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“Shadowhunters” review – 1/5 stars

The+first+episode+of+%22Shadowhunters%22+aired+on+Jan.+12+on+Freeform.+Catch+it+on+Tuesdays+at+9%2F8+central+or+watch+the+first+two+episodes+for+free+on+Hulu.
The first episode of

The first episode of "Shadowhunters" aired on Jan. 12 on Freeform. Catch it on Tuesdays at 9/8 central or watch the first two episodes for free on Hulu.

The first episode of "Shadowhunters" aired on Jan. 12 on Freeform. Catch it on Tuesdays at 9/8 central or watch the first two episodes for free on Hulu.

by Maya Valluru, Asst. News Editor

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A tumultuous city inhabited by angels, demons, vampires and fairies sounds similar to any setting of a fantasy book found on the shelves of a Barnes and Noble. But when an author intertwines this seemingly trite reality with the discovery of one’s supernatural identity, impeccably interesting drama, thrilling plot twists, and human characteristics to all of these fantastical creatures, you get the “The Mortal Instruments” series.

“Shadowhunters”, the television series based on “The Mortal Instruments” books, aired its first episode on Freeform, formerly known as ABC Family, on Jan. 12. Unfortunately, it provides an insipid interpretation of author Cassandra Clare’s epic tale. Clare released the first book in the series, “City of Bones”, in 2007. Freeform did not include her in the process of making the television show.

While audiences who have never read the seven-part book series by Clare may find the show vaguely entertaining, the dedicated fans of the writer will most likely feel utter disappointment.

The episodes follow the basic premise of the first novel, in which Clary Fray, played by Katherine McNamara, is a young New York City native who discovers she is a member of an ancient society of angel-human hybrids called shadowhunters. These superhumans kill demons and protect creatures like werewolves and vampires called Downworlders.

The goal of ABC Family’s executives to appeal to younger audiences with the network’s name-change has sadly seeped into the making of “Shadowhunters”. This show seems to be some sort of experiment in the station’s reinvention and falls short in its attempt to be chic.

The greatest setback of the show as per the first three episodes is the disparity between the plot in the novels and that on the screen. The writers of the show continually throw in their own hackneyed versions of the story to fill spaces between a few plot markers found in the novels. For example, continuous scenes about social drama between Clary and her friends remove her independent and mature qualities so evident in the books.  Freeform transformed a fresh young adult tale that sold millions of copies for its originality and thrilling quality into a bromidic on-screen version that aspires to mimic the vibes of shows MTV and ABC Family has been showing for years.

Freeform seemingly mocks Cassandra Clare’s grand, intricate world full of epic visual elements and archaic undertones with instead presenting viewers with a sexualized degenerate rendition. This is most evident in the portrayal of the character of Isabelle Lightwood, played by Emeraude Toubia. While she is described in the novels as beautiful and flirtatious with a powerful feminine aura, Freeform has costumed her in latex leotards and given her cheap, seductive lines that infer her inability to fight demons or make friends without kissing them first.

The performance of Katherine McNamara, who plays the main character Clary Fray, also disheartens the viewer. Sure, one can blame the screenwriters for producing weak scripts, but her lack of acting skills truly shines through when she tries in vain to look confused about her identity or to express determination in following her destiny to become a demon-killing warrior.

Also, the few scenes that feature Harry Shum Jr. as Magnus Bane, the High Warlock of Brooklyn, indicate that his performance in this series will definitely not be as laudatory as his role in the hit show “Glee”. 

In addition, flashback sequences and montage-edits contribute to the show’s juvenile, Disney-Channel aesthetic. Untimely, disruptive and disconnected, the repetitions of some of the most banal scenes coaxes a viewer into helplessly bursting into laughter or raising an eyebrow.

The writers should not assume that viewers can’t take a hint from one showing of the highlighted word demon on the flashing neon sign marking the entrance to a club called Pandemonium. (You can probably guess what sort of creature abounds in that building.)

While the majority of engaged viewers will probably not continue to follow the show, others who simply look to enjoy a television series may still find it entertaining. The scenery remains dynamic, the special effects used to bring to life the demons and Silent Brothers (who have eyes and mouths sewn shut) are impressive, and most of the costuming properly portrays the personalities of the characters as described in the books. The performances of Dominic Sherwood, who plays Jace Wayland, and Alberto Rosende as Simon Lewis do not disappoint and offer some sense of quality amidst their peers’ subpar work.

However, whether one is a dedicated fan of the original Shadow World created by Cassandra Clare or not, the overall quality of the storytelling, acting, and shooting will most likely cause teens to flip their remotes to reruns of “Grey’s Anatomy” or “One Tree Hill.”

From the perspective of both a dedicated fan of the seven-book epic as well as a teenager searching for an entertaining new show to binge, by my grace, I would give this show 1 star out of 5.

 

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“Shadowhunters” review – 1/5 stars