The Passion List Podcast | Scarlett McHale on The Umbrella Academy (Episode 4)
We interrupt the emotional whiplash of horrendous atrocities across the Globe merging with the positive news of the US presidency over the weekend to bring you an important announcement. It's time for episode four of The Passion List Podcast! This time media graduate and resin maestro Scarlett McHale joins me to talk about her favourite show/comic book series - Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's The Umbrella Academy.
The show’s logo and primary image were created by the wonderful Molly Massey, whose work and contact details can be found here.
The smooth, jazz-infused piece is again by the talented Kristen Kenyon, whose music can be found here.
*Please be aware that this episode features spoilers for both seasons of The Umbrella Academy TV show from the start of the episode*
Now I know what you're thinking. It's something along the lines of 'but George, my ears fell off this past week due to the radioactive fallout and now I'm just left with holes in the side of my skull. This would usually mean I'm still able to hear but only yesterday I woke up to a family of cockroaches nesting in there! They've blocked my ear canals and have set up a rather quaint little home and I'd rather not disturb them if I'm being honest. Is there any way I could take in the podcast if I'm unable to hear?' Well you're in luck amigo! I just so happen to transcribe each episode before release just in case of such an event!
Hope you enjoy!
GM: Hi Scarlett.
SM: Hi George.
GM: How are you?
SM: I’m good, how are you?
GM: I’m very well thank you. Would you mind telling us what your chosen topic is for The Passion List Podcast?
SM: Yes, so I chose the TV series The Umbrella Academy. But we’ll also talk about the comics too – everything-
GM: Just everything about it, the entire world of The Umbrella Academy.
GM: If you had to give an elevator pitch on what The Umbrella Academy was about, could you do that for us?
SM: Yes I can, and I will. It’s basically about, so…oh! We’re recording on the day they were born! Did you know this?
GM: That’s weird, I was gonna bring this up-
SM: I know! I literally just saw it today. So weirdly Brie Larson was born today as well, on the exact same day.
GM: So she’s one of them.
SM: She’s definitely one of them. Okay, so…on this day, I don’t know what year it is I think it’s 1979?
GM: It’s…hold on…1989.
SM: 1989 I was nowhere near close! Anyway, 43 or 46 women, the numbers – I’m not great at them so forgive me, all at the stroke of midday become pregnant and they weren’t pregnant before the stroke of midday on the first of October. They just have kids. So these 40-odd kids are born randomly out of nowhere and an eccentric billionaire gets seven of them then…basically the whole series is about them becoming adults and learning how to deal with very obscure powers.
GM: Yeah, it’s a kooky superhero thing, isn’t it?
SM: Yes, very much based on superhero quirks and traits. It’s as if Superman had a stint in rehab.
GM: Yes, yes that’s quite on the nose there. So it was based on a comic book series, wasn’t it?
SM: It was. It was written by our favourite person in the entire world, which is basically why I wanted to talk to you about it. It was written by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba.
GM: This whole episode is just going to be us going from The Umbrella Academy to My Chemical Romance over and over again.
SM: Yeah, I’m basically not going to talk about The Umbrella Academy. I basically wanted to just link in how we missed being able to see My Chemical Romance…
GM: Yes but we will see them when they come back next year, so that’s all good. So the comic book series came out in 2007, so it was in the aftermath of The Black Parade…
SM: Yes, and weirdly Gerard kept doing the comics for Danger Days?
GM: For Killjoys, yes.
SM: So that was on a very similar thing. He’s a very talented man.
GM: You read the comics when they came out, didn’t you? The original ones.
SM: I think I read the first two series’ because by the times they both came out I was in my peak emo days, and because Gerard Way had written them I was into it. He could’ve done anything and I just would have been like ‘that’s my jam.’
GM: Definitely, yeah.
SM: Very problematic of me.
GM: It’s interesting isn’t it because in the promo art for the series before the actual comics themselves came out, it looks-
SM: It looks like The Black Parade!
GM: Yeah it looks exactly like it!
SM: Yes, I 100% agree. It’s very weird.
GM: Everyone’s in bomber jackets and it’s all very gloomy…
SM: Yeah especially Séance and the way that he draws Luther is still very Tim Burton-esque. But obviously with a bit of his own style. But still very Black Parade if that makes any sense.
GM: Oh, definitely. Black Parade was a guy called James Jean and he’s a commissioned artist in himself, then Gabriel Ba jumped off from Gerard Way’s concept art for it all. I don’t know if you’ve ever read a Hellboy comic?
GM: It looks a lot like that art style by a guy called Mike Mignola, lots of jagged edges and stocky characters.
SM: Yeah Dark Horse Comics are very similar in style, because they’re all very dark and ‘edgy’ I guess.
GM: They’re the cool version of MARVEL, weren’t they?
SM: Yes, they were at the time. I remember them being very cool at the time. I remember finding the comics in an old comic book shop where I live, and I was like ‘ooh, Gerard Way wrote these? Amazing! They’re mine.’
GM: And you were hooked from there.
SM: Until I didn’t read the rest of them…
GM: Well after the second run they stopped doing them for ages and ages.
SM: I couldn’t find them anywhere.
GM: I think Gerard wanted to concentrate on his music, and by the time Dallas had just come out I think MCR had split up?
SM: So it was 2007 when it was first released and then the second comic was…2009?
GM: Oh yeah, so just before Danger Days and then he did the Killjoys comic. Did you read that?
