SyFy network series “The Magicians” appeals to fantasy lovers of all ages

By Abigail Sokolsky || Layout Assistant

Photo courtesy of www.tvseriesfinale.com

SyFy Network’s The Magicians has been gaining popularity since it first aired in 2015. Based on the 2009 novel The Magicians by Lev Grossman, the series follows the magical lives of characters Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), Julia Wicker (Stella Maeve), Alice Quinn (Olivia Dudley), Eliot Waugh (Hale Appleman), Penny Adiyodi (Arjun Gupta), and Margo Hanson (Summer Bishil). The series begins with Quentin Coldwater, a troubled college dropout more interested in the childhood fantasy novels he read as a kid than the real world around him. Feeling out of touch with reality, Quentin obsesses over a childhood story, Fillory and Further, that he used to enjoy reading with his friend Julia Wicker when they were younger. Now adults, Julia tries to encourage Quentin to put down the books and engage with the world around him, not suspecting that they are both about to discover that Fillory and magic are real. Invited to take an entrance exam for the magical Breakbills Academy, Quentin and Julia soon find themselves immersed in a world of magical creatures and monsters.

While the following of The Magicians has seemed niche for the first and second seasons, in the last year there has been a steady growth in viewership as more readers of the original book and fantasy fans gravitate towards the series. As Katherine Howard ’19 puts it, “I do enjoy the show and its loose interpretation of the book. It’s like a grown up version of Harry Potter,” a sentiment which isn’t uncommon among supporters and critics of the series alike. Those who have read the book as well as watched the series inevitably note the discrepancies between the two, some finding the show to be a fun reworking of the original plot while others find these deviations to be too fundamental a shift. Kyle Snyder ’18 remarks “I didn’t initially like it, in part because I didn’t like the way they portrayed some of the characters, but I think had I finished the entire thing, I may have grown to like it more. It didn’t portray itself like I imagined it when I read the book?”

Also apparent among viewers of The Magicians is a preexisting appreciation for fantasy, making the invocation of childhood fantasy favorites commonplace when fans speak about what makes the series so appealing. Indeed, The Magicians owes the foundation of its popularity to the existence of such series as Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia which precede it. The universality of these childhood favorites has instilled in people everywhere an appreciation for fantasy worlds and a thrill at the idea of magic existing in congruence with the everyday, mundane world with which we are familiar. For this reason, the series also appeals to a younger audience.  Jonathan Sorokin, age sixteen, comments that “I do enjoy the show, because I like how it takes the Harry Potter vibe that we all grew up with and love but ages it up to fit another stage of life; a stage with more complications in interpersonal relationships, a stage where your friends are like family, etc. Though it’s a stage that I’ve not yet reached, I acknowledge the reality of it and love the fantasy twist that The Magicians lends to it.” It is no wonder that The Magicians is quickly becoming a hit among lovers of the supernatural, regardless of age.

Junior Abigail Sokolsky is an assistant layout editor. Her email is asokolsk@fandm.edu.

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