I figure I’ll just jot thoughts down, because I STILL can’t get a coherent essay together about why that episode just completely incinerated my enjoyment of this show, and perpetrated THE FAR WORSE SIN of taking a melon ball to the Magnificent Magnus Bane. Apparently, I’m the only person in fandom who believes any of these things. So be it. (Many thanks to @OnceUponHerFury on Twitter, who lived through the Buffy wars, and helped talk me down FROM JUMPING OFF A BRIDGE! Thank you, Omega, for being my Camille and reminding me I LEARNED THIS LESSON THE HARD WAY ONCE ALREADY.)
TRUST NOT IN SHOW CREATORS OR RUNNERS, FOR YOU ARE NOTHING MORE TO THEM THAN A NUMBER AND A LOST JOB IF THEY BLATANTLY PISS YOU OFF ENOUGH. THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE STORY OR CHARACTERS EVEN CLOSE TO AS MUCH AS YOU DO, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY. IT’S CALLED LIP SERVICE, AND IT’S A WAY TO KEEP YOU FROM DOING WHAT I’M DOING, SEEING THE WIZARD BEHIND THE CURTAIN, AND SAYING “SCREW THIS WHAT ELSE IS ON MONDAY AT 8?”
- Why killing Jocelyn was stupid part 1: did anybody give a shit about Jocelyn among viewers in the first place? She was unlikable,selfish, and completely unsympathetic. When she announced she was moving to Idris, I was like, “Bye, girl, BYE!” I wish she had just split. The implications of her death are just… too hideous to contemplate. Not in a fun narrative kind of way. More on that in a bit.
- MAGNUS BANE WOULD NOT JUMP OFF A FUCKING BRIDGE, AND CAMILLE BELCOURT WOULD NOT EVEN MUSS HER HAIR FOR A MOMENT TO SAVE HIM. I kind of feature her standing nearby to watch, actually IF I bought that Magnus would EVER be ACTUALLY suicidal, WHICH I DON’T. His determination to live was a blatant act of defiance, as was the manner in which he chose to live. A cry of loneliness, certainly, but JUMPING OFF A BRIDGE? Ugh. And Camille? Please! She never loved him–he was her toy. She could manipulate him to get whatever she wanted out of him. He was a poor, love-starved, co-dependent schmuck who just wanted her to ACTUALLY love him, and would do anything to get her to. READ THE FUCKING BANE CHRONICLES SOMETIME. That was a good story(ies). FUCK, just listen to the goddamn dialogue from the fucking FIRST SEASON OF THIS SHOW! I think this topic is going to need its own post, because I am LIVID about it.
- Seriously. All these “creative”minds, and they had to rip-off Supernatural for the demon possession effect? Thanks, McG! Way to earn your paycheck!
- Also ripped off from Supernatural: possession makes you share ugly truths with people you care about! Apparently, Izzy is Sam, and Alec is Dean. NO. BAD SHADOWHUNTERS. So now we’re looking at a nasty mix of Buffy, Dawson’s Creek, Charmed, Supernatural, AND Harry Potter in a not terribly tidy pastiche.
- You will not, in any reality, convince me that Alec will EVER get over the vision of what he did to Jocelyn–HIS hand plunging into HER chest and RIPPING OUT HER HEART–in his head. He will NEVER stand smiling in a bar toasting a hot guy. He will NEVER cheerfully begin a relationship of any kind of health with said hot guy. There is not enough therapy or denial in the universe that would ever make the pathologically honorable Alec Lightwood I thought I knew okay with what his body did, possession or not. Unless Magnus roofies him. But hey, with this lame new Magnus and the producers’ utter lack of care about book or previous show characterization, why not? We can just turn them into stereotypical gay 1990s club boys who drop E all the time (do the kids do E anymore?), never wear shirts, and just tra-la-la around all day wearing platform boots and shiny tights, throwing glitter and bellowing EDM. Damn the consequences, screw the story, as long as the shippers don’t stop watching! Apparently, Magnus pushing Alec away is HOT and a sign that SEX IS IMMINENT. Oh my god, WHAT? This is a whole level of self-delusion I didn’t even think was possible.
- One positive thing: Raj is dead. BYE RAJ! I hated you from minute 1.