SM: I read bits of them? I must have ordered a different comic very randomly and the Killjoys came with it as a promo piece, so then I bought the Killjoys one as well.
SM: I was very into buying comic books. You know I was totally this nerdy…
GM: You were so ‘nerdy’ and ‘emo’…
SM: Nerdy AND emo! The worst combination to be at age fifteen.
GM: Anybody over the age of thirty having a conversation with you would have found it a delight.
SM: Genuinely I must have been awful. I must have been awful to talk to.
GM: So it was very much because it was Gerard that you got into it?
SM: Yes, that was the only reason. It wasn’t like I went ‘this art style’s really cool, I prefer this, I really like comic books’ it was a ‘the person whose band I really really like at the time wrote a comic book so naturally I’m gonna read all of them that I can.’
GM: Well that’s how you find things isn’t it? That’s how it goes.
SM: Yeah, exactly. It was very much a fangirl thing of me to think I was really into comic books when really it was just this one specific comic book.
GM: So you weren’t a big comic fan of anything else at all?
SM: Not super big…I did one of my English dissertation essays on the origin of Captain America but that was basically it. I didn’t really like a lot of comics. I just preferred…yeah.
GM: Yeah, in 2007 and 2009 it wasn’t quite everywhere, yet.
SM: No, it was very quiet.
GM: It was still a nerd thing, really.
SM: A massive nerd thing. I remember I had photos of the comics and I posted them on my DeviantArt account…
GM: Wow…okay. Yeah. I mean, I’ve still got my copies here…
SM: I got rid of mine! I’m so sad! I had the individual ones, the literal individual comics.
GM: Oh yeah, I’m a bit of a knob so I used to wait until they were collected together because you’d get extra goodies.
SM: Oh did you? I just got them as a set from this comic book shop. I thought I might as well get a set because I’m not gonna read one and then go back and get the other ones.
GM: Yeah, exactly.
SM: I remember the covers being so cool.
GM: Yeah the covers are in the collected ones as well and some of them look very Black Parade-y.
SM: Yeah like the ones with Pogo. I specifically remember Pogo dressed as a girl…like as Marilyn Monroe.
GM: Is that when Number 5 goes to a strip club and there’s monkey strippers?
SM: I just remember reading it and being like ‘hmmm okay. I’ll choose to remember this but have no reason as to why.’
GM: Yeah it’s weird. If you go back and read them now, they are so weird.
SM: They are weird!
GM: I mean they’re still going now, series four is supposed to come out at some point this year-
SM: Yeah because I think he announced it at San Diego Comic Con that he wanted season three to come out but that was like…five years ago.
GM: Then obviously the Netflix series came out in 2019 and everyone was into it now.
SM: Yeah, they were gonna do a film like Watchmen. But they were like ‘well Watchmen didn’t go down well!’
GM: Yeah Watchmen didn’t make money! Whoopsie!
SM: This is dead please…
GM: Which is a shame because I think Watchmen’s pretty dang good.
SM: I think I tried to watch it when I was fifteen and at the height of my Umbrella phase because I was like ‘ooh comic books are really cool’ and I think I lasted half an hour before I got very confused and turned it off.
GM: Give it another shot now, it’s very pretty too.
SM: Yeah, I remember it being pretty but I just don’t think I liked it. The comic books are enough for me.
GM: So the show then, let’s talk about the show. After they failed at getting a film made, Netflix became the place to get things done. Especially if they’re a bit weird because there’s not so much of a risk, is there?
SM: No, which I like.
GM: It came out in 2019 with season one…
SM: Yes, I remember seeing the trailer and screaming because I was like ‘oh my God I remember reading these comics and really liking them’ and I couldn’t wait to see what they’d do to it. Then I remember being at Bedford when we all lived in Lincoln and it came out and I was just like ‘please, please I really wanna watch it, please please please’ and they were like ‘I don’t wanna watch a film’ and I was like ‘it’s not a film it’s a very good series about misfits and superheroes and I’d really like to watch it’ and me, Harry and Gus I think watched it and they were like ‘yeah it’s okay’ and I was like ‘…it’s really good.’ I think either they watched it by themselves and I binged it, then Lewis was like ‘I don’t really like the opening.’ I asked what he meant and he said ‘well it’s kind of cringey that they all dance together’ and that I agree with…but I think they were just trying to be a bit quirky with it. And it’s the first episode because it’s like, the first episode is their dad dying.
GM: Yeah, if you did it like the comics did it, it would be quite depressing and would put people off.
SM: Yeah, that would be no fun. There’d be no humour in it.
GM: It was adapted for TV by Steve Blackman, and he’s essentially said multiple times regarding the weirdness of the comics that ‘we wanna make sure the TV show follows the comics, but not properly’ so the main stuff that happens in the comics will happen in the series.
SM: Yeah that first series I knew off by heart. Even before I watched it I knew this and this happens. But when the second series came around, I was like ‘I don’t know any of this. I physically don’t remember any of this.’ I remember Number 5 going to Dallas and that in the comics he shoots the president and that happens in the series as well, but I didn’t actually remember anything else from the second series. I prefer that though.
GM: Oh yeah, you prefer not knowing don’t you because then it’s a new experience. It’s almost like a remixed version.
SM: Yeah I prefer the second series so much.
GM: So do I, I think the first season was a very strong opener and it had really really good moments, then with season two they just went ‘okay…let’s tighten things up a bit.’
