Last Tuesday was an ultra exciting day on television. We were graced with the mid-season premiere of Pretty Little Liars – with the intriguing #5YearsForward jump – and the series premiere of Shadowhunters, the new series based on Cassandra Clare’s book series The Mortal Instruments. Obviously we are obsessed with both of these fandoms and as the good fangirls we are, we’re dedicating an entire week to discussing these thrilling television debuts. Welcome to PLL/Shadowhunters Week on My Fangirl Life!
On Tuesday we had the pleasure of watching the first two episodes of Freeform (aka ABC Family)’s Shadowhunters, a tv adaption of the YA series The Mortal Instruments. It was touch-and-go as to whether we’d see it at all, seeing as we are Canadian and ABC decided to only air it in the US, but Netflix has done us all a solid and carried it internationally. As for watching the first two episodes… I’m good at using the internet to get what I want, but that’s all beside the point. I said that I had the pleasure of watching the first two episodes, and I meant it. Here’s my honest Shadowhunters review.
For the record (and as per our Spoilers Guide) I will specify that this post is spoiler-free… especially if you’ve read the books. There will be mentions of characters, places, and events but nothing that will wreck the show for you.
Let’s first break down the show into its three basic parts, as I see it: The Characters, The Plot, & The Composition.
I will preface this by saying that I love the Mortal Instrument characters. While I find the whole (partially) fictional world Cassandra Clare created for this beloved book series incredibly interesting & compelling, what really drew me into the stories was the people. So I was adamant that these lovable personalities be done right when this show aired.
After the premiere, my opinion was that the characters were still as great as ever, but the acting was leaving a bit to be desired. Everyone was a bit wooden or, alternatively, a bit cheesy. But isn’t this always the case in a pilot? No one has settled into the skin of their characters yet… no one except Isaiah Mustafa who plays Luke Garroway (now a badass cop!) and was acting the heck out of that episode. If that name sounds familiar you may relate to this exchange that happened between Justine & I:
Me: “Do I know him?”
Justine: “He’s the Old Spice guy.”
Me: “Oh fun! Look at him… actually acting… like really acting… like the most of anyone in this show.”
After episode 2 my initial misgivings were already starting to fade. I am a fan of the casting. These talented folks are starting to look more comfortable with their new personas. Plus everyone physically looks perfect for their character and is nailing the attitude. Jace – On Point. Simon – On Point. Izzy – On Point. Alec – On Point. The only noticeable variants I saw was Luke now being a badass (a welcome change) and Clary being less stupid & annoying… maybe even not stupid and annoying at all (a super welcome change). Side Note: I love Katherine McNamara (aka Clary). She’s so cute… and also apparently brilliant & perfect. Ugh.
The main take away is that I like the cast & I want them to succeed, which is half the battle. If people are pulling for you then there’s way more leeway. You can be a bit cheesy here or need a bit more growth there. If we’re on your side then we’ll stick with you until the potential we see has been realized.
The start of the pilot is admittedly rushed. I felt a bit panicked as we frantically switched scenes, trying to meet all of our new characters. Wait who is that? Where are we now? Did they just say demons? Shadow World, what? Ok… that wasn’t me. I have read the books multiple times and knew exactly what was going on. But if I had’t, would I still get it? I don’t know (I just said I’ve read the books). Either way I was happy when things levelled out and scenes lengths increased. Even this experienced member of the fandom felt more comfortable to settle in to the story.
I was intrigued to see where this tv show would go plot-wise. Would they follow the storyline of the book? Or would they take the known characters on new adventures? My guess is that we’ll see a bit of both… in the style of Game of Thrones or Gossip Girl, season 1 is likely to be pretty true to the source material with variations as time goes on. It’s looking like this will be the case after episode 2.
Of course there will be variations too though. We’ll get new side stories, which might be the most exciting part. And we’ll see some concepts morph into ‘more logical for scene’ versions of the original story. Like shadowhunters using technology. Let’s be serious, this is more realistic than the book’s story of them being totally out of touch with the world. Yes, they see the Shadow World but they also live in the actual real world too. Or like Magnus owning Pandemonium. Huzzah for now having a place for the group to hang out. Every show needs it (see: Friends & Central Perk, PLL & The Brew, One Tree Hill & Tric, The OC & The Bait Shop, Chicago Fire/PD/Med & Molly’s, Girl Meets World & Topanga’s, How I Met Your Mother & Maclaren’s, Nashville & The Bluebird, The My Fangirl Life Team & Rosie’s).
Also, Haha Chernobyl ?ﾟﾘﾂ?
There’s not much to say here except that by the end of episode 2 Shadowhunters is kind of killing it. Visually, it looks great. the effects are surprisingly well done. The demons are weird but scary. The seraph blade swords look intense. And the colouring is gorgeous & totally on point. It’s dark but also somehow vibrant. Perfect. What really impressed me more though was the soundtrack. I wanted to download every song that play during both episodes. It was totally top 40 while also being haunting & dark… and fun… Perfect x2.
All of that is excellent background information (If I do say so myself), but what did I really think of Shadowhunters when it comes down to it? Using the My Fangirl Life Rating System (where everything is ranked out of 10 feels) I give tv’s Shadowhunters…
7 out of 10 Feels: ?ﾟﾘﾬ?ﾟﾘﾱ?ﾟﾤﾓ?ﾟﾘﾎ⚪️⚪️⚪️ with lots of potential for growth!
Now all we need is for this show to be wildly popular. So popular that they decide to do a spin-off series set in Victorian London… because any loyal Cassandra Clare readers know that The Infernal Devices is 10 time better than The Mortal Instruments. ❤️ Tessa – ❤️ Jem – ❤️?￢ﾝﾤ️ Will
Love & Luck,