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Can you watch the Netflix original with the kids?

The Umbrella Academy is rated TV-14 according to IMDb. The superhero soiree, boasting mature themes, intricate characterization, and action sequences to the tune of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” does away with superhero tropes, and presents a band of misfit saviors instead.

'The Umbrella Academy' Cast
‘The Umbrella Academy’ Cast | Getty Images

While the show is often funny and light, it retains dark and somber moments as well. Whether or not this one is suitable for children comes down to factors outside of the normal considerations: sex, nudity, crude language, etc.

The action sequences are not gory, albeit there is a torture scene (or two) that some may find a bit unsettling. Romance plots are PG-13 at best, and focus on the emotions and reactions to physical intimacy, as opposed to the act itself. And as for crude language, the worst of the fancy four-letter words will not be spewing out of the characters’ mouths; however, other swear words are used frequently.

Though evading all the facets that lead to an immediate R-rating, there are aspects to be aware of before watching this one with the kids.  

Drugs and danger in ‘The Umbrella Academy’

In The Umbrella Academy, one of the seven superhero siblings, Klaus, is a drug addict. As part of his character development, he must fight through withdrawal symptoms and resist the urge to go back to his old ways.

Klaus, on the surface, is a happy-go-lucky character possessing a sharp wit and a darkly gothic sense of humor. However, underneath, he harbors suppressed childhood traumas and copes with feelings of inadequacy.

Klaus takes drugs to escape the confines of his battered brain. If this theme seems too mature, or you’re not quite ready to explain drug addiction, be wary. While a pre-teen may be able to handle this, the plotline does seem a little too intense for children under twelve.

Before jumping to conclusions, understand that the show approaches this plotline delicately; Klaus is never shown “shooting up,” maniacally shaking, or pleading for a fix with bulging eyes and veins. Because he is only one of the main characters, the creators can identify and illustrate the issue’s severity – as part of his growth – without harboring on it in a melodramatic fashion.

In other ways, Klaus can be seen as a role model, as he overcomes a personal struggle to protect his family (and help save the world).

The Hargreeves appreciate a little sexual innuendo

While the two romantic scenes do not show any nudity, as one cuts away as a girl removes her shirt and the other only implies sex through two people waking up under the sheets together, these aren’t the scenes of any concern.

The phrase “hard-on” is used while one sibling ties up Klaus (at Klaus’s request), and it becomes clear that Klaus gravitates towards the sexually deviant. Klaus also enjoys asphyxiation in one torture scene (and it shows…physically).

The characters makes jokes surrounding Luther, AKA Spaceboy, and his sexual interactions with a stranger from a nightclub. When it comes to sexual innuendo, there is plenty of it in The Umbrella Academy; however, it’s likely to fly right over most kids’ heads, so how much it matters is for you to decide.

‘The Umbrella Academy’ is dark

Putting aside any immediate concerns – in terms of what is said or shown on screen – another major area of concern lies in the show’s thematic undertones. This show is not for the light of heart.

The Umbrella Academy presents seven siblings who have all grown apart; each one harbors intense emotional pain from a torturous childhood (torture specifically designed on the basis of their individual powers).

One mother cannot see her daughter because she lost custody. Another sibling, after years of isolation, will risk his life for a female mannequin he discovered in the post-apocalyptic world. And yet another, has never been with a woman because he’s always been in love with one of his adopted siblings. And the list goes on.

The show’s TV-14 rating does seem appropriate; the themes are too mature for young children, but most teenagers – in and out of high school – will be familiar with the territories traversed in the show…by their second week of freshman year.