SM: ‘And the soundtrack’s gonna be absolutely phenomenal for no valid reason.’
GM: I was a bit hesitant when the trailer first came out for season one because in my head all I remembered was how fucking weird the comic was and I was like ‘the trailer looks a bit normal…’ I thought they had toned down the weirdness. But the most exciting bit for me was that it featured new music from Gerard and I was like ‘OH MY GOD THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE’VE GOT NEW MUSIC IN YEARS!’
SM: ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’VE BEEN QUIET ALL THIS TIME?’
GM: Then of course between seasons one and two there was that fateful day, I was on a coach and I think you messaged me and I had just read the announcement that My Chemical Romance had got back together as well…
SM: Oh my God what a day…
GM: It was madness. It was absolute madness. But obviously a lot of money is put into a show like The Umbrella Academy for Netflix, and they weren’t sure if it was gonna be a hit or not so they held back on the weirdness. Does a little bit of you wish they kind of took on the strange things from the comics?
SM: I think even towards the end of the series I wish they’d gone a little bit weirder. So I made my brother, I didn’t make my brother watch it but we put it on on Netflix and that was the same day I messaged you being like ‘I know what I want my topic to be.’
GM: Oh yeah…
SM: Then my brother watched it, and he couldn’t stop watching it because he just needed to know how it ends. And that’s the bit I like. Being like ‘oh I need to figure out how this ends’ but I just wish they’d gone really weird about it. Even if Séance – because he’s not called Séance in the show-
GM: No they just call him Klaus…
SM: Yeah I would’ve preferred it if they called him Séance, I think.
GM: You’ve also got Spaceboy and Rumour and the others…
SM: Yeah. But they’re not called that. Then Vanya’s called The White Violin? HOW WEIRD? You have no powers and yet you have this random white violin that I’m gonna make you play forever…
GM: I know what you mean. It was a bit like they were worried not to make it too different from some of the superhero stuff.
SM: Yeah, which I get. I just prefer Klaus being called Séance.
GM: That would be cool, and Klaus is, I mean it’s no secret that, Robert Sheehan is everyone’s favourite thing about it.
SM: I adore Robert Sheehan in this. I’ve never watched Misfits or any of the other stuff he’s done, but I adore him in this. I think he’s perfect. So if Robert Sheehan is free on Thursdays I would like to hang out with him…
SM: Can you make that happen?
GM: I mean I can get in contact with the show’s producer and say ‘hey listen I’m a big shot podcast presenter…’
SM: Scarlett would like to hang out with Robert Sheehan…
GM: ‘My client would like to hang out with Robert Sheehan if he’s free on Thursdays, if that’s okay. She hasn’t seen Misfits so if that’s a dealbreaker…’
SM: It shouldn’t be. I feel like most of his fans are from Misfits so I can be like ‘…Umbrella Academy, please?’ Also, I appreciate his beard in season two but I hate it at the same time.
GM: Oh, the religious deity beard?
SM: Yeah. I feel like I haven’t said what the series is properly, I’ve just kind of mumbled along and talked about how we really like Gerard Way…
GM: I mean, you did the elevator pitch at the start. I suppose the difference between seasons is quite a big radical thing.
SM: It’s quite a big jump, especially because in the first series it’s quite a lot. When my brother first watched it he was like ‘well I never expected that to happen’ because obviously I went into it knowing that Number 5 was an assassin. Also I quite like how Number 5 genuinely just doesn’t have a name.
GM: Yeah I quite like that.
SM: I like it but, what was he in the comic? Was he still just Number 5?
GM: I think so, yeah. He’s the one that runs of, so…Hargreaves is kind of bitter towards him and just says ‘fine, you don’t get a name, then!’
SM: No name for you Number 5! Yeah I don’t know, maybe they pick their own names. But when you find out in the first series that Number 5 is a time-travelling assassin, because of course he is, you kind of use that to figure out the rest of the series. He finds out that the world’s gonna end in seven days, and so he has to stop that with these very obscure clues that he finds – including an eye that doesn’t exist.
GM: Yeah, he’s constantly trapped in his young body too.
SM: Do you not think that Aidan Gallagher, who plays Number 5, looks exactly like he would if he was eighty? He’s like an alien child. I fully believe that casting. He doesn’t look like a human being.
GM: I think he looks like a human being but again, in season two and some of the flashbacks for season one, you see the old version of Number 5 and I just look at him and go ‘yeah I can see you becoming him for sure.’
SM: Yeah he’s good. But I said this to my brother and I just said that I don’t think he looks like a real human being. He looks like an alien trying to impersonate a child.
GM: Which is weird considering his dad…
SM: I can’t remember who his dad actually is. I remember his dad looking like the commissions’ boss. You know, the fish…
GM: Oh, Carmichael?
SM: Yes, I remember him looking like that but I don’t think that’s right.
GM: See I was just referring to Hargreaves’ secret identity, mostly.
SM: Yeah that’s what I mean. I remember his secret identity looking like Carmichael. Because he’s a weird fish creature.
GM: Yeah, he’s supposed to be an alien isn’t he?
SM: Yeah which makes complete sense in a TV show about magical families.
GM: It’s almost like at the end of season two they’ve done two seasons of this ‘we’ve got seven days to save the world’ thing, so if you’ve not read the comics and you’re not familiar with The Umbrella Academy – like my dad who watched it, you’d think ‘oh, each season they’re gonna have seven days to save the world from the apocalypse?’ Then at the end of season two where there’s all these reveals of like, the Sparrow Academy and Hargreaves being an alien my dad turned to me and was like ‘it’s too weird isn’t it?’ and I said ‘no, it’s the right kind of weird.’
