Regrettably, you have likely heard that Netflix is releasing a show today called A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you are lucky enough, you have never heard of this story, and have lived your life blissfully unaware of this tale of misery and woe. If, however, you are now on the precipice of making the grim mistake to watch this show, we thought it best to prepare you for what’s to come.
Enclosed are 13 facts about A Series of Unfortunate Events, accompanied by more pleasant things to distract you from the terrible truths ahead.
1) It is comedy/adventure series about three intelligent children outsmarting a villainous old man
Beginning publishing in 1999 (but preferably not at all), the A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the lives of the three Baudelaire children after their parents died in a terrible fire. Each book chronicles a different location at which they attempt to feel safe before being invariably driven out by Count Olaf, a vile man seeking to steal their inheritance. Each of the three children possesses a different type of cleverness, and they pool their gifts to outsmart a man that seems to have all of society rigged against them.
The story is told from the perspective of one of the book’s characters, Lemony Snicket, who is a neurotic, traumatized man obsessed with investigating and reporting on the Baudelaires’ suffering for mysterious reasons. Perhaps you should keep the story out of your perspective all together.
As you can see, it’s dreadful from the very start. Please watch this video instead of reading further.
2) The books are a blend of comedy, tragedy, and adventure
The core of the books is their blend of tragedy and comedy. While the situations affecting the Baudelaires are depressing and grim, the story is intentionally told in a deliberately over the top manner that is so extreme it becomes hard to take the books seriously. The troubles the Baudelaires face often cartoonish, such as the newborn baby of the family being forced to be a receptionist, or the children’s wardrobe being replaced with tacky suits that are too large for them. Additionally, the narrator, Lemony Snicket, is depicted as a very bad writer, often interrupting his own story for rambling asides or to define words inaccurately. Much of the humor comes from how poorly he tells the story.
This being said, the books are not without sincere grief, with many moments being genuine gut punches that will linger long after reading. Characters very frequently die, hope is snatched away, and key moments of unfair cruelty are told directly and without humor.
3) They are a crash course in morality, philosophy, and how societal structures intersect with these topics
The books begin as a simple children’s story of three heroic children defeating one evil man, but over time, the books begin to add tweaks and complexities to this that discuss the natures of Good, of Evil, and how society interacts with both. The children learn about how the legal system can be corrupt and fail good people, how society can become bigoted or indifferent to the suffering of others, and even economic oppression and the dangers of unchecked capitalism. Each of these failings of society cause the children grief and woe in different ways. As the books continue on, the Baudelaires are also forced to struggle with increasingly complex moral conundrums, including whether committing the same crimes as Count Olaf in order to stop Count Olaf is a necessary evil, or simply a wickedness that brings them down to his level. The situations become more and more complicated each book, ultimately culminating in a moral dilemma that would make even the strongest stomach churn.
Then again, every page of each book would make your stomach churn, which is why we strongly advise reading this article.
Instead of grappling with the impossible dilemma of decency in an indecent world, perhaps you should watch this kitten grapple with yarn instead.
4) A movie came out 13 years ago. Things could have gone better.
In 2004, a movie was created presumably with the intent of being a part of the trend of making multi-movie sagas aimed at younger audiences. While the movie turned a profit and won an Oscar, it didn’t make the money that would justify making it a full fledged movie series. The project was quietly shelved for 13 years, but should have been shelved for 200.
5) The original creative team was reunited for the show.
The movie’s production suffered severely from studio interference, including firing the movie’s director, Barry Sonnenfeld, and the original author, Dan Handler, from the production well after the project had begun. The new series by Netflix has hired back Sonnenfeld and Handler to director and writer, respectively, allowing this to, in effect, be the production team originally intended, telling the story they wanted to tell.
6) Some mysteries are answered, some are not.
Throughout the series, the Baudelaire orphans discover a great many mysteries surrounding their situation, including the strangeness of having never met any of their relatives, and the Eye symbol they keep finding everywhere they go. Subverting expectations, many of the mysteries never reach a full resolution or are sometimes not relevant to the lives of the Baudelaires. Some of the biggest puzzles in the books are unsolved, and fans of the series have continued to debate key moments in the series even now, a full decade after the main story concluded.
The mystery of why you would want to know anymore about Count Olaf remains unsolved to this very day.
Count Olaf’s crimes include murder, arson, fraud, theft, grand theft, and general unpleasantness. (Picture unrelated)
7) Netflix is covering the first four books.
While there are 13 books in the main series, Netflix is dedicated to doing one book every two episodes, bringing the entire series to 26 episodes. The first 9 books (18 episodes) are confirmed, but the final season is undetermined yet. With any luck, they’ll never be made due to lack of viewership.
8) There are 20 books in the Lemony Snicket universe (so far)
In addition to the 13 books telling the story of the Baudelaires, there are two books that expound on the mysteries they face, four books about Lemony Snicket’s childhood, and a book of additional short stories of Snicket’s adventures.
One might say that 20 is too many. They would be incorrect. One is too many.
9) Sunny Baudelaire is your favorite, you just don’t know it yet.
While each Baudelaire child has a gift, Sunny’s is the most straightforward: She loves to bite things with her supernaturally strong teeth. As well, she tends to speak in baby gibberish that her siblings, exclusively, are inexplicably able to understand in perfect nuance. Throughout the series, Sunny’s inclination towards biting, as well as her ability to say things only her brother and sister understand, bring some of the most hilarious moments in the books by far. Despite speaking in shrieks and cooing news, Sunny has some of the most quotable lines in all 13 books.
We promise this video is more entertaining, rewarding, and pleasant than anything that will appear on Netflix tomorrow.
10) Sonnenfeld has experience telling twisted tales on screen.
Barry Sonnenfeld has extensive experience in twisted and weird comedies. His resume includes directing both Addams Family films, Men in Black, and Get Shorty. More than this, he has stated that ASOUE is his favorite childrens’ book series, making this a personal project.
11)The real author, Dan Handler, “killed” Edward Gorey.
The books’ aesthetic and writing style was heavily influenced by Edward Gorey, whom Dan Handler greatly idolized. As a tribute, Handler sent Gorey a copy of his book when it was published. By coincidence, Gorey passed away the same month. Dan Handler has said sarcastically, “I like to think I killed him”.
12) Networks have attempted to adapt the series to be “Happier.”
Although the main concept of the series is that it is a comedy/adventure pretending to be more depressing than it is, virtually every studio before Netflix has attempted to convince the creators to “tone it down” and make the tale more upbeat than it is. The original movie cut several scenes and had the producers try (and fail) to convince the director to tone down how violent Count Olaf was. When Dan Handler pitched the show to TV executives, they would routinely recommend removing the arson and death that are the show’s biggest plot points. Netflix is the first studio that asked Dan Handler to present the story as-is.
She is. She was. She’s dead. It was regrettable.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is available on Netflix right now. As good, decent people, you will of course avoid it at all costs.