‘Shadowhunters’ is the Best and Worst Adaptation on Television

Savannah Aleksic

Book adaptations have never been more popular, and a lot of them are geared towards teenagers. Teen and adult fans want the characters and story they love to be brought to the screen exactly how they imagined. But adapting a book series, especially a beloved one with millions of fans all over the world, is a challenge.

SPOILERS AHEAD, both for Shadowhunters Season 1 and The Mortal Instruments book series.

cast title shadowhunters

When a book is adapted for the screen, things change. Whether the changes are for the better or worse, fans often have strong feelings about changes that are made. One of the biggest recent adaptations to the screen is The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Freeform picked up the series in 2015, and the first episode aired early 2016 as the TV show Shadowhunters.

When the TV series was first announced, fans were skeptical since the first book had already been adapted into a film starring Lily Collins. The movie flopped and all the fans wanted to do was forget that it existed.

cast freeform shadowhunters

The Shadowhunters had a rough pilot episode that rewrote multiple events in the books, but fans were still hopeful. Even though the show hasn’t stayed as true to the books as some (or most) fans would have liked, it is still a good TV show. It had a rough first season that dealt with common issues such as bad acting, cringe-worthy effects, and a soap opera script, but season two was an improvement.

Aging Up the Characters

One of the biggest changes is that the main character Clary is fifteen years old in the books, but in the show, she is just turning eight. She dresses differently as well. In the books, Clary doesn’t seem to care about her appearance all that much and is overall a nerd like her best friend Simon, but in the show, she wears clothes that hug her body and other sexy and revealing attire.

Changing Relationships

In the books, Raphael Santiago is the vampire who turns Simon. This task falls to Camille Belcourt in the television series, but the writers wrote in a relationship between Isabelle Lightwood and Raphael that wasn’t in the books at all. Although they have a relationship, Raphael tells her that he’s “not interested in sex” and is understood to be asexual in the sh

Still Worth Watching

As a whole, is it best to keep a show or movie adaptation as close to the original work as possible or is it okay to stray away from the original content to surprise the fans of the books? It would be nice to have an adaptation that is exactly like the books, but it’s also refreshing to see how the showrunners and screenwriters tackle the characters and the world they’re given to work with and bring to life. Having seen season two and enjoyed it as a whole, I can promise that this series has potential and continues to improve. If you’re hesitant to start or continue the series because of its lackluster first season, give it a second chance.

Savannah Aleksic
Savannah Aleksic is basically just a big nerd known for spending time in front of the TV either playing video games or watching her favorite TV shows. When she's not doing that, you can find her with her nose in a NYT Bestseller or typing up the next great American Novel.
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