SM: We haven’t even said what season one and season two are! Because they’re very different. We’ve just kind of rambled about them.
GM: Alright let’s try and stick with season one first, then-
SM: This is you trying to dictate the podcast…
GM: I’m very bad at this! I don’t know how that’s not come across yet! I’m fully rambling in each and every episode!
SM: Well I didn’t have a structure either. All I wanted to say was if Robert Sheehan’s free on Thursdays could someone please contact me…
GM: That’s the only thing you wanted to do?
SM: That’s the only reason I wanted to do this!
GM: You’re gonna start tagging him and sending him this episode saying ‘hey…Thursdays right?’ So. Season one…
SM: Yes, in modern day.
GM: Do you wanna talk about the characters first? Individually maybe? Try Vanya…
SM: The worst one…
*George gasps like a bitchy teenage girl*
SM: No she’s not the worst! So Vanya’s played by Ellen Page. She is known in the comics as ‘The White Violin’ and she’s Hargreaves’ least favourite daughter because she doesn’t appear to have any powers. It turns out (big spoilers) that she’s obviously the one with the biggest powers! And he’s been trying to stop her from going crazy with them this whole time. He’s a terrible dad figure being all like ‘hmmm, we’ll just tuck that away and never talk about it.’
SM: So basically her power is she plays the violin and accidentally summons the end of the world with her power because she blows up the moon.
GM: And you can see it as a metaphor for mental or physical abuse and all of that kind of, jammy stuff. Because Hargreaves is a bit of a cunt to her-
SM: Not even a bit, he’s a massive cunt!
SM: He’s not a good dad.
GM: Yeah she’s grown up with being told ‘you’re insignificant, all your brothers and sisters have these amazing powers and you don’t have anything now go back to music.’
SM: Even though Luther didn’t really have a big power either…he just became Luther when he was put on the fucking moon by his dad.
GM: Yeah he’s just strong. I’m wondering if it’s a bit of a piss take of Superman, because as a character he’s quite boring. So the thing that makes Luther (Tom Hopper) interesting is the fact that this bad thing happens to him and he then becomes a monkey man.
GM: That’s another thing that’s in the comics but isn’t in the show. You were saying earlier with the monkey stripper – Hargreaves is obviously this big celebrity and in the comics it’s because he’s done all these successful science experiments so he’s given monkeys human consciousness and things like that. But by wiping that from the TV show you’ve just got Pogo – who looks amazing!
SM: Oh my god the CGI for Pogo is incredible!
GM: It’s probably just so expensive that they can’t have dozens or hundreds of monkeys spread across the world.
SM: One monkey is enough for this really, really expensive TV show. We’ll just have implications of other monkeys – well, not even that. Then the other family members like Diego whose superpower is he’s just good at knives.
GM: He’s great at knives…
SM: Yeah he’s a great cook. He’s cut the carrots really well.
GM: That’s his contribution.
SM: Yeah, Diego’s trained as an assassin and he can throw knives around corners and stop…people. He’s very good.
GM: He wants to be Batman, doesn’t he?
SM: Yes, very much so. Whereas Luther gave it up once he discovered his dad was a bad person, Diego is still like ‘I have to prove to my dad that I’m worth something.’ And we’re all like ‘literally why?’ Even in the first series he was this vigilante that would investigate police reports and try and help out with stuff even though he was very annoying and deterred and gets a police woman killed because he wouldn’t stop getting in the way.
GM: But it was sad because he loved her!
SM: Yeah but that was just the vibe I got.
GM: Oh yeah, it was definitely a case of not being able to stop wanting to be Batman.
SM: I guess Pogo’s like Alfred.
GM: Pogo is a lot like Alfred…Pogo and…um…
SM: His mum?
GM: Yeah is her name Grace?
SM: Oh! Yes! The robot mum.
GM: Yes, the robot mum…
SM: If anyone listens to this who hasn’t seen The Umbrella Academy we’re just fucking adding shit to a list of weird things.
GM: It’s only gonna get weirder as well.
SM: Pogo and the robot mum…
GM: Yeah he’s the monkey butler, she’s the robot mum android who’s based on an old woman from the 1950s then…Allison?
SM: I love Allison. I think Allison’s great. But in the comics she’s called ‘The Rumor’ because he power is that when she says ‘I heard a rumor’ and then a blank statement, the person who she’s talking to then does the thing. So if I said ‘I heard a rumor Robert Sheehan would hang out with me on Thursdays’ Robert Sheehan would do that.
GM: Hypothetically, yes!
SM: So if she says ‘I heard a rumor that blew your mind’ the guy’s head would then explode. She has a very cool power, but she deals with a lot because she’s made herself famous by using her powers to promote herself better. So she does all this and goes through adolescence and in her adulthood she then wonders if she deserves anything that she’s got because she didn’t have to work for it. So that’s quite a nice little storyline. She’s then trying to be a good person by not ‘rumor-ing’ people.
GM: Yeah she’s given this overpowered thing that makes her wonder about all of it. She’s got the sad story with her family as well.
SM: Yeah she rumored her daughter. I’m sorry, but if you were a parent you’d do the same. If your daughter doesn’t go to bed and she’s being a little shit you’d straight away be like ‘I heard a rumor you went to bed.’
