A Series of Unfortunate…Adaptations? We Rank Them All

Their misfortune is our joy.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Jim Carrey

A Series of Unfortunate Events: the series that enthralled and educated a generation with its finely crafted vocabulary lessons, mystery, intrigue, and utterly nefarious villain, is no stranger to on-screen adaptations.

Since the unveiling of the first trailer for Unfortunate Events Season 2, with it, emerged an age-old debate: Who did it better? Because in the case of Lemony Snicket‘s saga, there have only been three known works to contend in this arena; the novelization has since been adapted for both the big and small screen, while the books still stand the test of time.

So get your spyglass ready because I am about to unearth the secrets and reveal the truth behind who actually did it the better.

3. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix TV series, 2017)

netflix a series of unfortunate events to scare you to laughter

The Netflix series, while altogether more true to the books than the 2004 film adaptation, there is something about this series that doesn’t quite sit right. It is hard to compete with such a comedic mastermind such as Jim Carrey; and while he is great in his own right, Neil Patrick Harris is not the Count Olaf of my childhood.

He’s more NPH doing a character than being indisputably Count Olaf. The children being spoken down to and having their intelligence undermined is a basic staple of the books, but seeing it unfold on the small screen is something of a cringe-worthy experience. Also, the singing, I mean, why?

2. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004 film)

A Series of Unfortunate Events Jim Carrey

This film has everything, Jim Carrey, Jude Law, Meryl Streep!

While it strayed from some of the finer points of the book the aesthetic and the feel of the movie rang much truer to the story themes. It is still one of my biggest childhood regrets that the subsequent sequels to this movie were scrapped. This movie truly felt like a children’s book that had popped up and started moving right in front of us. The film has become something of a cult classic in this generation, a movie not appreciated in its own time but like a fine wine has found praise among the masses.

1. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Children’s books, 1999)

A Series of Unfortunate Events Books

In the end, the original A Series of Unfortunate Events wins out. For some of us, it was the first set of chapter books we ever read, it thrilled and delighted us for almost a decade. There are some things that just can’t be translated into moving pictures and this series has them. These books are unpredictable and tortured in a way that is somehow still child-friendly with relatable messages of friendship, trust, and self-reliance. Besides, we would be nowhere if Lemony Snicket had not put pen to paper to tell us this series of truly unfortunate events.

In the end, there’s really no wrong way to go when it comes to consuming this amazing series. But maybe you think I’m wrong, maybe you want to report me to the VFD for my wrongdoings or check my ankles of ominous eye tattoos. Be my guest, what is easily agreed on here is that this is a story that never gets old.

Which version is your favorite to binge?

What are some of your favorite parts of the books that the live action adaptations just can’t get right?
Let us know in the comments below!


Rachel Gonzalez
the authorRachel Gonzalez
Staff Writer
Rachel is a writer from Arizona who recently finished her BA at Northern Arizona University. Her four years in a mountain town got her a degree in English coupled with certificates in creative writing and literature and minors in journalism and anthropology. Her passions outside of reading and writing include RuPaul’s Drag Race, film and fitness. She loves YA fiction and comedy and hopes to turn those two loves into a novel in the near future. Favorite books: Looking for Alaska by John Green—actually, everything by John Green, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini