“The Umbrella Academy” is for Elliot Page Coming Out With Warmth and Emotion (Column)

Spoiler Notification: Do not read if you have not watched the first two episodes of the 3rd season of “Umbrella Academy”, which is now broadcast on Netflix.

When “The Umbrella Academy” last aired new episodes in July 2020, its star took a different place in culture, with a different name.

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Oscar-nominated artist Eliot Page is by far the highest profile cast member of the series – they all play a family of superheroes who are constantly trying to prevent revelation. And his public revelation that he is a trans man at the end of 2020 brought an enigma to the series as he watched the third season. How could “The Umbrella Academy” make the most of Page’s talent and honor the work she had already done on the show, given the fact that her character, known as Vanya, was performing as a woman for two seasons?

The answer, with a new season starting June 22, is with an impressively, even touchingly low-key approach. “The Umbrella Academy” often expresses its stakes with a sort of rage at every mention after Quentin Tarantino – indeed, its new season begins, after a flashback, with the main characters of the series taking part in an illusory dance battle in Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” – but does not put similar pressure on Page’s character. It is only towards the end of the first episode when, in a confrontation between Page’s character and a hero from a rival group of heroes, this pressure is exerted on the bruise. “What do you really want, Vanya?”, Asks this enemy. The double meaning of the question hangs in the air for viewers who have watched the story of the Page, even when Page answers quickly and accurately.

However, only minutes before cleaning is allowed. that moment is nearing the end of the first episode and within the first five minutes of the second, Page appears to be deliberately wandering in front of a barber shop, stopping in front of a classic hairstyle guide that suggests different male grooming methods. The character enters, with only a momentary stop and a thoughtful occasional “hello” to the barber, and sits in the chair to cut a long mane.

It is a small moment, which requires relatively little time to appear, but a delicate and elegant performance. Any queer or trans can probably be related to the random way their feet brought him to a workplace where they had a groundbreaking experience and the exhaustion of fear and doubt they experienced before entering. The play deviates a little from the universal experience in Page’s next scene, in which the performer enters a controversial family reunion and, at the first mention of the name “Vanya”, declares, “It’s,’s, Victor… The one who I have always been. “Is this an issue for anyone?” The assembled family members, in one, say that they are happy for Victor and start criticizing him for the regular decisions he made in the confrontation with their enemies.

It’s unobtrusive – so much so that one remembers that “The Umbrella Academy” is a fantasy and that Victor’s identity in the play is perhaps less important to those who write it than his role in the battle for the fate of the world. A later scene, in which Emmy Raver-Lampman’s character blames Viktor for not going out earlier and criticizing herself for not realizing she was trans, suggests ways in which well-meaning allies can sometimes be a little tedious. . But Victor closes it after only a few moments. he seems, in his new skin, to always know what to say, and goes on to describe the annoyance he once felt seeing himself in the mirror. It is elegantly positioned, seemingly drawing on Page’s interpretation from real-life experiences described by the actor before the adventure begins.

But at a time when a constant backlash against the rights of trans people just exists in this country, a show that depicts the process of coming out as a statement of self that is possible and that can be treated kindly feels worthwhile. that he should go out into the world, if given the chance. The fact that Victor’s story takes place on a show whose pop and crack make it popular with young viewers, just as the idea of ​​children being educated to be trans people has become a hobby of a rising, hysterical right. more pleasant. And what’s happening on Netflix, a service whose co-CEO Ted Sarandos has defended’s anti-trans rhetoric in special comedies by Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais, is a good example of counter-programming. (Praise for Victor’s approach to this series should fall on the team behind it and not on the leadership of Netflix, which has made it absolutely clear that anything will be shown.)

I’ve been critical of “The Umbrella Academy” in the past because I was a bit hasty in dealing with its big characters and in collecting their stories occasionally before they finally lost interest. It is a show with more courage than continuity, a show that, in its ambitious quest to conquer the world, often loses sight of the narrow and detailed detail that makes the stories worth telling. But at the beginning of this new season, a misguided approach works to re-introduce Page and Page’s character as a performer. Victor is trans and is imbued with forces even beyond the strength he needed to get out. Page is trans, and is a soul and warm actress partly due all of his life experiences. Dealing with this issue, allowing Victor and Page to move on, meet, and stay on the team, The Umbrella Academy did a small, good thing at a time when it might have been easier not to do so.

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