Specifically, viewers have criticized the show for suggesting its main villain "The Handler" (played by Kate Walsh) is Jewish because of her use of Yiddish words like "meshugas" and "schvitz," terms that some Twitter users argue wouldn't be used casually by "goyim."
Additionally, fans have taken note of the show's problematic portrayal of an evil secret society, made up of characters that are repeatedly described or seen as "lizard people" that control the world from the shadows and serve to dismantle American life.
One Twitter user, @gabsaporta, called out the show's creators for using the Yiddish language haphazardly in both of its two seasons.
the thing is, the handler is also shown fluent in a lot of other languages. in s2, she speaks mandarin and swedish with ease. however, that raises the point — why did she speak yiddish?— gab (@gabsaporta) August 2, 2020
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
here is another thing. at one point, diego mentions the "lizard people" who are going to kill JFK. the lizard people, like most other conspiracy theories, is antisemitic. you can read up on that here. https://t.co/W6PPqv8Hw7— gab (@gabsaporta) August 2, 2020
TLDR: the umbrella academy has spread some antisemitic things in their show, like the handler speaking yiddish or references to the lizard people. it's problematic, but i don't think it's nazi propaganda. and gerard way didn't have anything to do with the show.— gab (@gabsaporta) August 2, 2020
Last year, the show came under fire by the Board of Deputies of British Jews for the same accusations, as antagonists' use of Yiddish appeared in Season 1 as well.
"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," VP Amanda Bowman told the Sun newspaper last year. "Whether intentional or not, this makes for very uncomfortable viewing. Netflix should take action to remove the racism from this scene."
Season 2 of the series premiered on Friday (July 31) last week. While Way penned the original graphic novel series, the live-action adaptation was created by showrunner Steve Blackman. Alongside Walsh, The Umbrella Academy stars Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper, Aidan Gallagher, David Castañeda and Emmy Raver-Lampman.