- Another positive thing: Magnus’s (at least, they called him Magnus, and he was played to absolute emotional POINT by my beloved Harry Shum Jr.) outfit was on fleek. But did they fire the hair and makeup team? Can we change that shit up a bit?
- Positive #3: OMG is Dom Sherwood SO bringing it this season! He’s never been bad at all, but he is just GUT-WRENCHING this year! Actually, so is Alberto… so is everyone. The main cast is fantastic. I just hate this GARBAGE they’re being forced to play.
- Teen Angst and Emotional Manipulation – As a writer, it is a HUGE no-no to force plot points to move inorganically to other plot points by shoehorning events into the narrative. That is often called Deux ex Machina — the ghost in the machine. The thing that doesn’t belong there that you just toss in to make things go the way you want them to even when they clearly shouldn’t. You have to earn that shit. You don’t fuck with your audience just to tell some random story that comes out of fucking nowhere even vaguely related to the ENTIRE STORY YOU’VE BEEN TELLING THUS FAR. This week was 100% about manipulating the audience’s emotions and expectations in a cheap way that was entirely unearned (and in fact, contradicts directly what came before). And Jocelyn’s murder is so Jocelyn Ex Machina that my evil late creative writing teacher is rolling in his bitter grave.It’s like what they call jump scares in a horror movie–they use LOUD MUSIC AND OMG SOMETHING JUMPING OUT AT YOU to make you crap your pants, rather than earning a fright with subtle atmosphere, genuine emotion, and a half-decent story. Shadowhunters has jumped the narrative shark in that respect. (Which actually shouldn’t be surprising, considering the weak source material.)
Let’s stick with this topic for a bit. Teen angst is obviously a legitimate (or at least, widely used — I personally hate it. Maybe because I’m not a teen.) story flavor: younger people tend to relate to it, as that is (supposedly) their current world view, and the 18-29 age bracket is Freeform’s (and pretty much everybody’s) target demographic. (Even though the say 18-39, the upper end is not considered as important).HOWEVER, there is a fine balance that has to be maintained so your show doesn’t turn into another lame-ass teen soap opera, where everything is weepy DRAMA and woe-is-me emo music, and moody lighting, and people sitting around wearing black, moping into space contemplating the dark state of their existence. There wasn’t a major turning point in episode 4 that wasn’t meant to drop every single major character into a VAT of twangst (teen whiny angst). I can’t do these in order, unfortunately, because no matter how many times I try to sit down and re-watch, I LITERALLY can’t force myself to do it. I don’t want to watch it again. So I’m pulling from memory:
* Clary and her Mom get to some kind of truce, with a possibility of repairing their relationship, BUT NO! NOT ONLY does Jocelyn get slaughtered in the hallowed halls of the Institute where Clary planned to make her home, but it’s literally at the HAND of GASP! the guy who hates her, the Parabatai of the guy she-loves-but-isn’t-supposed-to-because-he’s-her-brother-but-we-all-know-he’s-really-not-so-it’s-not-gross-at-all! OMG!
* Suddenly, Magnus didn’t spend 200 years in a co-dependent, abusive relationship with an evil bitch who used him as her plaything just because he really wanted her to be someone she wasn’t–a woman with a heart who loved him! No! It was a passionate love affair with the kind, generous lady who saved him FROM JUMPING OFF A BRIDGE WHICH I JUST CAN’T FUCKING GET PAST. So every word in the books, every word last season, every bit of her characterization are completely annihilated, and the originally complex, very ADULT story of Magnus & Camille’s relationship is traded in for an utterly dumbed down, meh one that is easier for the young folk to understand and relate to. Oh, I’m sorry, no, we’re supposed to feel badly for him and her (all of a sudden) in the 30 seconds before Magnus sends her off to face Shadowhunter justice in Idris. Why? Because it makes sense? NO. Because it’s the only way to wring another few ounces of ridiculous WANGST out of the moment. It also makes Magnus look like a colossal shithead with no balls. ALSO: CAMILLE FUCKING BELCOURT WAS “THE ONLY PERSON WHO CARED ENOUGH TO STOP HIM” FROM JUMPING OFF THAT RIDICULOUS GODDAMN ALLEGED BRIDGE????????????????? I’m sorry, were his, I don’t know, ACTUAL BEST FRIENDS out of the dimension at that particular moment? Did they cease to exist in service of this ridiculous narrative? Ragnor? Catarina? Anybody? Anybody? Buehler? Bullshit.
