Diversity Aboveground: A Series of Unfortunate Events

The new Violet Baudelaire

A Series of Unfortunate Events was first announced as an adaptation by Netflix in November 2014. In August 2015, Daniel Handler, the author behind the original book series revealed on Twitter that, “In writing the Snicket series, it was important to me that everyone see themselves in the books. No character was designated by race in the text, and I’m working with Netflix for the show to reflect this.”

After Netflix sent out a press release a month later that Mark Hudis would be the show runner and Barry Sonnenfield would direct, the next announcement earlier this year was that Mark Hudis was leaving and Neil Patrick Harris would be Count Olaf; the main villain. Sometimes, show runners don’t work out. They have creative differences or find other projects they want to do. However, it’s unusual not to have any reasons whatsoever about the change.

Was it related to arguments over diverse casting?

Netflix opened up casting for the two oldest Baudelaire children to anyone in the world who could record an audition, post it on their website and meet the age requirements. The three Baudelaire children are the stars of the series which all the unfortunate events revolve around as they mature into teenagers who control their own destiny. Except for Sunny, who’s a toddler when the series begins and still small when it ends.

That’s not a spoiler, is it? This is a children’s series, not The Hunger Games.

Louis Hynes in a previous play

Malina Weissman seen above and Louis Hynes here

Despite all this publicity and discussion over being diverse, Netflix cast Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes; both Caucasian. Weissman already has five roles behind her, including young Kara in Supergirl and young April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). Hynes is a stage actor from Britain. Both appear cast from agent intervention and not the special casting page. It appears that Netflix never intended to cast from the submitted amateur auditions and only created the site to look good. Netflix received free publicity from sites all over the internet, including this one, while seeming to want a more diverse group of Baudelaire siblings.

Of course, for most adaptations, focusing on casting People of Color for supporting roles would still a win. This is because most book series don’t have an overwhelming majority of characters who are naive and/or actively evil. A Series of Unfortunate Events only has 11 characters who don’t suffer from being too trusting or being a villain.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire

Lemony Snicket

Duncan, Isadora and Quigley Quagmire

Dewey Denouement

Charles

Friday Caliban

Kit Snicket

Yes, that’s 13 books and only 11 plainly good characters. Four have already been cast as Caucasian; the three Baudelaire siblings and Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton). Lemony’s sister, Kit, will likely be Caucasian as well.

Daniel Handler

Lemony Snicket in the Books

One day, casting won’t matter. Any person with any skin color can play any role but for now, the kind of role matters. People should have roles that look like them that inspire them and make them believe in a better world. Most People of Color will have to be cast as either antagonists or the Baudelaire’s various ill-fated guardians. Perhaps some new characters will be added like the 2004 film adding Cedric the Entertainer as a police detective.

READ ALSO:  Netflix's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' Already Confirmed For Season 3

There have been some deviations from the all-white cast. Mr. Poe will be played by K. Todd Freeman; most known for playing Mr. Trick on Buffy the Vampire Slayer but was also Dr. Baxter Stockman in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014). Should we expect anyone else from that film joining the series?

Mr. Poe is more naive and gullible than evil but the extent of his stupidity in these matters can be quite dangerous and does lead to deaths, just not directly by his hand. So, representation…Yay! Kind of representation…could be better…

Aasif Mandvi (Halal in the Family) will play Dr. Montgomery Montgomery. The doctor of herpetology is beloved among book fans, getting to be cool and smart at the same time. Unfortunately, he’s one of those ill-fated guardians.

Only the future will show what will come on the series but in order to balance everything out, the Quagmires shouldn’t be Caucasian.

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Love on The Walking Dead

It’s March, only three months into 2016 and television writers/producers have managed to kill eight lesbian characters so far. Decaheda and BlueStrawberry on Tumblr probably put it best:

The 8 LGBT women killed off in 2016 represents roughly 28% of the LGBT women currently on network shows.  The equivalent would be if 384 straight characters had been killed off network shows in 2016.  If 384 straight characters had been killed off this year so far, wouldn’t you be pissed about it too?

While it’s great to have characters who are open about finding women attractive or reveal they have been in relationships with women before, it’s more important to have loving, long-term relationships between women that don’t end tragically when one of them is murdered. Lesbians shouldn’t be the default shock death. Be a better, less lazy writer.

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KC Undercover

Zendaya has joined the new Spider-Man film. It will be the first solo film after Tom Holland debuts as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War next month.

There’s no word on who Zendaya plays. The current Disney Channel darling auditioned for “Michelle” but that was probably a code name for the actual character. Zendaya herself can’t even say when filming will begin when interviewed on The Ellen Show:

— I have no idea. I don’t even know that, to be completely honest. But you know, it’s very exciting. When it comes to the acting space I’m basically unknown. I’ve never been in a real movie before or anything like that so I had to start from the bottom like anyone else and audition and audition and audition and break down those walls.

Is Michelle really Mary Jane?

Will Zendaya be playing Gwen?

 

Or will the biracial actress be playing someone like Ava Ayala a.k.a. White Tiger?

Who do you want Zendaya to play in the film?

Next week, America NEEDS Kamala Khan and others to help educate about what Muslims are really like.


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