|“||You must always give people what they want!||”|
— Her very flawed motto in the books
Olivia Caliban, also known under the alias Madame Lulu, was a fortune teller and owner of the Caligari Carnival.
In the TV series, she first appeared as a librarian of the library at Prufrock Preparatory School in The Austere Academy: Part One and has an extended role. She befriends Jacques Snicket and becomes a member of VFD. She later takes the role of Madame Lulu while the previous one (implied to be Kit Snicket) went to retrieve the Sugar Bowl from Heimlich Hospital.
Although Olivia is her real name, she preferred to be called by the name "Madame Lulu". Her motto was "Everyone gets what they want." Her natural hair color was blonde, but she disguised this with a fake turban, the same turban Count Olaf wore in The Austere Academy when he was pretending to be Coach Genghis and spoke in the same accent that Count Olaf used when he was pretending to be Gunther, the innest auctioneer, adding "please" at odd times.
Count Olaf visited her at the carnival whenever he needed to know the latest whereabouts of the Baudelaires, believing that she could tell through psychic means. However, Madame Lulu wasn't a real psychic. Instead, she requested her guests to close their eyes, then researched the answers to their questions, using the documents in an archival library hidden under a table in her tent. A device that she invented would trick her guests into thinking that smoke and lightning would initiate inside the tent. It is unknown whether or not Count Olaf realized that she was a fraud.
Madame Lulu was originally, as Olivia Caliban, a member of V.F.D. It is known that Captain Widdershins taught her how to read codes on stained maps. It is unclear what side of the schism Madame Lulu was loyal to if she chose a side at all. Madame Lulu said that she just likes giving people what they want.
The Carnivorous Carnival
Madame Lulu is aware that Caligari Carnival may close if they do not get enough customers. She hires the Baudelaire orphans disguised as freaks to work there.
The next morning they discover that when Olaf asked Madame Lulu "Is one Baudelaire parent still alive?", she consulted the crystal ball (and V.F.D. Members using a phone disguised as a lamp) and answered: "Yes, one is up in the Mortmain Mountains."
Olaf gifts her a pack of lions, saying that if one of the freaks is devoured, it will boost the popularity of the Carnival.
The orphans go back to Lulu's tent to search for clues. They first discover the V.F.D. symbol on the outside and inside find a secret archival library under the table hidden by a tablecloth that she uses to aid her in her predictions. The mysterious effects behind her fortune telling turn out to be no more than ropes and pulleys. They accidentally break Lulu's crystal ball when trying to lift the tablecloth higher to get a better glimpse of the archival library, and they are discovered when Lulu comes in. Lulu breaks down and throws off her disguise, revealing herself as a woman named Olivia who just wants to give people what they want. She is a member of V.F.D. and tells them about the V.F.D. disguise kit and a schism which happened in the organization. Olivia discovers that the children are actually the Baudelaires in disguise when Klaus lets slip that Olivia made a prediction regarding the Baudelaires' parent. The Baudelaires admit to their identity and plan to travel with Olivia to the Mortmain Mountains to determine if one of their parents is really alive. Though Olivia did say to Count Olaf that one of the Baudelaires' parents is alive, she is not actually sure and only suggested the Mortmain Mountains as their possible location as that is one of the few remaining V.F.D. headquarters. Violet plans to invent a vehicle made from the cars from the nearby roller coaster and the fan belt from the lightening effects Olivia used in her fortune telling that would enable them to escape from the carnival and travel up the Mortmain Mountains.
Esmé Squalor, who is jealous of Olaf's attention to Madame Lulu and Madame Lulu’s actions towards her boyfriend, comes to the caravan of the freaks in an outfit that says I Love Freaks. Esmé tries to convince them that whoever is picked to be thrown into the pit of ravenous lions the next day should throw Madame Lulu in instead. If they do that, they will be made part of Count Olaf's theater troupe and have an exciting career as a criminal.
Madame Lulu, along with the Bald Man with the Long Nose, died after falling into the pit of lions during the skirmish at the carnival. Not wanting to watch her being eaten by lions, the Baudelaires silently walked away from the crowd. Crying and distressed, they found themselves at Madame Lulu's tent.
Later, when the Baudelaires are riding in a caravan up the mountain, Olaf reveals that before her demise, Madame Lulu told him that the Baudelaires disguised themselves as freaks. She likely did this because of her philosophy of giving people what they want, but the Baudelaires felt betrayed.
In the TV series, Olivia has an extended role.
In The Austere Academy, she is a librarian at Prufrock. She tries to help out the Baudelaires and the Quagmires to the best of her ability. She finds an annotated book, The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations, which was dropped by Larry the Waiter while trying to deliver it to the Baudelaires at Prufrock Prep, and she learns of the bigger picture.
