Am I alone in anything that says SyFy Original makes me cringe in disgust? I think that is deeply seeded in that the shows and movies typical of the channel when I was in college were beyond ridiculous. Do you remember the Skeleton Man? Yeah, that had a very big part in my skepticism going into The Magicians. I mean, c’mon. Even the premise sounds so Harry Potter rip off. Maybe even Harry Potter and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And the main guy, Quentin? Oh, good God, what a cringe-worthy emo boy. Here, watch the trailer:
It’s about magic being real in the world we live in today. But they’re older students and that basically means they’re gonna insert random sex stuff and try to make it edgy and it’s got the budget of a SyFy show. Seriously. I went in jut knowing this was going to be a festering turd.
I Was So Freakin’ Wrong.
They do have random sex stuff. And some is forced, it’s true. There is even a character that makes my husband and I argue over which action is her stupidest and can she top it? How on Earth can Julia be that freakin’ stupid? And yeah, emo boy, Quentin, is basically all the things you’d expect. Kind of annoying, But I literally don’t even care about any of that. Because in every single episode I’ve seen there has been at least one moment that has made me laugh out loud. Most of the time I laugh until my sides hurt.
Because there’s a hilarious opportunity that most fiction gets wrong when imagining magic in our world: The absurdity. Of course centaurs, who are totally real, would be called Bronies. Of course when you get pregnant, you find out by a talking rabbit screaming “PREGNANT!” in your face. That’s your magical pregnancy test. You hold the bunny and if it screams pregnant; you are.
There is no chosen One.
Basically every fantasy show or book ever has this premise: There can be only one. Or one is going to stand alone above the others. And this show starts out following Quentin so closely you think it’s going to be him. But as the show progresses, they focus more on other characters more and more so you’re not sure it’s going to be Q anymore.
In fact, the show sets you up several times to think “oooooh, this is where she comes into her powers!” or “Oh yeah, he’s totally going to kick ass now!” But no. There is no magic wand. I mean, there actually are magic items, but even in a world where magic exists, there are no shortcuts to learning a skill.
And it is Edgy.
You don’t want to watch this show with your kids. There’s a shit ton of profanity. (Which is entirely appropriate for the scenarios.) There’s floating magical sex. There’s magic induced orgies and threesomes. Some seem random. Most seem applicable.
There is a fair amount of fighting. Surprising amount of blood and guts. But it doesn’t feel forced. And there are some subplots that are heart breaking that involve sexual abuse and rape. None of which seem gratuitous. They all serve to further the plot. It actually does connect you further to the show.
The Actors Love Their Characters
And it shines through. I watched a Comic Con Panel with the cast of the Magicians and was honestly surprised how much the cast lived in their roles. You can tell Julia does not film with the rest of the cast because they’re not bonded with her. And that the rest of the cast has bonded. They ask a question to the panel “Who s most like their character?” and they can’t decide. Every time they decide, another actor says or does something accidentally in character. Each time someone says they’re like their character, they absolutely gush. They love their characters. They are their characters. They were cast so perfectly.
And FYI, I don’t really like Stella Maeve much more than Julia.
The Series is based on Books
Which I haven’t read but am planning on. It’s in my cart on amazon. Reading is one of my favorite things to do. But when I actually pick up a book… my kids mostly survive on fruit snacks while mommy neglects them egregiously.
So get to it.
Season 1 is on Netflix. It’s all on Amazon. Most is on Hulu. If you have On Demand, it’s there, too. And the new episodes of season 2 are airing Wed at 9/8c. If you have a slightly crass sense of humor, enjoy absurdity and magic: This is for you, man. It really is.