GM: But is that abusing your power and your daughter?
SM: Yes and no…right, I would do the same. I would. If I had a child and they just wouldn’t go to bed no matter how hard I tried I’d just rumor them to go as a last resort.
GM: You could take each of the seven characters and apply that logic I think. Each other their stories is a really neat little bow – kind of sad, complicated and interesting at the same time.
SM: I think Klaus has the saddest. But he plays it off the funniest.
GM: Oh yeah, he’s built to be the character everyone loves.
SM: So let’s speak about Klaus…he’s ‘The Séance’ in the comics and that’s a shame because I really like the word séance. So Klaus can speak to the dead whether he wants to or not. It’s more spoken about in the first series whether he can control it or not because dead people will just show up looking for help and he’ll be like ‘I ‘aint fucking helping you, go away please.’ So his character just gets drunk and as high as possible to not speak to the dead but he can always talk to his dead brother, who is another man character – Ben. So he was called ‘The…Beast?’
GM: ‘The Kraken.’
SM: Ah yes, of course he was he had all those tentacles inside him.
GM: Yeah, Cthulhu living inside him.
SM: That must just not be good to have that.
GM: He’s given the shortest straw as a character because, well he’s dead.
SM: But doesn’t he die in a really weird way? I can’t remember how he dies.
GM: In the show I don’t think they’ve addressed it…but it’s only Klaus who can see or talk to him.
SM: Does he speak to his dad?
GM: His dad speaks to him?
SM: Oh yeah! Oh yeah that’s right.
GM: Klaus is such a traditional fuck up in that he’s always high or drunk, but he’s doing that to get rid of the psychological abuse that his dad gave him by locking him in a cemetery so he could talk to the dead because when he was a fucking child.
SM: A literal child! ‘Please I would like to go bake cookies with my mother who is also a robot!’ ‘No you must stay here overnight and speak to the dead and piss yourself in fear.’ So yeah, Klaus is dealing with a lot. It’s addressed very well-ish in the first series, where he gets out of rehab and exchanges his coin immediately for meth.
SM: I like that introduction to the character.
GM: He’s a cool bad boy. He wears cool clothes, he’s got an indeterminable sexual preference, he’s the coolest kid in school.
SM: Very cool. Very cool. I think Ben’s almost like his own conscience in a way. His brother’s the sensible one who always the voice of reason, asks him to occasionally try being sober but Klaus is always like ‘no.’
GM: They’re a comedy duo, aren’t they? Essentially…
SM: Yeah but he’s the only person doing it because no-one else can fucking see Ben.
GM: So season one starts when Hargreaves dies, but how did he die? Who did it? We kind of know, but don’t…So they all go to the funeral and it’s the first time they’ve all been together in years.
SM: Yeah, then Number 5 appears in a time vortex from 1960s Dallas – he can jump through time but not time and space. So to prove his dad wrong when he’s younger he tries it and gets stuck in the future, where he finds the apocalypse and he can’t go back to his family. He then joins a thing called ‘The Commission’ which is an assassin society, The Handler gives him a job as a time-travelling assassin. She says ‘you have to go and kill these people through time because if the Hindenburg disaster doesn’t happen it’s the end of the world, if JFK doesn’t die there’ll be another apocalypse so you have to go and kill X, Y and Z.
GM: Yeah, and the time machines are these little briefcases that everybody gets assigned.
SM: Yeah they’re very cute, and they’re also held by Hazel and Cha Cha.
GM: Yeah, weirdly they’re in the second run of the comics but the first season of the TV show.
SM: I really like them. And I love how they had a little love story between Hazel and the donut lady. They’re part of The Commission too, I don’t know if they’re mates necessarily but they work together closely…
GM: Yeah they’re friends by association and they wear these giant cartoon masks that sometimes come across as if they’re metal but then fold up like plastic…
SM: And they suction-cup to their heads as if they were an actual gas mask or something. It’s really good.
GM: Yeah there’s tonnes of guns, tonnes of slow motion and tonnes of music and montage stuff and it’s all very fun. In season one was there a moment where you realised ‘oh, this is really good’?
SM: Oh I liked it from the first episode because I was so happy that it became a series as opposed to me nicely reminiscing about it as a kid.
SM: So I really like the bit where they’re all dancing as a family to I Think We’re Alone Now but I know a lot of people didn’t like it.
GM: I don’t know why…it’s fine!
SM: It’s good! Ooh! One of my favourite bits is when Hazel and Cha Cha kidnap Klaus and he’s then forced to become sober and talk to dead people. There’s just this scene where they’re in a hotel room and they’re surrounded by all these dead people but Hazel and Cha Cha don’t know. So Klaus is like ‘you killed that woman in the Alps, didn’t you?’ and they’re like ‘how did you know that?’
GM: That’s very cool…
SM: And he says ‘she thanks you for setting her husband free’ and then Mary J. Blige’s character is like ‘what? That’s not what happened how would you know that?’
GM: Because they don’t know what all these people have superpowers. You’d have thought The Handler would go ‘oh, by the way…’
SM: Yeah they don’t tell them the bloody assassins a very important piece of information, that The Umbrella Academy all have powers.
GM: Yeah there’s a bit where Luther and Hazel get into a fight in The Academy and I remember Hazel seeing Luther as his shirt comes off and he reveals his monkey torso and Hazel’s just like ‘the fuck?’
