Although The Umbrella Academy has always been diverse, it’s never truly taken advantage of its cast when telling diverse stories. Some of the Hargreeves siblings are queer, two are POC, and one came out as transgender this season. Finally, season three digs into these characters' stories more deeply. Specifically, Diego (David Castañeda), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), and Viktor (Elliot Page) get nuanced storylines that make for great representation. Spoilers for The Umbrella Academy season three!
I was so happy with Diego’s character arc this season as an avid Diego fan. Diego is a character who, despite hating being vulnerable, has been one of the most openly vulnerable characters on the show. This has made him such a relatable and lovable character. He’s also the only Umbrella to have a disability: a stutter. When he’s overcome by emotion, Diego struggles to speak. That happens once this season when he’s angry at Lila for lying to him about their child. It’s such a raw moment that broke a lot of viewers’ hearts, but I’m glad his stutter wasn’t forgotten by the show’s writers.
I was also elated to see Diego’s Latino identity finally acknowledged and fleshed out this season. In prior seasons it often felt like his ethnic identity was completely ignored. While this wasn’t a major problem since he wasn’t raised in Latin culture, it’s still great to see someone who looks and acts like my family represented onscreen. When he and Ben began arguing in Spanish and Korean, respectively, I could tell Umbrella Academy was finally going to touch on the characters’ ethnic/racial identities.
Diego’s approach to fatherhood felt distinctly Latino to me. There are so many moments this season that reminded me of my own Latino father and other Latino men in my family. It’s the little things in David Castañeda’s performance that enhance it. For instance, the sharp whistling to get his son’s attention. The dynamic between him and Stan feels authentic to relationships between first-generation and second-generation Latino immigrants in the U.S. Multiple times, Diego starts speaking Spanish to Stan and Stan replies that he doesn’t understand. As an English-speaking daughter to a bilingual immigrant father, I related so much to this.
Like many Latino dads, Diego loves his family but shows it in ways that aren’t traditionally perceived as affectionate. Latino culture is very family-oriented. By the end of the season, Diego finally reveals that he loves Lila. He’s dedicated to her and their baby. And in classic machismo fashion, he tries to lock Lila away to protect her and their baby while sacrificing himself. Luckily, Lila doesn’t let him.
You could say Allison has entered her villain era this season. Although a lot of viewers hated what the show’s writers did with Allison’s character, I appreciated most of it. Allison has always been the “good” sibling. She’s always upheld a certain level of moral decency above the others. But after losing her husband and her daughter, Allison is angry and vengeful. She is tired of playing into the politics of politeness she’s followed her entire life and was forced to follow to survive when she was trapped in the '60s last season.
Allison does some terrible, even unforgivable things in season three. However, where others see a sudden transition to evil, I see a traumatized Black woman struggling to pick up the pieces of her life when the biggest pieces are missing. Audience reactions to her character change remind me of reactions to Wanda in Multiverse of Madness, but Allison has many reasons to go bad. She lived through the Jim Crow South as a Black woman, meaning she was a constant target for misogyny, racism, bigotry, and discrimination. It’s important to see how being surrounded by constant hate and loss can warp a person into someone so consumed by hate that she perpetuates such a cycle of violence.
Allison lost the two people she loved most because of Viktor. It’s understandable Allison would be as angry at Viktor as she is. He’s seemingly gotten off scot-free after ending the world twice. What’s more, while Viktor receives all the love and acceptance this season from his siblings when he transitions, Allison’s emotional needs are totally neglected. The one thing that feels truly unjustified in Allison’s arc this season is her sexual assault of Luther. This controversial scene was completely unnecessary to the story. Afterward, it’s totally brushed over by the characters and forgotten, making it feel like a problematic loose end. Beyond this, I thought Allison’s arc was well-written.
The Umbrella Academy also finally acknowledges that Allison and Diego are the only remaining non-white siblings. The pair have a heart-to-heart when Diego brings Allison to a bar full of racists to blow off some steam. He seems to understand her experience with racism because of the color of their skin. They both know their other siblings could never understand. I would love to see more little moments of solidarity between Allison and Diego like this. From the little glimpse of the fight we got, it looked awesome! I wish we’d gotten to see the whole scene.
Elliot Page came out as transgender and non-binary in 2020, and many wondered how or if this would affect the portrayal of his character on The Umbrella Academy. Elliot Page happened to be transitioning at the time of filming, but he did not force the showrunners to change his character at all. Showrunner Steve Blackman chose to incorporate Elliot’s experience into the show in a beautiful, seamless way that doesn’t take over the story but fits right in. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Blackman, Page, and writer Thomas Page McBee discussed how they integrated Viktor’s transition into season three. McBee also happens to be transgender, and his input shaped Viktor’s transition. This is why it’s so important to have marginalized voices in front of and behind the camera!
Together, Blackman, Page, and McBee did a wonderful job telling Viktor’s story. This season, Viktor begins to realize that he truly identifies as a man. Last season he fell in love with a woman, and the love and acceptance he received from her helped him with his own self-love. After this, he was able to better embrace his true self. Viktor has always been in a process of transitioning: from powerless to powerful; from isolated to loved; from straight to queer. As Page and McBee mention, many trans people identify as queer before realizing they’re trans. This season was able to successfully capture Viktor’s process of accepting all these different parts of himself culminating in accepting himself as trans.
Luckily, his family accepts his transition in stride. They are consistently gender affirming and never deadname Viktor. No matter how “evil” Allison gets, she repeatedly calls Viktor her brother and uses correct pronouns. Only Luther handles the change a little awkwardly. He wants to throw a party for Viktor at first. He’s a little confused but he’s got the spirit! That awkwardness was something true to Elliot Page’s experience after he came out, and the authenticity comes from his and McBee’s control over this story. After coming out, Allison asks Viktor who he sees in his reflection. The happiness on his face is so real when he says, “Me.”
The Umbrella Academy is now streaming on Netflix.