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‘Umbrella Academy’ Yiddish isn’t anti-Semitic for one historical reason

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A boy who’s really in his forties, a man who is also a gorilla, a talking chimpanzee, a time-traveling bureaucrat with a goldfish bowl for a head, the civil rights movement, cults, UFO conspiracy theories, the challenges of being disabled in the 1960s, amnesia, murderous Swedes, President Kennedy’s assassination, and not one but two apocalypses.

The Umbrella Academy stretches itself wide. Based on the comic series by Gerard Way, the Netflix series has an “everything and the kitchen sink” quality. A boy who’s really in his forties, a man who is also a gorilla, a talking chimpanzee, a time-traveling bureaucrat with a goldfish bowl for a head, the civil rights movement, cults, UFO conspiracy theories, the challenges of being disabled in the 1960s, amnesia, murderous Swedes, President Kennedy’s assassination, and not one but two apocalypses. Along the way, there’s also little Yiddish.

It’s this last part that has caused controversy. The Handler, played by Kate Walsh, isn’t part of the core superhero team, but rather a bigwig at the mysterious organization called The Commission with which the Umbrella Academy, an adopted family of powered individuals, has an antagonistic relationship. She speaks Yiddish casually. In the Season 1 finale, however, she goes as far as to say that the Commission has a common Yiddish phrase as a part of company wisdom.

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