A Series of Unfortunate Events: Incompetent Adults

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Incompetent Adults

it is a nice day I have some very bad news for you children your parents have perished in a terrible fire viewers may rejoice to find themselves back in the land of dark elaborate children's fantasy with Netflix's Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events based on the book by Daniel handler as the precocious Baudelaire orphans flee the grotesque villain Count Olaf the limited adults around them prove absurdly unhelpful often catapulting the children into further danger the series of oak Salman Rushdie's observation about The Wizard of Oz that the film's driving force is the quote inadequacy of adults even if good adults and how the weakness of grown-ups forces children to take control of their own destinies looking closer at unfortunate events and the genre of dark children's stories since Oz we notice a number of common features that might seem surprising incompetent and unreliable adults who stubbornly refuse to ever listen to children surrogate families and friends who substitute for the actual family bond weird wild wacky worlds that are vibrant and fun but also disconcerting real darkness and danger including a wicked potentially world destroying villain that the child must somehow vanquish and ultimately the need for children to grow stronger by realizing they can't depend on these disappointing adults the children in the story or watching or reading it must overcome their fears of inadequacy slay the Beast and become whole self-sufficient beings parole for the madman we can't stay with struck loss across the face I'm sorry you don't have a good first impression of him at the beginning of each episode narrator Lemony Snicket played by Patrick Warburton exhorts viewers to I beg you to turn this program off now imagine this story has a happy ending 'we shall wreck your evening your life and your day every single episode is nothing like it we can't say we haven't been warned but like kids being told no we immediately want to do exactly what we're told not to do so we keep watching naively hoping for a happy ending even though we're told this is not going to happen no shoes oh no Sam is also chosen as this forbidding adult figure Snicket turns us into the kids even if we're actually adult viewers we root for the wonderful children violet Klaus and baby Sonny appalled by the terrible adults causing mischief and disaster all around them I have my Star reporter write an article for the front page so that everyone will know your home was destroyed in your orphans now the children have been orphaned by a fire in the family mansion thus the first way they've been abandoned by adults is literal and physical their parents are dead and gone but as I believe mr. Poe has explained to you I can act loco parentis e in loco parentis poco de la renta in loco parentis the point is I can order you to participate and you must obey obvious crude unintelligent villain Count Olaf barely bothers to disguise his goal of stealing the Baudelaire fortune or enormous fortune who else's our apocalypse in such a large amount I'm handsome and I'm talented and Olaf and his theatrical troupe of comically vile hench persons are hardly evil masterminds or even very good at what they do yet this doesn't stop Olaf from repeatedly gaining guardianship over the children because this world of adults is so exceedingly blind and incompetent he's only three miles away and your parents will was very specific about you being raised by your closest living relative if you really think that's what the closest little relatively most strikingly the adult world refuses to ever listen to the children and their frustration is one that many real kids can identify with can't you see mr. Poe that's Count Olaf natural scene this is not the sea captain this is how NOLA we've already told you captain chairman sound Olaf in the sky no then I know you three have had some terrible experiences but you mustn't start letting your imaginations get the best of you remember when you were staying with uncle Monty you were convinced that his assistant de fondo was actually Count Olaf in disguise Tufano was actually Count Olaf in disguise mr. Poe the banker who appoints guardians for the children epitomizes the incompetent adult though I may be in line for promotion so that's how you spell for promotion PR om might be our loss those orphans are they do promotion right now adults like Poe never learn from or take responsibility for their mistakes nobody came from you put us in his care and are easily brainwashed by the most flimsy disguises or explanations as long as they use adult sounding language and formats the Baudelaires do attract some would be friendly sold kind lonely neighbor justice Strauss heroic herpetologist uncle Monty and fragile on Josephine but Olaf can manipulate all of them by tapping into their delusions and unfulfilled desires whereas the Baudelaire kids fee without delusion like the kids in Narnia the Baudelaires resemble adults in miniature with excellent ability hours a month while the adults are far more childlike than the children Olaf can barely spell or speak grammatically whereas the Baudelaire kids speak with the precision of professors you don't know the difference between figuratively literally do you what emerges embodied by po is an inverted world in which the smartest and most reliable people are three young children on one level this inverted world in which adults are stupid and children are smart is simply a fun storytelling technique it's an enjoyable reversal for viewers who are constantly being told the opposite that kids don't know anything I'm smart you're dumb I'm big you're little I'm right you're wrong and there's nothing you can