Review: The Magicians Review: The Magicians
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Related Review: The Magicians

BY LINDSEY HANNAH

“The Magicians,” based on the book series by Lev Grossman, is not the kind of show that can be summed up in a few sentences. If I were to try, it would appear to be just another run-of-the-mill young adult magic-y drama, riding the wave of the tsunami that was the Harry Potter craze. This, however, could not be further from the truth.

“The Magicians,” based on the book series by Lev Grossman, is not the kind of show that can be summed up in a few sentences. If I were to try, it would appear to be just another run-of-the-mill young adult magic-y drama, riding the wave of the tsunami that was the Harry Potter craze. This, however, could not be further from the truth.

“The Magicians,” based on the book series by Lev Grossman, is not the kind of show that can be summed up in a few sentences. If I were to try, it would appear to be just another run-of-the-mill young adult magic-y drama, riding the wave of the tsunami that was the Harry Potter craze. This, however, could not be further from the truth.

While the series in its most basic form borrows the wizarding school from J. K. Rowling and the magical world of C. S. Lewis, it also adds its own flare that makes the show distinct. Before I get into the intricacies, however, let’s cover the basics of the story.“The Magicians” first introduces viewers to Quentin Coldwater, a recent college graduate, who is struggling with finding his place in the world. He feels more at home in his favorite childhood fantasy books than in reality. He and his friend, Julia, are hoping to attend Yale in the fall for graduate school. They are surprised one day, however, to find themselves at a strange school called Brakebills. Here, they learn that magic is real and each

“The Magicians” first introduces viewers to Quentin Coldwater, a recent college graduate, who is struggling with finding his place in the world. He feels more at home in his favorite childhood fantasy books than in reality. He and his friend, Julia, are hoping to attend Yale in the fall for graduate school. They are surprised one day, however, to find themselves at a strange school called Brakebills. Here, they learn that magic is real and each take a test to determine their aptitude. Quentin passes, performing real magic for the first time. Julia, however, fails and is sent home.From there we meet the other characters who attend Brakebills, including genius Alice, socialites Margo and Eliot, as well as edgy Penny and Kady. Julia, cast out, is desperate for magic and will do whatever it takes to have it. As this cast of characters learns more about the magical world, they begin to uncover dangerous secrets,

From there we meet the other characters who attend Brakebills, including genius Alice, socialites Margo and Eliot, as well as edgy Penny and Kady. Julia, cast out, is desperate for magic and will do whatever it takes to have it. As this cast of characters learns more about the magical world, they begin to uncover dangerous secrets, prophecies and enemies which might get them all killed.The first season starts off a bit cheesy and chock-full of flat archetypes. Rated TV-MA, the show also struggles to find a flow in its maturity level. For long intervals, it is for all intents and purposes a tween show. Intermittently, however, viewers are bombarded with heavy swearing and graphic scenes. This is only an issue for the first half or so of season one, however, as the show works out its rhythm. Later in the series, while still containing adult content, it is spread out more evenly and executed, not for shock-factor, but for the sake of humor, intimacy or chilling portrayals of exploitation.

The first season starts off a bit cheesy and chock-full of flat archetypes. Rated TV-MA, the show also struggles to find a flow in its maturity level. For long intervals, it is for all intents and purposes a tween show. Intermittently, however, viewers are bombarded with heavy swearing and graphic scenes. This is only an issue for the first half or so of season one, however, as the show works out its rhythm. Later in the series, while still containing adult content, it is spread out more evenly and executed, not for shock-factor, but for the sake of humor, intimacy or chilling portrayals of exploitation.Much like its early seesawing between mature and immature content, the show is full of contradictions, but not in a bad way. The darkness of some of the scenes rivals that of even “Game of Thrones,” breaching sensitive topics such as mental illness, substance abuse,

Much like its early seesawing between mature and immature content, the show is full of contradictions, but not in a bad way. The darkness of some of the scenes rivals that of even “Game of Thrones,” breaching sensitive topics such as mental illness, substance abuse, rape and abortion. These often graphic portrayals of real-world problems at times seem out of place next to the absurd humor that permeates every episode. I believe it is this stark contrast that gives the show its unique feel.

Ultimately, “The Magicians” is an original take in a saturated genre. The uncharacteristic rawness of both the humor and the violent, moving scenes make the show an emotional rollercoaster in the best kind of way.

Featured image courtesy of The Magicians

The uncharacteristic rawness of both the humor and the violent, moving scenes make “The Magicians” an emotional rollercoaster in the best kind of way.
  • Characters are developed through intense emotional struggles
  • Combination of absurd humor and traumatizing tragedy creates a contrast which sustains the show
  • Takes time to establish a rhythm
  • Lack of rules leaves room to doubt everything

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