NOT SPOILER FREE
Shadowhunters is a relatively new TV show based on Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments book series and wider Shadowhunters book universe. As someone who read and loved the first few books of the series when I was younger (City of Glass was supposed to be the final book, and by the time City of Fallen Angels came out, I had moved on), and was bitterly disappointed by that God-awful movie a few years back, I was very interested in watching it and hoping it would be miles better than the film. Twelve year old Mia didn’t care for how good quality the writing was, so I couldn’t tell you now as a 21 year old adult how great Cassandra Clare is as a writer, but I do remember how much I loved the characters, the story and the universe they were in. It was exciting and new and I really, really wanted to be Clary. Or Isabelle. So to see a poorly-executed film version of a series I loved so much as a child was heartbreaking. Hearing about the TV show being in production reignited the small flame of hope that it would be done properly, and seeing it come to Netflix in January was super exciting.
For those unfamiliar with the series, 18-year-old Clary Fray discovers she is a Shadowhunter (a half human, half angel hybrid whom are usually tasked with killing demons) after witnessing what she believes to be a regular (i.e., non-paranormal) murder, and then her mother’s disappearance. The first book, City of Bones, and the TV show so far depict her coming into this new world and the hunt for both her mother and the much-coveted Mortal Cup.
Six episodes of Shadowhunters have aired so far, and although at the beginning the show came off as very cheesy and shallow (but still enjoyable: just because something is either or both of these things doesn’t make it bad by default), with some special effects that didn’t quite fit, it’s really come into it’s own in the last couple of weeks. While Luke’s alliances at the beginning of the show are ambiguous, we discover he’s actually been on Clary’s side all along, and despite not finding the Jace-Clary-Simon love triangle plot not being as cute or even interesting as I did when I was twelve, I love that it is often shown in parallel to Magnus and Alec. And that Magnus’ bisexuality is explicitly addressed! And he isn’t shown as a promiscuous immortal being with no feelings! That is worth something. One thing that these later episodes have been lacking is the friendship between Clary and Isabelle that began to develop at the beginning, but I have faith we will see more of them as the show goes on.
Overall, if you like cheesy fantasy shows that allow for real feeling and emotion as it gets deeper into the story and the character’s histories, Shadowhunters is great for that. Even if it’s not your thing, it’s still better than the film. And that is worth something, at least.