do about it even adult viewer is all too aware that they don't know everything find a cathartic to see their flawed an artificial grown-up world so exuberantly mocked in a child's eye on another level this world creates a void against which the children can grow and shine instead of being spoiled by parental love and health thus this miserable world which gives them nothing at least provides them with the opportunity to become fine human beings on their own back in 1939 young Dorothy Gale of Kansas also found her adults frustrating and unfair but even in Oz when Dorothy and friends arrived at the brilliant green Emerald City the wizard they've been seeking turns out to be yet another incompetent adult in unfortunate events a running plot involves a pair of people we think are the returning not dead Baudelaire parents but spoiler alert this turns out to be a red herring in both stories we hold out hope that some good and dependable adults will finally save the children from this nightmare but the stories reject this possibility apart from a few helpers with limited power the children are really on their own they must rescue themselves the goal Dallaire children are a family unit unto themselves they learn to parent each other the children direct comfort and look out for one another many children's stories provide a new band of companions the stand-in family group becomes a substitute for the disappointing real family a learning mechanism for bonding and working together with peers and on the symbolic or figurative level the companions especially animal or enchanted companions can represent pieces of a child's self which need actualization and growth Harry Potter meets Hermione who excels in learning and intelligence and Ron who embodies loyalty and a generous beerus harry grows over the years largely thanks to internalizing these qualities from his best friends the Dark Materials trilogy goes further with the metaphor of the companion as missing parts of the child self the demon here is literally the child's soul externalized we realize the journey and odds is really a journey inward the wizard final lesson is that all the treasures they seek are inside themselves all along you've always had the power to go back to Kenton just as any child might learn she really does possess all the brains hard courage and the inner compass she needs oz gives children the advice follow the yellow brick road sticking to the right path with your friends will eventually get you to your destination unfortunate events takes place somewhere not now and not here both more beautiful and more dreadful than our world the production design of the show creates the feeling of a storybook come to life the vibrant colors and dimensionality of the children themselves are alive against the frequently drab flat backdrop they're forced to inhabit the interplay of bright and drive and around three-dimensional shapes against flatness visually embodies this clash of the child's point of view or a live noble smart and right and the dead and adult point of view unfortunate events takes after odds in this juxtaposition of black and white sepia or gray tones and jewel tone primary colors color represents a child's process of awakening to a world of dreams that somehow more real than waking life the world is scary and we should be afraid no matter where we go can also be there no matter who we tell no one will listen to us there is nowhere safe for no Guardian could help us with angular pointy images and the wild use of colour Alice's mad Wonderland fills us with unease as much as excitement as the darkness is introduced the term young adult becomes appropriate these stories introduce a child to adult realities like the existence of evil the difficulty of immediately telling villains from friends and the complexity of the world which is both friendly and hostile in myriad even though it can be hard to identify good from bad at first these stories arrive at more extreme villains and heroes or evils and goods in battle with each other the heroes of these fantasies like the unfortunate children tend to be young and small the villains all possess the will to power terrifying physical or magical strength fight and hatred for the races they rule and the determination to extinguish all opponents Count Olaf is not exactly a destroyer of worlds yet he uses his seemingly puny talents to fool and conquer this messed-up incompetent adult world and he matches those others in his purely evil intention the pure evil represents a worldview of hate and selfishness that the children must vanquish and thus defeat the enemy within oneself yes there's no happy ending not here not now trailers also rooms in many of these stories the alternate weird world is temporary the children return as better more grown people to their original yet altered real world in unfortunate events the Baudelaires wish very much to escape but they're trapped in this nightmare at least for the foreseeable future in the threshold into young adulthood children realized that they're entering a flawed world growing up means becoming strong enough to survive in this world that's harsh and not fair and so we reluctantly learn to expect the worst whatever ending this Lemony Snicket adaptation finally lands on if the predecessors of dark children's fantasy have taught us anything it's that the answer won't lie in the adults the children must rely on themselves and their peers to reach their fullest potential in a world that continues to disappoint we can survive Olaf Showtime

36 thoughts on “A Series of Unfortunate Events: Incompetent Adults


  2. 1:17 No, Narnia's actually the opposite because the kids realize that they need to depend on Aslan. That Stone Table scene is actually the epitome of how Aslan accomplishes what Edmund couldn't.