In The Ersatz Elevator, Olivia visits Poe and tries to tell him about how the orphans are being taken advantage of. Poe, of course, is useless as usual and doesn't listen, mainly because he is about to go on a helicopter search for the Quagmires. Jacquelyn has Jacques Snicket pick up Olivia and recruit her into their secret organization, V.F.D. Jacques and Olivia search 667 Dark Avenue for the Quagmires but are unsuccessful in finding them, but they do find an extra floor above the penthouse.
In The Vile Village, Jacques and Olivia arrive at the Village of Fowl Devotees to track down the Baudelaires and Count Olaf. Jacques and Olivia detain Olaf at the local jailhouse, unaware of Esmé's new role. Off-screen, Officer Luciana detains Jacques and Olivia and sets Olaf free. In jail, Olivia convinces Esmé to free her and Jacques in exchange for the location of the Sugar Bowl, an object with ties to Esmé's past. Jacques directs Olivia to Madame Lulu, a fellow associate, in order to find the Sugar Bowl before Esmé and Olaf do. Jacques stays at the village in order to watch over the Baudelaires and the Quagmires, however, he is murdered by Olaf.
In The Carnivorous Carnival, it is revealed that "Madame Lulu" is a rotating role. The adaptation mainly follows the same plot as the book, except Olivia is more honorable to the Baudelaires and tries to save their lives. Olaf realizes that Olivia is "that school librarian" and kills her by cutting a rope holding the bench she was standing on, leading her to be eaten by the lions.
Behind the scenes
She is portrayed by Sara Rue in the TV series.
- The Carnivorous Carnival
- The Grim Grotto (mentioned only)
- The Penultimate Peril (mentioned only)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)
- "My Olaf!" (said 18 times in the book)
- "I'm thrilled, please, to see you, my Olaf. Welcome to the caravan of mine. How is life for you?"
- "Madame Lulu has no money, please. Is hard, my Olaf, to do fortunetelling for you when Madame Lulu is so poor. The caravan of mine has leaky roof, and Madame Lulu needs money, please, to do repairs."
- "Madame Lulu does not particularly care about sleep of freaks."
- "How dare you, please, enter the tent without permission of Madame Lulu! I am the boss of Caligari Carnival, please, and you must obey me every single moment of your freakish lives! Please, I have never seen, please, the freaks who are so ungrateful to Madame Lulu! You are in the worst of the trouble, please! You are the breakers of the crystal ball! You should be ashamed of your freaky selves! The crystal ball is the very valuable thing, please, and is having of the magical powers!"
- Nero: "Why are you here?"
Olivia: "Why are any of us here? Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. Voltaire said that."
- "Too bad we can't fix stupidity at the vice principal level."
- "In a world too often governed by corruption and arrogance, it can be hard to stay true to one's philosophical and literary principles."
- "Look at me, a part of a noble and heroic organization, finally putting my innate physical dexterity and extensive training in library science to the purpose for which they were made." (to Esmé)
- Although the book does not reveal "Madame Lulu" is a rotating position, it could be implied in the book when she says, "My name is Olivia. I'm not Madame Lulu and I'm not a fortune-teller." Whether or not "Madame Lulu" being a rotating position was intended when Daniel Handler wrote the book is unknown.
- It is possible that Olivia and Count Olaf were in a relationship or simply liked to be with her for more than her abilities.
- In the book The Miserable Mill, Madame Lulu may be the fortune-teller who did not forgive Lemony Snicket after a policeman (possibly Harvey Mitchum) tripped Snicket, forcing him to break the crystal ball he was holding.
- However, in the TV series, Lemony says he never had the pleasure of meeting Olivia, although the books and TV series may be considered separate canons.
- Olivia Caliban may be the sister of Thursday, the sister-in-law of Miranda Caliban, and the aunt of Friday Caliban. However, she could also be Miranda's sister, which would still make her the aunt of Friday, but the sister-in-law of Thursday instead. If Captain Widdershins is Thursday, then the latter must be true.
- Another theory is that if Olivia Caliban and Miranda Caliban are sisters, then it's possible they have a third sibling, N. Caliban or N. Snicket, because of the alphabet name order of many siblings in the series such as the Snickets and Denouements. It would be MNO, as in Miranda, N, and Olivia.
- In the TV series, Olivia secretly enjoys cart-surfing when no one else is looking.
- In the TV series, it is revealed Olivia liked To Kill a Mockingbird. Unfortunately, Carmelita Spats interpreted the book title too literally and thought Olivia liked killing mockingbirds.