SM: Yeah that’s when Luther’s finally revealed as like an actual monkey man as opposed to a weird guy who’s just very good at body building.
GM: That’s his story beat though isn’t it? He’s self-conscious that he’s a monkey and he’s in love with his adopted sister…
SM: Yeah. I did cry to be fair when they played Dancing in the Moonlight and danced together…
GM: That’s such a good moment, and I think it’s the same episode where all of that happens and they each get a taste of happiness but then it’s rewound and I was like ‘NO!’
SM: Put it back! Yeah, I had a big cry at that. I remember messaging my friends being like ‘am I crying to Dancing in the Moonlight? Yes I am.’
GM: They’ve all got these really cool parts to their character and then each one of them has this depressing-as-fuck side to them.
SM: Daddy issues.
GM: Whether it’s those, fancying your sister or whatever. So everyone’s a little pissed off with Vanya at the start-
SM: Yeah she wrote a book, being like ‘The Umbrella Academy treated me like shit, my dad treated me like shit, my siblings weren’t very nice to me and I don’t have powers, therefore I wasn’t as good.’ And it was bad publicity but she was like ‘well, it’s the truth.’ I understand why she did it. Also, she’s an aspiring artiste who needs money, so… why wouldn’t you write a book about your terrible childhood? Give her a break.
GM: Then she falls in love with this guy who does the whole ‘you are special Vanya!’
SM: Her lovely boyfriend who gives her gifts and breaks into her apartment to give her flowers for no reason…bit weird, as it turns out.
GM: Then he realises she’s got powers and he’s like ‘you need to use your powers even if it destroys the world. You’re special. I’m the only one that realises you’re special.’
SM: ‘But also I wanna be part of The Umbrella Academy too because I was born on the same day! That means I have powers!’ No! Just boring and annoying.
GM: That’s a nice little segway into season two where they find someone who’s actually born on the same day with powers!
SM: Oh! The Handler’s daughter!
GM: Lila! Yeah! At the end of season one Vanya’s destroyed the world, then Number 5 reveals he’s been experimenting with jumping through time. So they all hold hands like a big family and then poof, they’re off.
GM: So season two they’re all in the 60s, with very current themes like y’know…racism.
SM: Racism, yes.
GM: Which is never not a current theme.
SM: Yeah, to then have all the Black Lives Matter things become very relevant again whilst Allison, who is a black woman in the series, experiences racism in the 60s is very poignant.
GM: I think she experiences it in a very distinctive way as well. She’s in Dallas at the time of the JFK assassination so she’s got those ties to the ends and Raymond Chestnut who is her husband in the 60s, then he’s got ties to Martin Luther King Jr. because he’s a big part of the campaign for civil rights and there’s this big upheaval of things and it’s a really nice way of handling it within this…superhero show that’s not really a superhero show.
SM: They didn’t really need to go into it, if that makes sense. It wasn’t necessary. But they were like ‘this is an important issue.’
GM: Yeah it’s important too because in the comics, Allison’s white.
SM: Yeah! Which I…I’m kind of disappointed in Gerard Way for doing that because they were all white.
GM: I’m not disappointed – it was a different time, I guess.
SM: I guess so, yeah.
GM: If you’re writing a comic book series you don’t, necessarily have diversity as the immediate thing on your mind. Especially if they all have to come across as family.
SM: Yeah and they all have to be a bit weird and quirky in a specific style, I guess. I’m very glad that in the Netflix show they have Allison as black. And Ben’s Asian too. But yeah, she becomes a huge part of the civil rights movement and kicks off the sit-ins by saying that JFK’s coming to Dallas and it’s important to have the media covering them. Because she’s from the future, she knows that this thing’s a good idea.
GM: Again season two almost gives each character enough interesting story points. So Vanya is off…
SM: Being the most boring one.
GM: Why do you keep picking on Vanya!?
SM: She’s just gay in the 60s it’s not that interesting! I joke, it’s very interesting because obviously Ellen Page is gay in real life and she has a gay backstory so her and Sissy become a thing despite the fact that she has a husband.
GM: As a time travel story, there are usually strict rules for time travel. The first thing you usually get told is the butterfly effect, you step on a bug in the past and you drastically change the future. So I guess at what point did they think whilst living in Dallas and hoping to get back to 2019, whilst killing people, stumbling over the civil rights movement, being gay in the 60s, blowing up cars-
SM: Working for Jack Ruby…
GM: Yeah, and starting a cult, a worldwide cult, at what point did they think ‘we’re just gonna go back to 2019 and everything’s gonna be fine.’
SM: This is what caused the 2020 shit! That’s what they did! They fucked everything up in the 60s and now we have coronavirus. It was The Umbrella Academy!
GM: But The Umbrella Academy’s version of coronavirus is The Sparrow Academy…
SM: That’s not a good comparison!
SM: I just really like the second series. I think it’s a lot more fun.
GM: It’s a bit more light-hearted even though it handles the serious stuff well, too. Season one I think, the closest it comes to a serious tone is maybe Klaus’ Vietnam experience and PTSD?
SM: Oh yeah…I forget he travels to Vietnam. Then he falls in love with a man there too.
GM: Yeah Klaus is very, very pansexual.
SM: Obviously. He goes to that night club and the flashing lights give him PTSD and it’s just not a great time.
GM: There’s a veteran bar as well and obviously he’s a lot younger than everyone else there so they’re like ‘what the fuck are you doing here?’
