Shadowhunters: Review & Cancellation Talk

*Warning: Major Spoilers*


Shadowhunters is a supernatural drama based on the hugely popular book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The series follows eighteen year old Clary Fray, who discovers she comes from a long line of Shadowhunters, human-angel hybrids who protect the human world from demons. Clary spends most of season one trying to find her mother (Jocelyn) who has been abducted by her ex-husband, Valentine (a rogue Shadowhunter intent on killing all demons – good or bad.) She meets a group of young Shadowhunters, Jace, Izzy and Alec who help her put the missing pieces together. Along the way she acquires new allies, for example: the high warlock of Brooklyn Magnus Bane, her mother’s life long friend and secret werewolf Luke Galloway, and her geeky best friend Simon Lewis.

That is a basic breakdown of the show. But of course, each character has their own storyline and love stories to go alongside the main plot. Unlike some fantasy-based TV shows, Shadowhunters incorporates all types of creatures into one story. Vampires, werewolves, warlocks, seelies and Shadowhunters all exist in the same world and interact. I liked that element, also how they introduced a hierarchy. Everyone but the Shadowhunters are seen as ‘Downworlders’ and treated like second class citizens. I think this was a good parallel between real world hierarchy and supernatural hierarchy. It felt very relevant and very current (especially when you consider Trump’s latest antics in America).

During the series, Clary is supposedly coming to terms with being half angel and trying to understand what that means. However she learns to fight and defend herself way too quickly. In episode 5 of season one Alec joins Clary to help her train, and her skills seem way too advanced for someone just learning about her angelic abilities. She never really seems to be learning, she just seems to know. And considering season 1 and 2 are set across something like 20 days, this just makes it even harder to believe she would be that advanced at fighting. By the end of season 2 (which I’m assuming is day 20) she manages to take down the one man everyone has been trying to kill for decades, Valentine. Aside from the obvious plot holes like her sudden ability to fight like a ninja, the show is enjoyable to watch, mostly due to the relationships it portrays.

On June 4th 2018, it was publicly announced that Freeform had cancelled the series and had ordered two additional episodes to wrap up the end of season 3. Since then fans have been outraged at the shows cancellation when there were still so many storylines and developments for the characters to make. This sprung the #SaveShadowhunters campaign, which has reached high. Over 127,000 public supporters have signed a petition (myself included) to revive the show for a fourth season, and that number continues to grow. As well as this, there is a public fundraiser under the #SaveShadowhunters campaign which has raised over $12,000 for the Trevor Project charity. This charity focuses on suicide prevention among the LGBTQIA+ community.

The shows impact has reached much deeper than just an enjoyable fantasy-supernatural based show. Two of the main characters are seen as huge influences for the LGBT+ community. The character of Alec Lightwood being a gay man and the character of Magnus Bane being a bisexual man. I think it’s an important subject, especially for accurate representation of bisexuality, which (in my opinion) has been lacking in media or completely misrepresented (but that’s a story for another day.)

In the comments of the #SaveShadowhunters campaign, many viewers have spoken to the effect the show had on their lives. One supporter wrote: “Also, how great it is to see two major characters who are in a committed INTERRACIAL relationship!” This referring to the Alec/Magus relationship which has been abbreviated to ‘Malec’.

I commend the show, but even more so the books, which first encapsulated an interracial gay and bisexual couple as two of their main characters. This is something TV has been lacking and the cancellation of the show means many young viewers who may be coming to terms with their sexuality are losing that representation they NEED. Shadowhunters creates a conversation, not just between the fans, but also the outside world. It rightly represents bisexuality for once, rather than the age-old trick of overexplaining and often demeaning what it means to be bisexual. In Shadowhunters, Magnus just IS bisexual, nothing more needs to be said.

Shadowhunters subverted my expectations. The show was less about acceptance of race or sexuality and more centred on the ‘Angel world’ vs the ‘Downworld’ which was a nice change to the usual storylines about sexuality and oppression. The oppression is still there, but it’s not completely related to sexuality. To me, it didn’t feel like a cliché storyline at all, but rather a new way of talking about issues that are still relevant. This is why I believe the show should be picked up by another network for a season 4 and hopefully continuous seasons. These are conversations we need to be having, not silencing. Shadowhunters manages to have these deeply important conversation in such a subversive way, that anyone watching not for political or social reasons can still thoroughly enjoy the show.

Shadowhunters is fun, action packed and still has many storylines to go, for all characters involved. Despite some obvious plotholes, I think any show that can encourage this much support fundraising for charity, is a show that deserves to stay.

If (like me) you love the show, then click the link below to support the #SaveShadowhunters campaign:


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