Developed by Ed Decter, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments is a TV adaptation of one of my favourite book series by Cassandra Clare. Clare’s young adult fantasy series The Mortal Instruments was previously adapted into a film in 2013, but was slated by critics and previously planned sequels were scrapped ending this first attempt at adapting the series for film.
However, the TV-gods persisted and alas three years later a loose TV adaptation has been born.
Being a massive fan of the book series, saying I was excited for this show was an understatement. But I regret to say that I was left feeling a little underwhelmed and disappointed by the pilot episode; the acting by most of the cast seemed sub-standard, apart from maybe Harry Shum Jr. (of Glee fame) and relatively unknown British actor Dominic Sherwood.
The rest of the cast start off a little cringe-worthy to watch, slightly reminiscent of a high school media production, but slowly and surely they seem to get their acting shit together as the show finds its footing.
Just like any adaptation, some elements present in the books have been changed for the TV show through the invention of completely new characters and colour-blind casting. However at its core, the central plot of the series has stayed the same. It focuses on a girl called Clary (Katherine McNamara) who is thrust into a world of angels, demons, and warlocks on her eighteenth birthday as she discovers she’s descended from a race of demon-fighting superhumans; Shadowhunters. I would’ve personally settled for a car for my birthday but, you know, whatever…
And true to any teenager-focussed TV show, every single bloody member of the cast is at least a 9/10 on the hot damn scale. Don’t believe me? I have two words for you; Matthew Daddario.
A main theme of the books, which has been translated well over into the show, is that of prejudice and discrimination. The series revolves around a race of people who indiscriminately kill demons and exercise control over benevolent half-demons. In this scenario, it’s the Shadowhunters who are of superiority and the half-demons who are, you might say, the minority subject to discrimination. Throughout the series, this supernatural minority is trying to get equal rights to the superior Shadowhunters; sound familiar to anyone?
This message of accepting those who are different is even more overtly explored with Alec’s (Matthew Daddario) struggle with his sexuality and feelings, but I do appreciate the subtle parallels with the treatment and struggle of the half-demons on the show.
The effects and make-up used on the show is very similar to older supernatural shows like Buffy and Charmed, so you’d think the effects might have improved over the last 20 years, but I guess a freshman show like Shadowhunters wouldn’t exactly have a stellar budget. The soundtrack is brilliant though, packed with music by relatively unknown artists such as Fleurie, Mas Ysa, and Ruelle who recorded the theme for the show especially.
All in all, Shadowhunters is only on its first series and just like other shows in TV history it very well could improve over time; its already been renewed for a second series due to air in early 2017, with the first available to binge the hell out of on Netflix.