Netflix’s ‘Lockwood & Co.’ Is Spot-On Spooky YA TV
I admit I haven’t read Jonathon Stroud since he made me cry as a teenager with the end of Ptolemy’s Gatebut based on my binge of The Bartimaeus Series, I guess these newer books are just as scary, compelling, and well done as the ones I grew up with. That’s all to say I haven’t read that Lockwood and Co. Books, so I can only weigh the show on its own merits. But I have a healthy admiration for the prolific Stroud and for translating his books to screen: with seemingly higher quality production value and a massive cast, Netflix achieves an absolutely perfect creepy YA.
The world of the show Lockwood & Co. is one where, half a century ago, “The Problem” emerged: a whole taxonomy of spirits and wraiths began to emerge, the mere touch of which is fatal to the living. Children as young as 13 are trained to hunt these spirits as a sunset curfew takes hold of the world as a matter of course, and memorial obelisks are erected in city squares to commemorate the children who died fighting off the spirit incursions .
Lockwood & Co. takes the occult detective genre and fits it neatly into the YA framework. We have the brave female lead, Lucy Carlyle (Ruby Stokes), whose extraordinary talents as a spiritually sensitive child are exploited by her mean mother and then by an irresponsible adult trainer whose incompetence leads to the killing (or “ghosting”) of all her classmates ) ) and blames the whole thing on 16-year-old Lucy. Lucy takes a break from London, where she can’t get a job at any ghost-hunting agency except for the ragtag teen-run Lockwood & Co., which consists of two teenagers: the posh Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman) and the goofy, socially awkward one George (Ali Hadji-Heshmati).
These three outliers are foils to London’s corporatized ghost hunting industry, orchestrated from massive, very modern official buildings and governed by strict legal procedures designed to sanitize the endangerment/loss of young lives. I can’t stress enough how well cast our three leads are; They fit their roles so comfortably that the story really shines.
The lovable crew of unlikely misfits-turned-best-friends survive the landing and plunge into a tale of cover-ups, conspiracies and secrets in all directions. How did The Problem really begin? How did this rising starlet’s body get behind that wall? Inspector Barnes (Ivanno Jeremiah) oversees the tiny, child-run startup with a disapproving eye, and rival ghostbuster Quill Kipps (Jack Bandeira) plays the asshole nemesis with aplomb.
While it’s almost always a matter of life and death, there are also the incredibly endearing YA tropes of found family and the inevitable but awkward flirting. The show does a fabulous job of establishing the small ragtag team of heroes as playful and sometimes silly youthful, but with the solid pathos underneath that makes this dynamic work for the story.
Well cast and solidly executed, Lockwood & Co. achieves what it wanted to be: a binge-worthy YA adventure that, unless made blasphemous witcher-like deviations from the source materials should please fans of the books. It’s a fun adventure with a very youthful sense of humor, carried by three absolutely perfect leads and the youthful drama required. If that’s your thing, I can promise you a very enjoyable trip.