SM: He’s like ‘that’s me on the wall!’
GM: They realised everyone loves Klaus in season one. So surely if he ever started a cult it would be the most popular cult in the world…like a mixture of Jesus Christ and Charles Manson.
SM: Yes, very much Charles Manson vibes. I like it in the second series because he does a lot of stuff with the dead more, but the dead is just Ben. Just fucking Ben helping him out. In one bit he shows off he can levitating but it’s just Ben lifting him up; his dead brother who no-one can see is holding him and is like ‘I’m tired, can I please put you down now?’ I like stuff like that.
GM: And then he learns that, uh, he can inhabit other people or have other people inhabit him. So Ben actually gets to talk to his family for the first time in twenty years-
SM: And the girl he fancies. Because obviously that’s the first thing he does.
GM: Oh yeah. Well it’s the 60s, isn’t it?
SM: It’s the 60s…
GM: And it turns out Klaus has already slept with her…
SM: Yes! Ben’s like ‘can we hold hands and lay in the dirt?’ and she’s like ‘do you want to have a threesome like we did yesterday?’ and he’s like ‘WHAT? WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BROTHER?’ Then naturally at the end of the second season, Vanya creates the end of the world again!
GM: Mmhmm. I mean, they’ve done it twice, they can’t do it a third time.
SM: No, if they do it again I’ll be really cross. I will write to Gerard Way and say ‘excuse me…do you have any other endings?’
GM: Well it’s not his fault!
SM: It’s not but I feel like he’d like to receive a letter…
GM: The same way that Robert Sheehan would like some company on Thursdays…
SM: Exactly, I would love to hang out with you on Thursdays Robert Sheehan if you are free on Thursday you are free to hang out with me on Thursday.
GM: So it’s not confirmed yet whether season 3’s happening but it’s a safe bet.
SM: Yeah, 100%.
GM: It’s a big show, people love it. It was constantly in the Top 10 list on Netflix when it first came out. People online have then gone back to read the comics and blah blah blah, the comics are also back running again. Do you think there’s a way The Umbrella Academy could distance itself and stop itself from becoming too n-normal’s a bad word but-
GM: Yeah. It needs to stay niche, doesn’t it?
GM: In order to continue, anyway.
SM: But it also needs to be on Netflix to be popular and then not be so niche that people drop off if it becomes too weird like the comics.
GM: What do you think they should do to keep the interest up for season three because if this is the way that it works and season two is the ‘peak’, how could the show keeps its grip on its audience?
SM: Obviously they’ve brought back Ben and they’ve introduced new characters which I think is already a good sign, because, well – it could be a good or bad sign. I think if you introduce too many characters at the same time it can become very overwhelming but if they do it in a clever way it’s fine. So with Hargreaves now being still alive, I think they’ll discover who he really is, why he’s an alien with a fish head – well, it’s kind of like a fish head?
GM: I’d say it’s rather fishy, yeah.
SM: It’s got gills. I’m gonna say it’s a fish head. Discover who Hargreaves is, why he came here, where he’s going, what’s he doing. What universe they’re in now and if they’re in any more danger than they have been because they keep ending the world again and again.
GM: Yes, don’t do the end of the world thing again.
SM: Ooh! Ooh! Okay…so! I think a way to make it really cool would be to have the original Umbrella Academy and the new one team up and have an ultimate fighting battle-
GM: To stop the world ending?
SM: No no no, against the race of Hargreaves’.
GM: Ah, okay…
SM: A whole fleet/army of Hargreaves’ race then comes to Earth after they learn about the experiments he’s been doing.
GM: Do you think they’d be on Hargreaves’ side? Because even though he’s a bastard I think he kind of likes Earth and kind of likes humans.
SM: Yeah, I think his race would arrive and potentially try and destroy the world.
GM: And this would all be in 2019 again, too.
SM: Yeah, there’s that canon.
GM: It’s very ‘current’ to do the whole superhero thing on TV and film at the moment and it’s…I want to say it’s going to die down but I have no idea.
SM: It definitely won’t. Even if it’s not specifically marketed as a superhero film, I think we as a consumer will always need a villain, an anti-hero, a superhero, whether they’re powerful or not. We’ll always need the good vs. evil.
GM: Yeah. They say that the state of what we watch is very reminiscent of the times we live in. Like you were saying before, post-9/11 everyone went to superheroes because superheroes could have stopped 9/11 very easily. We’re more ingrained in getting angry at individual people online and things like that – I don’t wanna do the whole ‘social media is evil’ thing-
SM: ‘Social media is bad’
GM: Yeah, so we have that and coronavirus, then we’ve got the fact that the president of the free world is the biggest cunt in the world..
SM: Umbrella Academy vs. coronavirus…oh my god.
GM: But do you know what I mean? It just screams that there are things you can do in a comic a lot easier than you can do in a TV show. Obviously with a comic, you’ve got two people working on it as opposed to hundreds and hundreds of people who all have conflicting ideas to the point where the message and content becomes diluted. Someone at some stage is going to stop ideas from getting through because they think they’re very dumb.
