And queue the nerdy fan rage; GRAAAAH! IT’S NOT LIKE THE BOOOOOOOKS!
Yes. I know.
I’m used to dismissing those complaints about movies/tv shows, you’re used to dismissing those complaints, let’s move on.
I’m not complaining that they changed Janet’s name to Margot for some reason, or that they included Julia’s story in the first season, or that Penny went from jerk we all love to hate to actual cool person. Ok well, I am also complaining about those things. But more importantly, SyFy passed up a freaking fantastic opportunity to do something different with that show!
What I love about the books (and by love, I mean hated at first), is that they take non-traditional story-telling and they do it right. Not like Game of Thrones non-traditional where the bad guys always win to the point of predictability after x amount of seasons and something significant is always merely on the cusp of happening but never actually does. The story of The Magicians trilogy was non-traditional for a fantasy series in that they mirrored life, somehow, in the midst of the magic and the drugs (and in the books, there were a LOT more drugs– seriously, the show could have been like Blue Mountain State but with wine instead of beer and magic instead of football).
The first book barely has a cohesive plot, and while reading it you wonder what the point of any of it is. When things do happen, it seems nobody understands them, or that they’re merely forcing them to happen, and things only seem to fit any kind of pattern in retrospect.
This depressed me a lot about the first book and I let years pass before I gave the next two a try. It seemed to be telling me that magic or fantasy wouldn’t solve my problems, and just because you’re living in a Harry Potter world doesn’t mean the fantasy comes with it, and you don’t get to be the hero. It made the worlds I escaped into– the only things I actually seemed to believe in–seem so aimless, empty.
Now, what does that remind us of? Oh yeah– real goddamned life! Existence when you’re a directionless twentysomething who’s dealing with the fact that you’ll have to do something the rest of your life and it probably won’t live up to your expectations. In adapting the TV series, SyFy passed up a golden opportunity to tell that story, which leads into one much, MUCH stronger than the more cookie-cutter “Quentin Coldwater, you’re the chosen one!” season one we got (yes, even with Quentin giving the mantle to Alice, which seemed a half-hearted Shyamalan-twist compared to the original ending).
Now, to anyone reading this and glad they didn’t go with that story as I describe it because it sounds like a downer, bear with me.
I thought the same thing at first. The thing is, as much as the first book is like life, the next two are so much more. They’re not just about life in the sense of going to college, getting a job, buying some stuff, and dying. They’re about life in the sense of “here’s that point in your adolescence when nothing makes sense and life is meaningless” to “Now here’s someone growing the fuck up from there and making it mean something.” The first book strives so hard to make the point that “magic won’t save your life, fantasy won’t make it meaningful”, and as I said before, it almost did it too well. Where the rest of the series picks up though is what I feel like the TV show passed off on, which is with “…so you do that instead.”