Here’s a question for you Umbrella Academy fans out there. Do the Hargreeves kids count as a found family?
Found families are a staple of our television screens. The crew of misfits, forced to cooperate until bickering coworkers become bickering siblings. Until bosses become more like parents. Found families usually bond as adults, not children. The emphasis is on the choice to unconditionally support each other, which these characters’ birth families often failed to do.
In this respect, the Hargreeves siblings aren’t a found family. They grew up together. They’ve known each other since they were babies. They base their intense hate-love relationship on layers and layers of shared childhood trauma. On the surface, the Hargreeves fit more easily into another TV trope, the dysfunctional family. This trope describes a splintered family who can’t stand each other on the best of days… yet somehow come together on their worst days because “blood is thicker than water,” and because Timmy still owes me for those stolen animal crackers in second grade.
The Hargreeves are a dysfunctional family on many levels. But here’s where things get interesting. When the Hargreeves finally come together, it’s not because blood is thicker than water. These kids share no DNA. They weren’t born from the same womb. Instead, the seven Hargreeves kids were all adopted.
I hear you objecting, “Adoptive families are just as real as biological ones”—and I absolutely agree! Adoptive families are a beautiful treasure. But sadly, the Hargreeves never enjoyed an adoptive family of the type you’re envisioning. A psychopath adopted them and exploited them as child soldiers, forcing them to develop superpowers… sometimes through literal torture. Their dynamic resembled rival coworkers more than siblings, whether adoptive or biological.
Thankfully, the Hargreeves kids broke free from this toxic environment. (Well, most of them did. Poor Luther.) They went their separate ways and did their best to heal, with varying degrees of success. But decades later, whenever things get hairy—whether it’s the literal apocalypse, an addiction battle, or just a nasty breakup—the Hargreeves rally ‘round the old flag.
It’s not because blood is thicker than water (the dysfunctional family). It’s not because they genuinely enjoy each other’s company (the found family). Heck, just look at the unholy trinity of Five, Diego, and Luther, whose rivalry brings us such gems as “Imagine Batman, then aim lower,” and “Dad should’ve left him on the moon.” But in the face of petty jealousies, shockingly incompatible temperaments, and deep-seated abandonment issues, the Hargreeves have made a choice, for better or worse, to stick together.
Against all odds, they chose to find each other.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Prescott writes books under the name Katie Hanna and blogs under the name Charles Baker Harris (confusing, she readily admits). You can find out more about Jessica, her pet projects, and her obsession with Doctor Who at I’m Charles Baker Harris (And I Can Read).