SM: I hope not. It’s my favourite series and I possibly haven’t binged a series in the same way as I have done with The Umbrella Academy then forced other people to watch it as well. Especially with my little brother. Literally when we started watching it, that’s when I was messaging you about knowing what my topic for the podcast was. But even Charlie was like ‘well I didn’t see that coming’ especially with The Commission and the assassins and he was like ‘that’s really cool.’ Because the show sounds stupid and it gets sillier, but you believe how silly it is-
GM: Everything has a reason…
SM: You’re like ‘of course he finds a severed eye in the hand of his dead brother and it relates to Vanya’s weird love interest who also wants to be a part of The Umbrella Academy and leads to the end of the world.’ Then in between that there’s spies and assassins, and people who can talk to the dead and a talking monkey! And in the second season it doesn’t take itself seriously that much more, but in the first series it was done really well to be like ‘we know it’s silly but it’s interesting and good.’
GM: When you like a TV show this much, do you think it becomes part of your identity?
SM: I try to not let it be a part of my identity. But I think it still is.
GM: Do you ever find yourself quoting it or thinking about certain characters in day to day situations and things like that? Or is it more a case of ‘I want to let everyone I know know that I like this show.’
SM: I think it’s the latter. That and the fact that I’d like Robert Sheehan to hang out with me on Thursday…
GM: I mean you’ve said it three times so by the laws of Beetlejuice it now has to happen.
SM: It is like Beetlejuice! I, also, really like Beetlejuice. That’s my next topic. But I think stuff like that, if something had a big impact on me as a child, I think it’s more likely to be a part of who I am as an adult. My Chemical Romance was a big part of my teenage years and it’s still kind of big in my adult life. I don’t try and quote them all the time or have any artwork of them but if Lewis puts a song on I’ll ask him to put My Chemical Romance on in the car.
GM: Oh yeah.
SM: If that’s the vibe we’re going with, of course. But I don’t like to admit that it’s part of my personality because it probably is. I see myself in quite a few characters and how they go about things, so I think that’s become quite a big part of me.
GM: Do you think that’s because when someone says something along those lines, in your head it’s almost like we’re told that’s a childish thing to do?
SM: Yeah, I think so. It’s like comic books. The trope in media is that those who like comic books are nerds, the fat comic book guy from The Simpsons. It’s not a cool thing.
SM: Even when I was reading comics, it wasn’t cool and they were literally the only comics I really read, but I felt cool doing it. So it’s probably part of my personality to not be cool but to feel cool doing things.
GM: Would you ever wear Umbrella Academy merch?
SM: I think so. I’d wear like a little pin. There’s only so much you can do with it. I’d just dress as The Handler to be completely honest.
GM: Yeah I can see that. So you’re saying if they brought out a full Umbrella Academy uniform?
SM: Oh I wouldn’t do that, but if there was a ‘how to dress as The Handler’ I would. I’d probably just stick to the pin.
GM: In a sense it means that your passion for it is so ingrained in you that you don’t feel the need to show it externally. You’re very enthusiastic on the inside.
SM: I’m very enthusiastic. I feel like for the longest time people didn’t realise I was a huge Disney fan. I kept that a secret. I’m a fan of Disney but I wouldn’t wear, like, the merch. But I think I’m a bigger fan of The Umbrella Academy…
GM: Do you think it helps that it’s a bit kooky? Because I’d say you’re a little bit eccentric…would you say it matches your ‘brand’?
SM: I’m very much Hargreaves…
SM: No I’m not, I’m definitely The Handler.
GM: I think I’m more Hargreaves to be honest…
SM: You are more Hargreaves, but you’re a lot of Pogo as well. I’m not like The Handler at all, though I’d love to be. Nice but bitchy. But I think I’m just too nice.
GM: Yeah if you’re not bitchy enough you can’t be the CEO of a big time-travelling business.
SM: I’m definitely not the CEO of a big time-travelling business. I’m more like Vanya. But I don’t want to be like Vanya…
GM: And that’s the third time you’ve dissed Vanya so I think that’s a good place to end things!
SM: You know where else is a good place to end things? Robert Sheehan can you please hang out with me on Thursday?
GM: If Robert Sheehan were to ask how to find you on Twitter or Instagram or whatever how could he do that?
SM: They can find me on Instagram @BruisedPeachy because I bruise like a little peach. I also make earrings and various resin art things and that’s over @ScarlettMadeEarrings on Instagram and Facebook.
GM: Scarlett thank you so much for coming on.
SM: Thanks for having me!
GM: It’s been lovely. And as we always say here…BYE!
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I know it feels like we can all breathe a sigh of relief and that for the first time in four years things might make a change for the better, but from Joe Biden's four pillars of change we can still fall down a massive rabbit hole. So pick something, anything, and take 10 minutes out of your day to dig deeper and prove the idiots who are always loudest in conversation wrong.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the population, with America breaking their diagnosis records daily. Here in the UK, despite a second national lockdown, the influx of idiots who refuse to wear masks and chant anti-lockdown slogans are building in numbers. With a furlough scheme in place until March, this second lockdown seems to merely be a test to see if we could be allowed to spend the holidays with others - and there's no doubt in my mind that we've failed that test.
Both the BlackLivesMatter movements and protests across Africa continue the fight to abolish Racism, gender violence, rape and child trafficking. What about the mass shooting in Kabul last week, where dozens of students' lives were cut short for no reason?
For more info of the countless events going on across the continent, please click here:
I don't want to flood what is a time of relief for many with extra reminders of atrocities, but it's important to always stay up to date. Even the lesser of two evils is still capable of evil, remember. But for now...well done, America.
For extra information on global causes/events - this carrd still seems to be updated regularly!
Thank you for reading/listening
Stay safe everyone
See you next week.