‘The Umbrella Academy’ creator responds to anti-Semitism claims

"The accusation of antisemitism in The Umbrella Academy is hurtful and, more importantly, factually incorrect"

One of the creators of The Umbrella Academy has responded to claims that the show is promoting anti-Semitic tropes.

In season two of the Netflix superhero series (premiered July 31), a villain called The Handler is occasionally heard speaking in the Jewish language, Yiddish.

Since the character’s casual use of Yiddish implies she’s Jewish – and she is regarded as power-hungry in the show – the depiction has been accused of perpetuating a harmful conspiracy theory that Jewish people control much of global society.

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The Gerard Way-created franchise, which is based on his comic book of the same name and also showed The Handler speaking Yiddish in its first season, has upset some viewers online who said they were surprised the series returned to it in new episodes.

Twitter user @gabsaporta wrote a thread explaining her belief that the show is promoting anti-Semitic tropes.

“Jews have been persecuted throughout history because people think they are a secret organisation bringing about the end of humanity and global domination,” she wrote. “So, when the show had the handler speaking Yiddish, it implies that she’s Jewish, because goyim [non-Jewish people] simply just don’t usually speak it.”

“I could have just chalked it up to bad decision making if it had just been season one,” she continued. “But after season one premiered, the show pretty publicly came under fire for implying that the handler was jewish. ‘I was SHOCKED when they had her speak Yiddish again in season 2. Why didn’t they learn their lesson?”

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Responding to the claims, Steve Blackman, one of the show’s creators, has issued a statement.

“The accusation of antisemitism in The Umbrella Academy is hurtful and, more importantly, factually incorrect,” he said. “I wrote these episodes, created the character, and am myself Jewish. While I understand audiences sometimes receive things in a different way than creators intend, The Handler was not created as an anti-Semitic character.”

He continued: “The Handler speaks every language, including Swedish, Mandarin, Yiddish, and English as we saw this season, and The Commission is not an evil organization; they do not control finances, governments, or the media. The only thing they control – and more importantly, protect – is the timeline of our fictional Umbrella Academy universe.”

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