Shadowhunters: Season 1 – Review

Shadowhunters was not the first attempt at an on-screen adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s popular young adult book series but it was the best (out of two – but, hey, that’s still a win).

This show didn’t have the strongest start but to really appreciate it you have to watch the entire season. It most definitely has its flaws – which we will get into later – but it finds its rhythm and gets better with every episode.

There’s no getting around book comparisons when the fans of the book are such a large and vocal community – this show deviates massively from the source material in terms of events and chronology but that’s absolutely fine. An adaptation is just that – it adapts to be better suited for a new medium. In this case: characters are aged up, ethnicities are changed, and certain aspects of the “Shadow-world” are altered.

However, The Mortal Instruments is a five-book series and Cassandra Clare has written many other books within this universe so there is this great wealth of source material that they’re able to use and they can make references to other stories.

The cast of this show are all fairly unfamiliar faces, including: Katherine McNamara, Dominic Sherwood & Matthew Daddario. I’m wary to pass any judgement on their acting abilities when the scripts that they’re working with are so awful. What I can say is that every person on this show is unbelievably beautiful – I think that may have been a prerequisite on the casting call.

The writing of this show is seriously lacking. They try for a lot of jokes but the hit-to-miss ratio is far too low. I’m sure that my thirteen year old self would have loved this show but now, I find quite a bit of the dialogue cheesy and predictable. I can’t condemn all of the writers of the show as the two episodes that stood out in this season (Raising Hell and Malec) were both written by Michael Reisz.

I struggle to think of a single character that doesn’t find themselves in a romantic entanglement of some sort in the season but just like the jokes, relationships in this show are hit and miss. The dynamic between Clary and Jace seems so forced and unnatural that the ‘sibling-bomb’ being dropped was the happiest I had ever been about incest (a sentence I never saw myself writing). The internet went wild for Magnus and Alec – a pairing that for reasons I can’t put my finger on seems like it shouldn’t work but does.

This show isn’t going to make history and a lot of its reviews aren’t fantastic but there are so many positive aspects about it that don’t get enough praise. The show is ethnically diverse; it presents female characters who can own their sexuality and not be demonised for it; its opening title sequence is kick-ass; and they have a stellar costume department.

If you started watching the show and gave up, try it again. It only gets better as you go on.

What did you think of Shadowhunters? Who did you love and hate this season? Are you excited to see what comes next? Let me know in the comments.


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