Thursday, June 6, 2019

Let's Discuss! | Is Shadowhunters Worth Watching?

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! If you've been following this blog for a while, you might remember a series I did on my blog called "Adaptation Talk." In that series, I either reviewed or listed my opinions on some big name adaptations. One of those was Shadowhunters.

Shadowhunters recenlty concluded, with Freeform cancelling the series after 3 seasons. Since the show had not yet covered all the source material, there was a special 80 minute episode at the end that covered the last novel, City of Heavenly Fire. The show has a total of 55 episodes, including the longer finale episode. Considering that all episodes are free to watch on Freeform's website and they had only 3 seasons, Shadowhunters can be easily binge-watched this summer.

But is Shadowhunters a good enough TV show to merit watching?
Image result for shadowhunters season 3
The season 3 poster

The short answer is maybe, depending on whether or not you read (and are a fan  of) the books. If you haven't, you'll most likely enjoy the show for what it is: an urban fantasy show that tackles political issues (both in our reality and in the fantastical world), battles with some solid choreography, and a shit ton of hot people and their romances. But if you read the books? Well, Shadowhunters is mainly a disappointment, since it's not a good adaptation. What I mean by "good adaptation" is not whether the show is good or not, but that it doesn't follow the books. Essentially, Shadowhunters takes the structure of Cassandra Clare's novels, with the same world, power structures, and roughly the same rules and laws, but makes monumental changes to the plot, switching the sequences, altering interpersonal realtionships, and at times completely disregarding huge plot points of the novels.

Since I have read the novels, I've always struggled between enjying Shadhowunters for what it is and being disappointed. I did read all six Mortal Instruments books a while ago, but I do remember key points, so when the show didn't deliver on them (like having the Alliance rune during the battle with Valentine, or having Jace and Sebastian linked, or the whole Simon/Maia/Izzy love triangle) I was let down.

However, the show did have its merits as well. Now that I have completed the series, I'll give you a pros and cons list of the show, and let you decide if you should watch the show or not.

  • Simon
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    • Simon is literally the shining star of Shadowhunters. The actor who played Simon, Alberto Rosende, has actually read all the books (unlike some of the cast). While some actors never really got the essence of the character down pat, Rosende always seemed like Simon. While Simon annoyed me at times in the first three books, he was my favorite part of this series. He tends to be the comedic aspect of the tv show, making Shadowhunters more balanced and less angsty. 
  • Magnus and Alec
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    • While Magnus and Alec wasn't my favorite couple in the show, a ton of people love them. Personally, I think the show couple paled in comparison to the book. This goes back to my struggle to watch the show without comparing it to the source material. It's amazing to see a m/m couple be a cornerstone for a tv series. Their relationship was never pushed to the side, and was actually a large focus, and I loved that!
  • Clary
  • Image result for clary shadowhunters
    • If you've wawtched the first season, you might be thinking, "Clary? She's not good in Shadowhunters." Well, let me tell you - Katherine McNamara really grows as an actress. While she might have been a weaker link in the first season, she really shined by season three. If you read the books, you know Clary goes through some really traumatic things with her family. Katherine McNamara delivers on these scenes, and packs an emotional punch. One of my favorite parts of season 3b was Kat's acting, and I thought she did a wonderful job showing Clary's emotional distress during the city of Heavenly Fire plot points.

  • Writing
    • The writing of the show is probably the weakest. The show is chock-full of cringey dialouge and deux ex machinas. There was also major plot points missing from the books that were replaced by weaker ideas. For instance, the plot line in season 1 where Alec has to marry a woman (forcing him coming out to many) was so unnecessary, and it felt like the writers just couldn't figure out how to portray the internal struggle of coming out. This is just one example out of many, and I was let down to see some of my favorite parts of the novel scrapped or moved around. 
    • The weak writing also led to shaky worldbuilding. The weak worldbuilding is evident whenever the characters start talking about hte Clave or the Council. I've read the books and have a pretty good grasp on the politics of Shadowhunters, but the show still confused me, because the writers never did a good job of clearly explaining the politics, the different branches and their roles, and then showing them thoroughout the series consistently. 
    • Lastly, the pacing was all over the place. The showrunners didn't think Shadowhunters was going to be cancelled, which explains why the last book was smushed into two episodes at the end. However, this doesn't explain how the first two seasons follow the first three books, but then there is only one season for the last three books. Valentine is a great villain, but he is nothing comapred to Jonathon in the novels. However, there wasn't enough time to establish Jonathon as a serious and menacing villain, making the last season feel rushed and the conflict less high-stakes.
  • Jace
  • Image result for jace herondale
    • No hate to Dom Sherwood, the actor who played Jace, but I never thought he did a good job with Jace's character. If you are familiar with the books, Jace is a snarky, uber-confident, yet deeply caring character who struggles with his identity. I never got this depth from Jace's character in the tv show. He always seemed to be a know-it-all, but without the snark that makes Jace lovable. Jace ended up being the Shadowhunter equivalent of a dull jock character, and it was disapointing. 
With all of that information, I hope you can decide for yourselves if Shadowhunters is worth the watch. Shadowhunters definitely improves itself, but I wouldn't have continued with the series if it were not for being a fan of the source material. 

I would also love viewers opinions! What did you think of the show? What were some of your favorite and least favorite aspects of the show? 

Thanks so much for stopping by and I'll see you soon with another post!

Happy Reading!

Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!

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