Fans of The Umbrella Academy may have noticed the lack of cell phones — or any mobile devices, for that matter — in the first season of the Netflix series. That was a calculated move by the show’s creator, Steve Blackman. Here’s why you’ll never see a cell phone in The Umbrella Academy.
‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 1
The Umbrella Academy series is based on the award-winning graphic novel by Gerard Way. It tells the tale of an estranged family of superheroes who are reunited when they learn about the impending apocalypse.
In season 1, we meet Luther “Spaceboy” (Tom Hopper), Diego “The Kraken” (David Castañeda), Allison “The Rumor” (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus “The Séance” (Robert Sheehan), and “Number Five” (Aidan Gallagher). The seventh sibling, Vanya (Ellen Page), goes by “Number Seven” until she discovers her powers as “The White Violin” and becomes the villain of the season.
As all good shows do, The Umbrella Academy Season 1 ended with a cliff-hanger. Number Five took his family back in time to stop the impending apocalypse, but fans are eager to learn where in time the Hargreeves children went.
Why there are no cell phones in ‘The Umbrella Academy’ universe
Eagle-eyed fans noticed that cell phones were nowhere to be found in the first season of The Umbrella Academy — but why? “Truth is, we want it to feel like Children of Men a little bit,” showrunner Blackman told Slashfilm. “I don’t mean the bleakness of Children of Men, but to respect the world. So the viewers are watching, they may or may not notice that I’ve eliminated certain pieces of technology. 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.” Blackman’s elimination of cell phones was one way the series achieved that.
Plus, the lack of cell phones in the universe that is The Umbrella Academy helps elevate the suspension of disbelief. If any of the Hargreeves kids had access to a mobile device, a simple call would have prevented the end of the world — and many of the other problems presented in season 1’s plot.
It’s probably a good thing ‘The Umbrella Academy’ doesn’t feature phones
In a way, The Umbrella Academy creators were wise to avoid the use of cell phones in their production. Technology companies like Apple and Samsung are cautious about how their products are used in movies and television series. Apple is so dedicated to their brand image that they won’t let villains be filmed with iPhones.
While Apple will allow the use of iPhones in movies, it has to be on their terms. “Bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera,” Rian Johnson, director of films like Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out explained. For mystery movie fans, this small detail can help you figure out who the bad guy is before the movie ends.
Blackman’s exclusion of cell phones may have been more tactical than he originally planned. In doing so, it was harder for audiences to recognize who the true villain was!