When I was in the fourth grade my teacher sat us down and read The Bad Beginning to us. After she finished the story she had planned to move on to another unrelated book, but we begged her to move on to the next in the series. So my teacher read us The Reptile Room, then we begged for The Wide Window, then The Miserable Mill, then The Austere Academy, and finally The Ersatz Elevator. Then we all moved on to the fifth grade.
Not wanted to leave the story on a cliffhanger I asked for the next books in the series for birthday and Christmas presents. They were some of the first full length novels I read on my own outside of those required for school. The series was wonderfully dark and dealt with real themes like death, loss, and persevering despite obstacles in life. The books didn’t come down to a child’s level, but instead treated kids like they were smart and mature enough to deal with more mature materials or learn new words. To this day I still credit the Series of Unfortunate Events books with my use of the words austere, penultimate, and quagmire.
Like many fans of the series I was very disappointed with 2004’s Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events starring Jim Carrey. The movie awkwardly blended three of the books together taking away from the narrative rise and fall of each individual book and turned the witty comedic style of the books into a goofier approach that matched Jim Carrey’s acting. So when they decided not to make a second film I wasn’t entirely disappointed.
Then Netflix revived my hope for the series by announcing they had picked up the rights to create a Netflix Original.
With actors like Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton along with the creative freedom that comes along with being a Netflix Original, I have faith that this version will be faithful to the books, being able to apply the unique brand of comedy to the materials darker themes. Much to my delight it seems like the show will really play into the “conspiracy theory” undertones that I enjoyed so much about the books. I am sure the online theorizing community will be chomping at the bit.
So grab your commonplace book, tie up your hair with a ribbon, and find something to chew on. Get ready because The Netflix Original Series of Unfortunate Events premieres in the United States January 13th.