* Speaking of… what made Magnus and Raphael’s friendship wonderful in TBC was that it was utterly unique. Magnus is not the go-to mentor of any and all needy downworlders! He doesn’t take in every stray off the street because *whine* he didn’t have anybody to help him when he was young. He’s not the fucking downworld’s answer to social services! He always tried to help others, always tried to keep things in check when he could, do the right thing when he could, but he didn’t just randomly adopt lost puppies to foster for their forever home! The ONLY reason he ended up with Raphael was because Raphael’s mother begged Magnus to help him, and he couldn’t say no. And while he loved Raphael like a son, there was not a minute of that relationship that wasn’t contentious (as WOW the writers actually SORT OF bothered to mention in passing during the episode when Raphael said he didn’t know where else to go). Raphael couldn’t get away from his “mentor” fast enough when he was ready, and stayed the hell away afterward. Also: Magnus may have supported Raphael’s growth, but RAPHAEL SAVED HIMSELF with his own stubborn will.
Magnus can’t even be bothered to learn Simon’s name in the books. It’s one of the few funny running gags in them. Magnus thinks he’s a weenie — albeit an ultimately brave and loyal one. AND HE WOULD NEVER JUST HOP UP AND SAY, “YEAH! COME MOVE RIGHT ON IN TO MY LOFT AND I’LL MAKE SURE YOU DON’T FRY THE NEXT SUNRISE! LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS! IN FACT, I HAPPEN TO BE IN NEED OF A THERAPIST! WANT TO VOLUNTEER RANDOM VAMPIRE BOY?” Let me tell you secrets I would never tell anyone else! No. NONONONONONONONONONO.
* Let’s go back to Alec’s MURDERIN’ HANDS. This was possibly the most egregious manipulation. How many miles of brooding, guilty angst will we have shoved down our throats out of this? And when the producers decide to abandon it because OMG THEY HAVE TO MALEC! NO WAIT! WE’LL USE THE WANGST TO BUILD THE MALEC! EVERYBODY LOVES HURT/COMFORT 24/7! They can’t hold hands, but they can whine! It will make both characters look like shallow fools. Which is okay, because they’re just paper dolls in a cookie cutter teen show where continuity isn’t THAT important as long as everybody is cute. Thinking of them going out for a beer and some pool after the events of episode 4 and all their characterization and narrative implications makes me feel ill. And those new stills? Kiss me! No, we mustn’t! But I bought you a present! But you’re a virgin! I don’t want to rush you! UGH OMG MY SOAP OPERA IS BETTER THAN THIS SHIT.
*Luke. What the fuck good is Luke going to be now? Why the hell bring Jocelyn back in the first place for what, two hugs? Stupid.
* Oh, and I would like to add that BRINGING
JOYCEJOCELYN (I do that ALL the time! But I knew Joyce Summers, and you, lady, are NO JOYCE SUMMERS) BACK WOULD BE WORSE, and has been done SO many times in every sci fi/fantasy show ever, just… give me a break. The previews for episode 5 are practically torn from the pages of Buffy’s S5 The Body, except NOT BRILLIANT. Also, have you heard of a little show called The Walking Dead? They fucked around with the audience by playing a “Is Glen Dead? YES! NO! WAIT, YES!” game in S6, and LITERALLY lost a hundred thousand viewers who never came back. Shadowhunters can’t spare even a fraction of the same ratio of their own audience. They’re already teetering on the edge of oblivion.
