Disclaimer: I wrote most of this before a certain someone ended up causing Elliot Page to trend on Twitter with some horrific comments. We aren’t going to talk about that instead we’re just going to talk about Elliot’s performance, Viktor and some spoiler-free/lite review content for The Umbrella Academy Season 3. You can also read this piece submitted by one of our contributors about Elliot and Trans Joy.
I wrote about Elliot Page’s coming out for Indy Voices way back when, celebrating him and showing my love and support. Not least due to the immediate transphobic backlash he faced as a result of it. Including from fans of The Umbrella Academy who expressed ‘concerns’ over the idea of an on-screen transition for the character.
At the time I said that an on-screen transition would be by far the least weird thing about the show and now in hindsight I was right. Because to me the way they handled Elliot and therefore Viktor’s coming out was just really sweet and pretty authentic. It felt so natural and I guess that’s just because… well, it was.
One thing I want to touch on is the fact that the show didn’t at all try to lend any creedence or airtime to transphobia. If you look at almost any other media involving a trans character (and often this applies to all LGBTQIA+ characters), it’s not long before there will be the obvious queerphobic plotline. Usually a family member or close friend rejecting our queer character at first but eventually learning to understand differences and embrace each other despite them! You know the drill.
They just… didn’t do that here. It was nice and reminded me of my time watching Our Flag Means Death recently. (Which I’m also happy to talk about if you like this piece, drop a comment below/on Twitter!) Queerness isn’t portrayed as abnormal, its just part of the world and everyone is just okay with that because why wouldn’t they be?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand and get why there are shows which opt to include queerphobic plotlines as a sort of PSA for why LGBTQIA+ people deserve basic dignity and respect. But sometimes I don’t want to watch a film or TV show where the real-life fight for equality isnt over. Much like how media allows other people escapism; I too, want to be able to escape the crushing realities of the rise in anti-trans violence around the world.
As for how Viktor’s family handle his coming out, it’s pretty sweet. He gets a hair-cut, says his name is Viktor and there’s a little bit of cliché “this is how I’ve always felt” stuff but then that’s it. The rest of the show everyone is just onboard from the moment they find out. Minus a little bit of fumbling with Luther being very in-character and just trying his best by offering to throw Viktor a party to show they love and support him. Wholesome.
Elliot himself has given interviews praising the portrayal too, also citing the authenticity of having actually lived the experiences of friends and family trying to get things right but not super knowing how. You can really tell a lot of love was put into this by the writing team, Steve Blackman and Elliot Page too.
On the whole I didn’t find the season as engaging as I did others and there was an attempted rape plotline that I feel was poorly managed by being glossed over and forgotten about. Klaus and Diego, (Robert Sheehan and David Castañeda respectively,) had some really good story arcs and cool revelations. Luther (Tom Hopper) is just totally adorable this season. Five (Aidan Gallagher) took a bit of a backseat for retirement after featuring so prominently in previous seasons. It was nice to see Ben (Justin H. Min) more but I (and the rest of the characters, clearly!) miss old Ben and then there’s Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman).
I loved her in previous seasons of The Umbrella Academy, I would even say she was my favourite. She’s had some of the strongest plotlines and most challenging issues to deal with but has come out swinging each time. This season feels like a real departure from the Allison we know. Which is (in some respects) understandable given everything that’s happened after landing in The Sparrow Academy, but in others it has really soured my view on her.
Speaking of The Sparrows, they’re pretty cool. I liked them and I can’t really say much more about them without drifting into spoiler territory. I can say I think the reason they exist instead of The Umbrella Academy is very cool and so in-character for the cold-hearted and calculated Reginald Hargeeves (Colm Feore) to have made. With everything else surrounding Reginald also being just really great writing, in my opinion.
The standout character for me this season has to be Stanley (Javon Walton). You’ll meet him in episode one. He’s just so delightful and really enhances the characters he’s there to support. Though again, I can’t go any more into detail about that without risking spoilers. You’ll just have to watch the show!
Overall though I had a good time watching this season and I think if you liked previous seasons you will too. Though I do have to add that Netflix has come under fire for transphobia repeatedly across the last few years. The company has repeatedly paid millions to comedians who have gone on to make large swathes of their sets just anti-LGBTQIA+ and specifically anti-trans garbage, the latest being Ricky Gervais’ SuperNature. Trans staff have even reportedly faced consequences for speaking out against Netflix for this and Netflix higher-ups have repeatedly defended the decision to platform transphobia in this way.
All of which makes it so annoying to praise the show for its beautiful and authentic take on transition in The Umbrella Academy. The price you have to pay for that drop of sweetness isn’t worth the sour taste a whole Netflix subscription leaves in one’s mouth right now.
Anyway remember when I mentioned a pirate show, you know, about piracy? What a weird thing to have done. Anyway, I can’t wait for Season 4 of The Umbrella Academy and all that beautiful trans joy to grace our screens once again. Thank you Viktor and thank you Elliot.