TV Review – Shadowhunters


WARNING: May Contain Spoilers

Shadowhunters is the newest incarnation of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. It’s release date fittingly coincided with another reincarnation – that of ABC Family in the form of Freeform.

Lilly Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower in The Mortal Instruments: The Mortal Cup

As many may already be aware, Shadowhunter is not the first attempt to adapt The Mortal Instruments to screen. Constantine Films release The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in 2013 which starred Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror, Stuck in Love) and Jamie Campbell Bower (Sweeney Todd). The film flopped for reason unknown – although, I’d wager Constantine Films was banking on a fan base that didn’t yet exist to fuel the films climb to Franchise stardom such as the likes of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Saying that, the series is well known today. Constantine Films have been awarded a second chance to tell the story that they are clearly passionate about. They have every chance of succeeding this time around. After all, even Netflix saw potential in this new incarnation.

Katherine McNamara and Dominic Sherwood in Freeform’s Shadowhunters

Shadowhunters follows Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara) as she witnesses the unexplainable unfold before her eyes, people walking about unseen to human eyes and demons assuming the form of the people she loves. Witnessing a murder, Clary reveals herself to the Shadowhunters for what she is, one of them. But at the same time she leads the Circle to her mother, Jocelyn (Maxim Roy). From there on, she is irrevocably thrust into the world of Shadowhunters, a world where the creatures of the old tales all live in some kind of state of accord. She is far from safe however. The Circle wants something that was stolen from them, the Mortal Cup, and with Jocelyn out for count, their only source of information is Clary. But Clary has no memories of her true life… until Jace (Dominic Sherwood, Vampire Academy) saves her from a demon and properly introduces her to the world hidden before her eyes.

Shadowhunters is well thought out and, having recently received a crash course in all things Mortal Instruments, it is clear that Constantine Films returned to the source material and the author to develop this eerie tale of discovery. Shadowhunters is a coming of age story which understands character growth. In the first instance, we watch as Cary takes a huge step towards a normalised future, believing that all in her life is right and safe. In the next, her mother is snatched from her and her world is turned upside down.

Katherine McNamara (Clary), Dominic Sherwood (Jace), Emeraude Toubia (Izzy) and Matthew Daddario (Alec) in Shadowhunters

Some have said that they don’t actually get the chance to warm up to Clary, but I seriously disagree. The pilot alone paints a very clear picture of who she is and who she was raised by. Clary is struck on an emotional roller-coaster in that one episode alone and it only gets worse. She goes from cocky confidence to weak and unsure to almost fearfully determined. If that isn’t well-calculated character development, then I don’t know what is. Clary transitions from a girl who has never controlled her life or her memories to a woman making her own decisions and controlling her actions, filled with fear or not.

Yes, in some instances, the dialogue is somewhat lacklustre and forced and they may use flashbacks that do nothing but deliver information but this is a package deal. Shadowhunters isn’t defined by its plot devices and its dialogue, it is defined by its three-dimensional characters, its beautiful world building and its music which lends the whole show an eerie mystique which can’t help but remind you of its purpose: to tell a story about supernatural beings.

What did you expect?

Even The Hunger Games has some blah moments. There is more potential in this show than some I’ve seen being talked up. ABC couldn’t have chosen a better show to represent its new goals. Shadowhunters is dark, different and intriguing. The potential is exponential and the story is compelling. I compel people to look beyond the surface of those tiny errors of a show finding its feet and to remember that everyone makes mistakes but those mistakes do not define what is to come.

Skyler Samuels in The Nine Lives of Chloe King

Shadowhunters reminds me of The Nine Lives of Chloe King (starring Skyler Samuels from The DuffScream Queens) another ABC Family show which followed supernatural beings. The only difference is The Nine Lives of Chloe King was cut short just as it found legs. I reverently hope Shadowhunters is given the chance to grow that The Nine Lives Chloe King was denied.

Now, I’m off to read the book. See I said it was a compelling story.

Catch Shadowhunters on Netflix every Wednesday (One day after the US)