  3. We live in a world where people like Nigel Farage (who arguably has about the same IQ as Count Olaf) can trick the United Kingdom into Brexit, while children are literally protesting to stop climate change.

    This shit is real y'all.

  4. What I always loved about A Series of Unfortunate Events – both the book and the television series – is that, to me it was always a blatant allegory for childhood through the eyes of children. Sure, sometimes it can be pleasant, and sometimes kids get a chance to be sheltered before facing the "real world" but more often than not, children are confronted with life's struggles and problems and dangers (in varying degrees) at a young age. And it can feel annoying for adults to act like they know everything when they – in many ways – know just as little about dealing with the world's darkness. They talk down to kids, and they don't recognize that, just because children don't necessarily have the complex vocabularies to express their feelings, that doesn't mean that they are not just as complex and justified as those of adults. Adults will also tell kids to just "enjoy being kids" when in reality, if being a kid means being innocent and ignoring what they consider to be "adult" problems, that door of opportunity has been closed for a long time. And the rare few that do get it are often lost or distant. As a result, children become shockingly dependent on themselves, especially in their mental an emotional development, probably far more than adults realize. ASoUE displays this perfectly. I get why you compare it to other children's fantasy works, but ASoUE is so much more than that because of its extreme nature. It is a piece of satire, exaggerating the dangers, and the adult stupidity and ignorance to a degree that is beyond believable in order to make all of the aforementioned points very clear. As they say distinctly to all of those ignorant adults in the song at the end of Season 1, "You may think that three children would lead pleasant lives, but that's not how the story goes."

  5. "Look away" did work after watching most of the season. I found the series great as a plot and world, however it definitely has some flaws. There are plenty of videos on this out there able to explain what these flaws are, which for me personally totally hit it on the nail. They were so close to making a masterpiece that I am honestly so dissapointed that it's just decent instead of great. I am still going to finish it with my new lesser expectations

  6. Really was disappointed that Mr. Poe didn't "choke" on his own ignorance. It gave me a smile and a little excitement every time he coughs almost near to death. 100% a threat to the fictional character Mr. Poe I guarantee.

  7. The only really capable adults in this series were the ones actively in the good VFD (Kit, Jacquelyn, Jacques). Even though they die, they did more for the kids and believed them when the other adults didn’t. Still, it’s borderline hilarious how people don’t recognize Olaf in his ridiculous disguises. 😂🤦🏻‍♀️

  8. I actually understand olaf and where he's coming from and agree with him when he says there are no good and noble people in the world

  9. I like that the only non-incompetent characters are the Baudelaires, the VFD volunteers, and Count Olaf . In most cases the bad guy is strong but dumb. In A Series of Unfortunate Events he is actually really smart and it is mostly not his fault (but his henchpeople's) for loosing the Baudelaires again. You can see that when * SPOILER ALERT * everyone leaves him, he actually succeeds and captures them.

  10. the book made me feel so furious like that's it???? That's the ending??? There's probably a deep meaning to it but I felt eally underwhelmed. The show made me remember all those infuriating scenes but I still love it damn

  11. Well there's no Happy Endings not here and not now this tale is all sorrows and woes you might dream that justice and peace win the day but that's not how the story goes

  12. Just to clarify, Olaf may not necessarily be a DESTROYER of worlds, but he is most definitely a SHAPER of worlds, at least in the context of the story.

  13. Very interesting take on this phenomenon.
    In Harry Potter it's true that his legal guardians are incompetent, but he does have the luxury of encountering several other adults who take care of him and teach him what he needs to know. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Dumbledore, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Hagrid etc.

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