A Series of Unfortunate Events: What Netflix Should Get Right


2016 is upon us and, for us geeks, that means new TV shows and movies to look forward to. One of the biggest, but still very secretive, projects that Netflix has been planning is the TV adaptation of the famous book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Daniel Handler. I mean, Lemony Snicket.

According to an interview with Daniel Handler in DailyTexanOnline, Netflix is planning to begin filming the TV series adaptation in Spring 2016. We have re-read the books and even re-watched the 2004 movie adaptation and have come up with some of the things that Netflix needs to do in order to make the adaptation this franchise deserves.

(Slight spoilers from the books… but not really)

Dark comedy

If there is something that made ASOUE special -and yet a bit difficult to explain to others- was its comedic treatments of dark matters such as murder, orphanage and general misfortune. The story that follows the Baudelaire orphans is a dark one, full of tragedy and despair, and yet the author chooses to present its work like a childrens’ book. Lemony Snicket accomplishes that by adding constant reminders on why you should definitely NOT pick up the books (talk about reverse psychology) or even adding ridiculous and funny narrations of unfortunate events, which leads us to the next point.

Presence of a narrator

Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events
One of the best things about the books was the narration by Lemony Snicket, who happens to be a character within the story. These books are not only addicting for the story itself, but also for the way it is presented. A few examples:

People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict“. Or “It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.”

The 2004 movie adaptation did a wonderful job with it. In fact, it was one of my favourite aspects of the movie. Lemony Snicket is not only important because he provides a very unique and entertaining way of following the story, but he also happens to be a character who becomes key later in the story.


Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Nothing puts someone off more than a bad characterization and, sadly, this happens way too often in adaptations. Not even Harry Potter is safe from that. Getting Violet, Klaus and even little Sunny’s personalities is key, but I would also like to have an actual scary, manipulative Count Olaf like the one we had in the books (sorry, Jim Carrey). Same goes for the rest of the cast, many of which we didn’t get to see in the movie.

Explanation on VFD

Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events
It’s understandable that the movie couldn’t adapt the whole story on VFD considering they only had time for the first three books. They did talk some about the fires and the investigation that their parents, uncle Monty and aunt Josephine were doing, but there was no final explanation and we had an open ending instead. They also added the spyglasses to connect all of them to the fires. VFD was not once mentioned, although the initials were seen when Klaus found the first spyglass when visiting their destroyed house.


Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Both the setting and the timeline for the series are unknown, although it does seem like the story takes place in Victorian times. Or at least it takes some inspiration from gothic, neo-victorian aesthetics. The movie picked up this trend and even added some stunning scenery as well as a Tim Burton feel to it. All of these elements helped create an aura of mystery and wonder about the world the Baudelaire children live in. We trust Netflix with this.

Daniel Handler himself is writing the script for the TV series, so we can at least be sure that it’s going to be a faithful adaptation. The only thing that is left to see is how well these 13 books can be adapted to a TV format.

What do you think? Do you have high expectations for this series?

About Author

24-year-old TV journalist. I especialize in fangirling over TV shows and anime. Currently fighting for fan studies to be recognized as a valid academic field.

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