Before we go any further, this is an opinion piece about Shadowhunters. If you disagree with my opinions, that is cool. We can have a completely open debate about our points of view in the comments. But please don’t become one of those lame internet idiots who sits at their keyboard and calls me names.
There will also be spoilers for The Mortal Instruments interspersed throughout this rant.
Oh. And this will be long.
You have been warned.
For those of you who know me, I am a fangirl. I love books and movies and TV shows and I love them hard. I can quote my favourites at random, and can usually work those quotes in without you realising. I can lecture you until we’re both blue in the face about my favourite characters and why they are so much better than your favourite characters. Unless we have the same ones.
I love me some Doctor Who, Sherlock, Harry Potter, and Avengers. But honestly? The fandom I fangirl hardest for is the Shadowhunter universe, brought to us by Cassandra Clare. I have every book. I have watched every book trailer. I have bought themed key rings, I have a pendant of one of the Shadowhunter family rings, and I have a huge chest piece planned based on three of Clare’s characters. One of my most prized possessions is a framed, illustrated quote from The Infernal Devices, given to me by one of my very awesome university friends.
To say I was disappointed in City of Bones would be an understatement. Isabelle with a flamethrower? Hodge with agoraphobia? Not to mention the travesty that was Valentine. Valentine was a horrifying man in a perfectly tailored suit, absolutely certain that every horror he inflicted was for a greater good that would benefit both humanity and the Nephilim. He was not a lunatic with braids in his hair, acting irrationally, and wearing a vest over a bare chest. The Valentine we all know and are terrified of was always in control. The movie Valentine was an abomination.
So, when I clicked on the Shadowhunters icon in my Netflix account, I expected so much more. I mean, it’s a TV show! Books to TV shows seem to have such a better chance of being amazing. Just look at Game of Thrones!
Now, Cassandra Clare has already distanced herself from the TV show more times than I can count. She let these guys have the rights, and yet had no creative input. This wasn’t J.K. Rowling telling Alan Rickman (may he rest in peace. Always.) the reasons why Snape had so many issues with Harry so that he could play his character the right way from the get go. This was … whatever the hell happened to Eragon. And The Northern Lights. I actually semi live tweeted the pilot of Shadowhunters. Purely because I didn’t think people on Facebook would appreciate me flooding their walls with rantings and ravings about something they don’t care about. So here are just a few of those tweets:
OK, so in the series, Clary is eighteen and applying for art school. She gets home one day and her mother gives her this weird silver thing (the stele) with markings all over it. Markings that Clary happens to have been doodling all over her sketch pads.
THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. Maybe the network wanted to make Jocelyn more likeable or something, but Jocelyn specifically kept Clary in the dark about the Shadowhunter world. In fact, Jocelyn insisted that she and Clary disappear for the summer to get away from New York as soon as there’s even the slightest possibility that Valentine is in the city. The fact that Jocelyn and Clary were in a fight when Jocelyn was taken is something that drives the Fray family dynamics. There is a huge showdown in City of Glass when Jocelyn comes back because Clary never had time to process her anger. Good God, this is one of the fundamental themes and the show runners destroyed it.
And what was with Maureen being in Simon’s band? Maureen becomes a fan of the band in City of Fallen Angels, I believe. She is fourteen and ends up caught in the crossfire between a demonic cult, Simon, and Lilith. Maureen is the textbook definition of an innocent victim, even if she goes a little off the rails (this being a massive understatement). Having Maureen being in Simon’s band takes away from what made Maureen’s story so devastating. And terrifying.
And Luke. Oh, Luke. Why did he need to be a cop? Aren’t there already enough cop shows on TV? I mean, I guess you could say that this was the showrunners’ nod at the New York’s werewolf pack’s hideout, but it is a stretch. Bottom line, dude running a bookshop is nowhere near as sexy as a dude being a detective. You know, to showrunners. Give me a book shop owner over a cop any day.
Remember when Jocelyn’s friend finally tracks down Clary and explains what’s actually wrong with Jocelyn at the end of City Of Ashes? Causing Clary to dangerously Portal herself into Alicante in City of Glass so that she can find the warlock who helped Jocelyn and try and undo what her mother did? Yeah … Jocelyn just gives the cure to that chick before she, Jocelyn, downs the potion and is kidnapped. Why? Why was that point of tension removed? I do not understand at all.
And The Circle. The Circle may be my biggest problem with the show. The Circle having been disbanded is part of the Shadowhunters’ history. Like, it’s why the Lightwoods and Hodge are where they are. It’s why there are so many rules about interactions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters. To have The Circle still exist mean there is a huge chunk of backstory missing. And Clare had such a rich backstory to the cast of The Mortal Instruments that she has written a prequel trilogy, will write another one, and has announced that she is working on a graphic novel about The Circle. To change this fundamental fact of this universe’s history … well. It’s just dickish.
Good God, and the acting. This point actually feeds into my next tweet (please ignore the typo. I was mad):
How many of you out there are familiar with shows like Home and Away or Neighbours? Aussie soap operas. I’m not sure what the international equivalents would be. Days of Our Lives, maybe? Imagine people overacting while saying the most contrived things possible. That was this show. Ugh, it was awful. Especially, ESPECIALLY, because Clare’s dialogue is one of the things that makes her legendary. And to have her sparkling banter between characters reduced to cliches was murder. Words have been murdered. There should be an inquest.
This one totally bugged me. First of all, the Lightwoods and Jace only have Hodge at the beginning. This not only allowed Clare the freedom to have her teenage characters running around without parental supervision, but it also paved the way for the strained family relations within the Lightwood clan. Not to mention, it made Hodge’s betrayal that much more heartbreaking when it is discovered.
And the technology thing? Like, Shadowhunters are supposed to be these weird badass warriors who have no idea how the mundane world, the world they protect, actually functions. In Alicante, mundane technology doesn’t work. Shadowhunters have their own technology because of this. All of the screens shown in the Institute would not have been there. And even if they had been there, the Shadowhunters would not have known how to use them.
“That’s a mango.” Simon stared at Jace. Sometimes it really is like Shadowhunters were from an alien planet.
“I don’t think I’ve seen one of those that wasn’t already cut up,” Jace mused. “I like mangoes.”
Simon grabbed the mango and tossed it into the cart. “Great. What else do you like?”
Jace pondered for a moment. “Tomato soup,” he said finally.
“Tomato soup? You want tomato soup and a mango for dinner?”
Jace shrugged. “I don’t really care about food.”
There are so many other things wrong with this series. Like how I am fairly sure Clary is given Isabelle’s (pretty much) signature pendant, which has a centuries old history. And how Jace is nowhere near as charming as he should be. And how there is no Hodge. And how the steles are waved over the skin to make the runes appear, instead of being used as almost portable tattoo machines.
(Actually this one really pissed me off. Clary’s drawing ability and her powers to create new runes are symbiotic. They feed into each other. And to have the steles be, essentially, magic wands, takes this away. Another key plot point gone.)
But if I talk about them too much, this post will go on way longer. And it’s already gone on for far too long.
There are, of course, arguments for why things get changed when books are translated to the screen. But if Hunger Games can stay true to its source material and The Green Mile can essentially be Stephen King’s novel word-for-word, then why is it that my absolute favourite series keeps getting shafted by Hollywood? Please, can someone tell me that?
I’m going to end this on a positive. In fact, the only positive that came out of this entire shambles of a pilot: