When I first learned that Cassandra Clare’s book series The Mortal Instruments was being adapted into the television show Shadowhunters for Freeform I was intrigued if not a tad skeptical. But even though it had been a few years since I read the series I had fond memories of my time with these characters and I was interested in seeing their world expand beyond the confines of the books. And I’m not going to lie I was really hoping to see more of Alec, Magnus, and Izzy’s world seeing as how in the books their time was really limited.
Okay, so let’s just get this out of the way, the first season of Shadowhunters was a hot mess. Everything from the writing to the acting to plot development was all over the place and practically unwatchable. Poor Clary & Jace were saddled with carrying the book’s plotline and as it were it seemed like it took forever to get to know them as characters outside the plot.
“I’m the same person I’ve always been. Now everything’s just out in the open.” – Alec Lightwood
Arguably the most popular storyline was between Magnus & Alec which is pretty amazing considering most of their story was told offscreen and the audience was expected to fill in the blanks. Which if you think about it is kind of fitting seeing as how that’s how they spent their time in the books too. It wasn’t until the penultimate episode titled “Malec” that the show’s writers finally figured out how to make them an integral part of the show outside of what they added to the main plotline. And don’t even get me started on Izzy, Simon, and Luke.
I suspect that many, like myself, stuck around because they were fans of the books and we wanted to see if there was any hope for improvement. Apparently, someone behind the scenes thought things weren’t going as well as they could have because soon a new showrunner and writing staff were brought in for the second season. And thank goodness they did because Season 2A was leaps and bounds better than the first season while Season 2B only got better with every episode.
Both Kat McNamara and Dominic Sherwood managed to settle nicely into their roles which allowed them to bring Clary and Jace to life in a way they hadn’t been able to do during the first thirteen episodes. While the writers finally seemed to recognize what they had with the popular ship Malec because both Magnus and Alec’s respective characters started to occupy more storyline space both together and separately.
“I can’t help but think that… every time I turn, it… this… is what love got me.” – Maia Roberts
One of the best changes was the full-throated acceptance that with their band of Shadowhunters and Downworlders they could tell stories that mattered. Stories that were relevant to the world outside of theirs. When Magnus made the gut-wrenching choice to side with the Seelie Queen for the betterment of his people we cried for him because we knew how hard that choice was for him to make. When Maia bravely told Simon just how it was she became a werewolf our hearts broke for her only to be reminded just how strong of a person she was and always had been. We cheered on Alec with every step he took towards being his authentic self and we proudly watched as Clary began to embrace her role as a Shadowhunter.
Shadowhunters is more than a show about hunting demons, it’s a show about friendship, love, family, and how they bond us together in a way that makes us stronger. Season two was not without its faults but from where they were in the first season to where they are now Shadowhunters has shown itself to be a show worth watching.