Netflix’s ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Accused of Promoting Antisemitic Stereotypes by Continuing to Feature Yiddish-Speaking Villain
A show on Netflix is being criticized for continuing to feature a Yiddish-speaking villain in its recently-released second season.
“The Umbrella Academy,” starring Ellen Page, follows a family of adopted sibling superheroes who reunite to save the world from an apocalypse.
The show’s second season began streaming on July 31, and it includes an evil organization called the Commission whose boss, known as the Handler, speaks primarily Yiddish, a language spoken nearly exclusively by Ashkenazi Jews.
The character, played by former “Grey’s Anatomy” star Kate Walsh, also spoke Yiddish in the show’s first season, which sparked outrage when it first aired in 2019 and resulted in the Board of Deputies of British Jews denouncing the series.
“The use of a Yiddish saying by the evil boss of an organization which controls the world’s timeline is clearly an anti-Semitic trope,” Amanda Bowman, the Jewish group’s vice president of the board, told The Sun last year. “Whether intentional or not, this makes for very uncomfortable viewing. Netflix should take action to remove the racism from this scene.”
Some viewers accused the series of promoting antisemitic stereotypes and deliberately including the Yiddish-speaking character in season two.
“Idk what to tell you the umbrella academy having the ‘secret world domination cult’ speaking Yiddish is definitely, intentionally antisemitic,” a Twitter user wrote, adding that “the jewish people trying to get world domination is such an old and widely known anti semitic trope there is just no way it’s a coincidence.”
i was SHOCKED when they had her speak yiddish again in season 2. why didn’t they learn their lesson?
— gab (@gabsaporta) August 2, 2020
A Jewish TikTok user accused the show of “antisemitic dog whistling” in a video about the series, saying, “Yiddish is a language spoken almost entirely by Ashkenazi Jews. Having the villains speak that language is showing, ‘Look at these big Jewish villains, aren’t they vile, look at their gross language. Look how evil it sounds.’ That is what it is. That is what it’s always been, because society is built on believing that Jewish people control everything. That is antisemitism.”
The series has also come under fire for depicting an underground society of “lizard people” who control the world from the shadows. As reported by The Jerusalem Post, the “lizard people” stems from a conspiracy theory “deeply rooted in antisemitic tropes” that was initiated by David Icke, a former BBC sports reporter who released a series of books that included conspiracies revolving around The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and his belief that Earth was controlled by shape-shifting lizards he called the “Babylonian Brotherhood.”
“The Umbrella Academy” is based on a comic book series of the same name written by My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way.
Yiddish is not used in the comic book series, but the two assassins written by Way, named Hazel and Cha-cha, do wear swastika armbands, suggesting that they are part of a Nazi organization, according to The Sun.