A Series Of Unfortunate Events On Netflix Is What Every Adaptation Should Strive For

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

If you’re going to adapt a series of novels onto the screen, it must be done through either a series of films or a series of shows. Sadly, this is so rarely done properly, and the results can be catastrophic. Fortunately, A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix got it so right that the series is now a masterpiece template all future adaptations should follow. 

A Series For All Ages

I started reading both the Harry Potter books and the Lemony Snicket books to my kids at the same time. We would alternate books, finishing a book, watching the movie, and then moving to the alternate book and watching the show. It was a whirlwind of a year in literature to say the least. While the Harry Potter films are good, A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix is epic. 

The Series Captures The Depth Of The Novels

What’s the difference? Well, you can only cram so much of a novel into a movie, and some of the Harry Potter books are so long and involved that they deserve to be an entire six or seven-episode series on their own.

What JK Rowling did with the books was nothing short of… well… magic. But what the writers and directors did with the movies was cute and fun. It fell short of the genuine enchantment in the books. In contrast, because of the way A Series of Unfortunate Events was done on Netflix, the emotion and depth came through much better. 

Inspired By Roal Dahl

Daniel Handler, AKA Lemony Snicket, has said in interviews that he loves writing this Roald Dahl type of dark children’s literature because kids are already afraid. He says we pander to them when we tell them there’s “nothing to be afraid of.” His books come across as real, often intense, and even scary, but they also include critical relationships, perseverance, and an emphasis on figuring things out with what you have. A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix manages to capture all of this perfectly on screen. 

A Tale Of Orphans

For those who don’t know, the book series is narrated by Lemony Snicket, a man longing for his lost love, Beatrice, and telling a story of three orphaned children, Violet, Klause, and Sunny Baudelaire. When A Series of Unfortunate Events opens, both in the books and on Netflix, we find the three children, 14, 12, and 1, respectively, at the beach, enjoying themselves, when a man arrives from out of the mist to tell them their parents have perished in a house fire that burned down their entire house. 

Every Season Has A New Caretaker

The man turns out to be their family banker, Mr. Poe, who has an excessive cough that seems to never go away. He’s in charge of the children’s sizable inheritance and of whom the children will go to live with. It turns out their parents have several family friends and distant relatives with whom the children can stay, and each book or show in A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix involves the kids heading off to stay with a new relative. 

It changes with every book and each two-part episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix because there is also the dark figure of Count Olaf, a man determined to adopt the kids, kill them, and take their fortune for himself. To accomplish this, he first tries to marry Violet. Then, he proceeds to murder each relative or family friend they go to live with. When they run out of relatives, they end up on the run, taking refuge where they can —- in hospitals, in villages, in carnivals, and in hotels, among other locations. 

Streaming Only On Netflix


What makes the streaming series so great is that the actors perfectly portray the characters, including Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf and Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, who narrates throughout. Furthermore, A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix breaks each rather short book into two episodes that last around an hour. This approach allows the viewer to dig into the full backstory of the books, the mysterious organization the Baudelaire parents were part of, the V.F.D., and critical questions about good, bad, and how to maintain a moral compass in an increasingly immoral world. 

I cannot rave enough about these books or A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. It’s satirical, sarcastic, heartwarming, and educational in so many ways. And it is so much better than the Jim Carrey movie they tried to make years ago. I encourage you to stream it, with or without your kids, as soon as possible. You’ll surely find yourself binge-watching all 25 episodes.