‘The Umbrella Academy’: Where and When Does the Series Take Place?

Many fans of The Umbrella Academy are unclear about where and when the Netflix series takes place. According to the creators of the series, that’s the way fans are supposed to feel.

'The Umbrella Academy' setting
Ellen Page, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Aidan Gallagher, Tom Hopper, Robert Sheehan, Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton | Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

‘The Umbrella Academy’ puts the apocalypse in a believable setting

At its core, the Netflix series is about the fast-approaching end of the world. While an apocalyptic future might seem a bit far-fetched, the show’s backdrop is a little too believable — aside from Luther Hargreeve’s (Tom Hopper) silver bullet on the Moon (maybe). The show casts Reginald Hargreeves’ (Colm Feore) adopted children in a typical urban setting feels familiar to many viewers.

How old are the Hargreeves children? 

In the story, 43 infants were born on Oct. 1, 1989, to women around the world who were seemingly never pregnant. Years later, the Hargreeves children appear as adults, sans Number Five, whose altered appearance is the result of a time-traveling mishap.

Regardless, it has been some time since the children have been, well — children. When they return to the academy to investigate their father’s death, it’s unclear how old the Hargreeves are in age. It’s also unclear what year the series takes place — another careful move on behalf of showrunners. The series came out in February 2019, leaving many fans assuming the story is set in that year. This makes the Hargreeves 29-years-old. However, their age is never officially confirmed. 

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through thick and thin and space and time.

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‘The Umbrella Academy’s timeframe and setting are supposed to be ambiguous 

The visual aesthetic in The Umbrella Academy is the vision of My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and illustrator Gabriel Bá. Mark Worthington, the former production designer for the series, brought their pages to life in a way that intentionally felt familiar without looking like anything viewers had ever seen. 

Take the doughnut shop Griddy’s, for example. The unassuming restaurant serves as an essential backdrop for the series because it’s so unassuming. Worthington explained how everything from the neon sign to the linoleum floors and the glass doughnut cases were a conscious choice. In this way, the doughnut shop fits right into the fictional world while remaining familiar to viewers. “I think of it as an alternate, adjacent world,” Worthington told Looper. “[Some] things are a bit more analog, but other things are more advanced. You’re not supposed to know.” 

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Hate to ruin a perfectly good school uniform.

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Showrunner Steve Blackman told Slashfilm The Umbrella Academy is meant to “feel like Children of Men a little bit.” For Blackman, that doesn’t necessarily mean the bleakness found in the dystopian sci-fi thriller. He merely means Children of Men inspired The Umbrella Academy‘s backdrop. “[When] viewers are watching, they may or may not notice that I’ve eliminated certain pieces of technology,” he continued. “It’s supposed to be now, contemporary, but certain things are slightly different. So I suppose you could say we’re in a little bit of an alternate universe, but I want it to feel very, very subtle.”

Season 2 might provide more clarity 

Fans have long been theorizing where season 2 of The Umbrella Academy will take place. Considering the many clues dropped on social media, the consensus is that the storyline falls somewhere in the 1960s. Perhaps a flashback or a small line of dialogue will give fans more clarity about where — or when — season 1 took place. Fans will have to wait until July 31 to find out.