* Clary. I’m not a big Clary fan to begin with. She’s a poor man’s Buffy, and that’s the way Cassie Claire wrote her in her fanfic upon which TMI is based (a Mary Sue cross between Buffy and Hermione Granger). But Kat does a great job, and I’ve been okay with her ongoing mild teen angst because IT MAKES SENSE AND IS ORGANIC CONSIDERING HER CIRCUMSTANCES. But now? She’s going to be unbearable. No Jace, no mom, hates Alec no matter what she says. She’s going to be stomping around all angry and hissy fitty, alternating with aforementioned brooding, whining, and crying (and probably screwing her vampire best friend). Now she’s going to do the MOST STUPID THING IN THE UNIVERSE AND TRY TO BRING HER MOTHER BACK FROM THE DEAD? Her best friend is a geek. She watches movies and TV. She now lives in a universe where the worst possible scenario is almost certain happen in every situation. But hey, let’s zip on over to the local voodoo priestess and whip up mom! What could go wrong? It’s so farcical on its face, it’s not even entertaining. I now hate Clary, and she hasn’t even walked over the annoying line I see coming yet. They might as well just put in giant hoop earrings, make her wear heavy black eye makeup, and lipstick way to dark for her face — the classic I’M SO DARK AND BROKEN BEWARE edit.
OMG I’m so tired of thinking about this, but it’s literally had me up the past two nights. I want to stop talking about it, since nobody gives a shit about what I think (least of all the producers/writers/directors), and it can’t be undone anyway. BUT THIS IS MY BLOG, AND I’LL DO WHAT I WANT AND SAY WHAT I WANT.
Being this deeply involved in a fictional universe is DANGEROUS. I can’t believe I let myself do it again. Getting out is like getting out of a cult, or quitting smoking. It’s your daily life, your ingrained habit. You squee at new pictures and clips. You laugh at cast hijinks on social media. You ooh and aah at the talented artists in fandom. Malec is life. Magnus the Magnificent actually made a difference in your existence, and brought you out of a shell you’d been hiding in for a long time. You related to him, you admired him, he made sense to you (and by you I mean me.)
In ONE hour of television, that’s GONE. But the old feelings don’t go away, just like when you find out your romantic partner is actually an asshole and you kick them to the curb, but that doesn’t mean you’re free of the emotions instantly. This struggle was literally agonizing for me back in the Buffy days. It took me two seasons of just unending distress and a sense of loss and endless threats (from other fans), harassment, and flame wars to finally say enough. It’s not just a matter of turning the dial (or the remote) and walking away. It’s an infection you have to excise. It takes time. You have to talk out the reasons why, and keep reminding yourself more than anything that the damage has been done, that the creators don’t think any damage has been done, so things will NEVER be the same, or get better. Just like in that relationship, you have to tattoo it on your BRAIN that there was a reason that relationship ended, and it was a GOOD ONE. It can’t just be erased because you might still be feeling full of soft feelings, nostalgia, and disappointment.
Talk it out, cry it out, sew up the wounds, and run for the fucking hills. Don’t look back. I’m not there yet, but it will come. I know at least it’s working because I watched the Malec clip from next week (which I won’t be watching,) and it just made me sad, because I don’t know these characters the way I thought I did, and I don’t care what happens in whatever the show manufactures as a relationship between them to keep the fangirls giggling.
Malec is not everything. Malec is not life. Malec is now another wangsty teen TV couple who just happen to be boys but are completely de-sexualized so as not to make the straights in the audience nervous (Clace incest is OKEE DOKEE though!). The previews for episode 7 that the entire fandom seems to be flipping out over do nothing for me at all. The producers are just teasing shippers with come here/go away Malec so the FANS won’t go away. Which they seem to doing be in droves anyway.
Sadly, the tanking ratings seem to reflect more of my feelings than the hope of other people I’ve seen. The premiere lost HALF its target demo (18-49), and almost 35% of its total audience from the finale last season. It’s only gotten worse from there, with episode 4 dropping almost another 19% in the demo, and 21% of total viewers from the week before. I have a hard time imagining next week will be better, although it might bring a slight Malec bump. You know, for that 30 seconds of bread crumbs they toss shippers. http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/shadowhunters-season-two-ratings/
Ratings like this, if they keep plunging, might not even see the entire season air. They should have stuck with what was apparently working last season,when twice as many people were watching. The chances of seeing season 3 get slimmer every week. Nice job, Slavkin, Swimmer, and Hastings! Maybe you should have left your Smallville and The Originals (and your dashes of McG’s Supernatural) sensibilities on the WB/CW where they belonged and left our weird, colorful little Freeform show alone.
I’m going to go read PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS, which stars another of my all-time favorite fictional characters, and actually surprised me in a GOOD way. I went in fully expecting it to be stupid, but I’m really enjoying it so far! But that will review will appear on BLOODTHIRSTY MUSES shortly!