Judaism And A Series of Unfortunate Events
If you were a fan of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books, you need to check out Netflix’s TV show adaptation by the same name. This book series was so popular when I was younger that the inner child in me was ecstatic to see it was being turned into a show. Now that I’ve watched, I’m even more enthralled.
For anyone who doesn’t know about these childhood books, the series follows the lives of three Jewish children, Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and Sunny Baudelaire (Presley Smith, voiced by Tara Strong), who begin the story having just lost their parents to a mysterious house fire. In the aftermath of the fire, they are placed in the care of an evil relative named Count Olaf who attempts to take what little the children have left for his own personal gain. The series consists of 13 books, and each one continues the children’s story as they are shuffled between odd family members they’ve never met and Count Olaf in disguise.
If you’re not much of a reader, have no fear. Now you can see all of these books displayed in TV form. And the best part? There are plenty of Jewish references throughout the show to add a little something for Jewish viewers to connect to.
Although narrated by the pseudonymous Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton), the author of the series is actually Daniel Handler, who is himself a Reform Jew, hence the references. Holidays such as Tu b’Shevat are mentioned as an equivalent of Arbor Day, and words such as “schlep,” “mazel tov” and “L’Chaim” are thrown in the dialogue throughout. The show even includes Jewish music like “Hava Nagila” and references to rabbis and mitzvahs. And these are just some of the references that fill a Jew with pride when heard mentioned.
Although these may seem like small references, if you’re Jewish like me, these references will likely make you giddy. It’s not every day our religion is taken into reference, especially in such well-known pieces, so when it occurs, it is a very exciting moment indeed.
Additionally, the show has, in my opinion, a truly great cast. Neil Patrick Harris stars as the villainous Count Olaf, and he is really given the opportunity to show off his skills as a remarkable actor. The three Baudelaire children are also played by young and impressive actors who are just beginning to explore their abilities on-screen, which is really fun to watch.
Aside from loving all of the references, this show is purely entertaining and a great show to watch if you get a chance to sit down and binge a couple seasons. Not only will you have fun watching and catching the references, but the nostalgia will bring you right back to your childhood. Even if you weren’t as interested in these books as a child, you’ll still enjoy the show. I recommend picking up The Bad Beginning now or even just watching the show without reading the book first. Either way, you’ll be sure to appreciate A Series of Unfortunate Events.