of Unfortunate Events, has undone all that has come before with its tale of terrible tragedy and macabre melancholy – a word which here means ‘very, very sad’.


Don’t be fooled by the success of the novels upon which this show is based. Blind ambition, monetary recompense, and shiny medals were not what drew Lemony Snicket, the brave man who has dedicated his life to chronicling the misfortune of the Baudelaire siblings, to this tale. Fortunate are the ones who have been taught the lesson, ideally by an adult whom they admire and respect, that success rarely defines quality.

It is in times like these that we must never forget the story of the Swedish clothing manufacturers Hennes & Mauritz, who made all the money one could ever want, but failed to provide secure working conditions for their employees in a mystical, South-Asian land. Several of them lost their lives in a terrible fire.

But the story of the enterprising Swedish clothing manufacturers Hennes & Mauritz, and their careless treatment of their doomed employees is a far more enjoyable alternative to the one that you are considering watching. The story of the Baudelaire siblings (Violet, Klaus and Sunny) also begins with a fire – but this one destroys their home, kills their parents, and makes them orphans. At one fell swoop.


The events that follow are filled with such sorrow and despair, it is keeping your well-being in mind that I recommend whole heartedly that you scroll further, and explore alternate streaming options. Perhaps an episode or two of a nice cartoon show?

The Baudelaire orphans, you see, dear reader – all very pleasant children – were left behind a great fortune by their deceased parents. Such is the greatness of this fortune that it attracts Count Olaf, a man so evil that he gives the impression that he is always chewing an apple and twirling his moustache – even though he has neither an apple to chew nor a moustache to twirl.


But with nefarious schemes concocted with scheming nefariousness (which invariably involve unconvincing disguises and bad acting), he tries to get his hands on the great fortune. And when I say ‘fortune’, I mean ‘large sums of money’ and not ‘luck’, which, unfortunately, the Baudelaire orphans do not have.

If you are easily bothered by women named Jacqueline, Pasta Puttanesca, incessant coughing, and if the theatrics of Neil Patrick Harris, and the absurd work of the filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld make you nervous, you must avoid this gloomy show at all costs.

Consider, perhaps, feeding a lonely pigeon, or unsubscribing from your Netflix account, for that is the source of this misery. Consider visiting that mystical South-Asian land that was once home to those doomed factory workers, or perhaps consider writing a letter, like this one, to warn others to keep away from the unpleasant story. But most importantly: Please watch something else.

With all due respect…

PS: Of course, this review pays homage to the inimitable style of Lemony Snicket, his novels and the show, which captures their essence in the most beautiful way possible. It is not supposed to be taken literally, but rather, as an enthusiastic endorsement. Go watch the show!

The author tweets @NaaharRohan
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