Binge Watch: Shadowhunters

I love campy entertainment. Movies, TV – if it’s awesomely bad, if it’s angst-y and teenager-y, it’s for me. So I knew I would love “Shadowhunters.”

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I work in entertainment PR. While promoting “The Mortal Instruments” movie, I was not shy about my fandom to all my serious, real-world adult work colleagues. I hoped my enthusiasm would rub off on their movie reviews, the box office, and YA film in general. But the movie… wow. It started out surprisingly good, then became the silly, over-the-top, angst-ridden YA hormone-fest reveling in its awesomely bad glory I’d hoped for. But the last 40 minutes were so atrocious that I had to leave the theater for fear the press would write, “The publicist was hiding behind her hair, laugh like a maniac.” And now I’ve written that anyway. (Note: if you want to see YA film adaptation at it’s awesomely bad best, watch “Beautiful Creatures.”)


Scarred by the movie, I resisted “Shadowhunters” on Fox Family/ABC Family/what the hell is Freeform for two seasons. Oh, how I missed out!

Please, please watch the first episode. It’s on Netflix. Then try this fun activity:

  1. Find someone who has never heard of “The Mortal Instruments” series
  2. Explain to them out loud what happens in the first episode
  3. See how far you get without feeling like a raving lunatic

This looks like a burlesque Medieval Times show, where Simon and Clary really didn’t want to get called up on stage.

The only way to describe my love for this show is to go character by character. Warning: Spoilers (if you haven’t read the books).

Clary Frey/Fairchild/Morgenstern: Far more annoying in the show than she is in the books, Clary drives all the action by convincing everyone to do the dumbest, most obviously wrong thing at every turn. She practically says, “But if we don’t speed walk into this trap, then we won’t have time to get through a whole book in every episode!” And she’s right. The show goes blindingly fast through story arcs that take chapters, or even entire novels, to be resolved. (This allows more time for Alec and Magnus to make out.) Clary’s has A+ hair and blinks a lot, and became an almost fully-trained Shadowhunter in, like, a week. I am not a fan of this actress (Katherine McNamara), but what can you do. She’s kinda growing on me.


Jace Wayland/Morgenstern/Lightwood/Herondale: At first I didn’t like this Jace at all, but now I really can’t remember why. He won me over with his elite Shadowhunting and  leather jacket-wearing. Jace is blond as the day is long and, of course, a bad boy with a heart of gold. Or demon blood. And Clary’s blood. Or not! Try to keep up. I think Dominic Sherwood does a surprisingly solid job with a role that calls for a ludicrous amount of sexy moping. (He’s constantly at 85% duck face.)


You can also see him in Taylor Swift’s video for “Style,” which needs a whole blog post of its own.

Alec Lightwood: Either Matthew Daddario is an uncomfortable guy, or he should win an Emmy for acting so awkward. That’s why he’s perfect as newly-out of the closet Alec! Or not perfect, but lookathimwhocares. There are actually some really sweet moments, like Alec and Magnus’ first date, where ol’ Matty is probably just being his vaguely-alarmed self. But if they pay you to act, call it acting. Did I mention that Shawdowhunters have runes? They’re like tattoos that give supernatural power and all of Alec’s important, oft-needed runes are under his shirt. Bad des… I mean great design. There’s some blank space there by his many abs. Give me a pen.


Isabelle Lightwood: Shadowhunter Spice (Stele Spice? Seraph Spice?) is doing all the boys’ work, while wearing five-inch heels. All I could think was “boobs” for the first six episodes (my husband walked past the TV a few times to see if this plot point had returned), but they finally give Isabelle (played by Emeraude Toubia) some real things to do. It’s a good thing Alec is gay, because sometimes Izzy looks like she thinks it’s a waste to be related to him and this show already has one Luke/Leia thing going on.


Simon Lewis: Simon is supposed to be annoying, and so he is. But he’s far less annoying here than in the Shadowhunter Academy books! That feels like a win. Even so, everyone is relieved – most of all the guy who plays Simon – when he get vampirized and actually has something to be neurotic about. Then he becomes pretty great. He’s exactly the best friend/rebound you need when you find out your current boyfriend is your brother. Then again when you find out he isn’t! (We’re not there yet. Wait till June.)


Magnus Bane: He’s the best character on the show. He’s almost us, the audience, thinking “Are you kidding me?” half the time. But he does it with panache and without seeming embarrassed about the jazz hands required to unleash his magic. And he looks just as happy when Alec starts kissing something or needing those ab-runes.


“Shadowhunters” Season 2, Part 2 will premiere on June 5. It has not yet been renewed for a third season. There are some ratings concerns, apparently [read this] , though it’s the 3rd-highest rated show on Freeform [source]. But with “Pretty Little Liars” ending, they need a new anchor, and “Shadowhunters” hasn’t proven to be it over two seasons. Clearly this means they need more sexy moping and ab runes! Let me into that writers room.

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