THE MAGICIANS: The Show That Got Me Through The Last Week.
QUICK SUMMARY OF THE LAST 9 DAYS: Last Saturday my Mom called from the ER in Knoxville to say she had a wreck that she did not remember and she was at the hospital. That was about all she could tell me and she could tell the doctors even less in terms of her medical history. Nikki heard me one the phone and immediately packed a bag and helped me pack mine after I was off. We hit the road. I came back briefly Monday night to deliver Nikki back only to get up at 2am the next morning so I could get back in time for doctors to make their rounds. The short story? It was only a 1-car wreck that they THINK was caused by Mom having a seizure, everything else about her health has not changed, we just have a clearer picture about how we should be monitoring some things. And she can’t drive for 6 months which is tricky since she works full time. Mom was finally discharged on Friday and I came home for a few days before returning tomorrow.
But what I want to talk about instead is the show The Magicians.
First off – I tried to read the books a long time ago and could not get into them. Never made it past the first chapter, I don’t think. When the show came on it looked like a mature Harry Potter so I gave it a try too, only I could not get into it past the first episode. So this is not a show I ever thought I would love.
Except that a few people I know will periodically reference loving it and my Mom was in the hospital and I had time to kill and needed major distractions and so last week I killed 3 seasons of the show and it is now one of my favorites. Let me tell you why.
The Serious Reasons
- It is very sexually forward thinking. I don’t usually like more “grown-up” or “mature” sex shows, and this one actually kinda tones down over the seasons, but it definitely presents a very liberated view of sex which I actually found very reassuring in a show about a bunch of young adults. They show a lot of examples how sex can be just sex and lovely and beautiful in that, but how it can also build intimacy and relationships and therefore can be hurtful. They talk a LOT about consent. Even in the magical realm where animals have intelligence and trees have will power, there are a lot of plot twists that hinge on someone finally recognizing the necessity of consent and it’s humorous but also very poignant. I just enjoy how the show doesn’t dismiss sex as something without possible ripples, but it also doesn’t treat ever sexual escapade as scandalous.
- It gives a lot of power to relationships without sex. In a lot of shows, friendship is a secondary connection to something romantic or sexual. But this show really allows friendships to grow and be rich and for two people to love each other, no matter the gender, even in the absence of sex. One of the most intense relationships is between two people who were childhood friends, and one even had a crush on the other for awhile, but the show never goes to the “Sex” well with these two and instead lets their friendship grow and thrive and be intense, without the complication of sex.
- It shows creative ways to explore homosexuality and homosexual relationships. In one magical realm it is assumed that all Kings with have a husband and a wife. NBD. And yet they also reflect on the damage that can be done on the earth realm when homosexuality is not accepted. They both allow bisexuality and homosexuality be a boring trait, but also allow it to have power when it is not accepted. And in my favorite episode of television EVER (S3:05) you see the development of a beautiful love story and family and nothing about gender or sexuality is important, you only feel and see the love and the commitment of a lifetime and nothing else matters. It’s beautiful.
The Fun Reasons
- This show knows how to use pop culture references. They get dished out in very meta ways, of course, like when a geek character gets a visit from himself from another timeline and that version of himself says, “Help me ______, You’re My Only Hope.” And of course the character sees that exactly for what it is and comments the him from another timeline for also loving Star Wars. But pop culture references are also dished out as insults to clueless members of other realms meaning they’re there mainly for the audience and I adore that. They also call non-magical people Muggles with strict acknowledgement of the world of Harry Potter. And my favorite pop culture references of all were in one episode when two characters from Earth needed a way to communicate in a magical realm and so they relied on Pop Culture references. A character is trying to tell another character that they’re being used as an unknowing spies and he does it with Battlestar Gallactic references. “You’re Grace Park!” Then he says, “Someone is XOXO Gossip Girling our shit!” And the most hilarious part of this whole conversation and the show gives you subtitles incase you don’t get the references. THE EVEN THROW IN A REFERENCE TO THE MUSICAL EPISODE OF BUFFY. It’s great. One of the most creative uses of pop culture references ever. (If you are not at all interested in the show but want to see this great scene, it’s here
- This show has a musical episode. Actually, there’s a great musical scene that happens to someone trapped in a dream world early in season one which is the scene that hooked me on the show. But it also has an episode where there is a realm of constant partying (if you stop having fun, you get attacked) and they do some great plays on how to perform under duress and the final “group number” so to speak is beautiful – both in the plotline of the story – and in the actually performance on screen. It doesn’t take itself too seriously but it delivers the punch anyway. I love it.
- Margo and Eliot. These are two characters who kinda seem annoying early in the first season, they’re overly sexual, party constantly, and entertain themselves by mocking everyone else. But it doesn’t take long for you to discover how rich their relationship really is and over the realms and the timelines the two of them together are just the most fun thing in the world. I hate it when they get separated for the point of plot because they are at their best together. Margo can deliver a line that adds layers of emotion (often rage, she’s great at rage) in just a few words. I just adore them. They are very fun.
Anyway. The only thing I don’t love about this show is the character of Alice. And I don’t HATE her. I just don’t LOVE her. She has some weird story arcs that at times seem like an attempt to make us like her more, but it just doesn’t work for me. I think it’s the actress, honestly. She doesn’t seem to have much variation in the way she delivers her angst or frustration. Her character has had several reasons to be different, as with any fantasy show there’s possessions, losses of soul, alternate timelines, etc – plenty of story arcs and plot devices where we could see a different side of her. And we get that a LOT with the other characters. But with her, it still always seems to be the same and I don’t like her enough to enjoy that.
Luckily it’s an ensemble cast so – you know – even if you dislike a character there’s 7 more pushing the story forward.
Do you watch it?