It’s probably not a good thing that before I caught the first episode of The Magicians last week, I was already predisposed to the fact that I wouldn’t like it. I’d read about half the book before I bailed. None of the characters were likeable and I didn’t see the point carrying on when I didn’t care what happened to any of them. However my husband thought it looked cool from the commercials and I thought it might be better in a different medium, so we recorded the first two episodes. It is better, but only just.
Now, to be fair, is it is visually beautiful. The costumes, the set dressing, and the locations are all very well done. But the characters are just as obnoxious as they were in the book. If you are not familiar with The Magicians, imagine if JK Rowling’s books were all set in the US, Hogwarts was a university instead of a high school and Harry and his friends were all colossal douchebags and you pretty much have it. While nothing exists in a vacuum, it is highly derivative of Harry Potter. And Narnia. And Star Wars. I’m sure all of these criticisms were bandied about when the books (I believe there’s more than one) first came out.
The idea of Brakebills (the magic school) being a university is actually quite an interesting one. I often wondered why, in the Harry Potter Universe, magical education stopped when you left high school and then continued on some sort of ad hoc apprenticeship basis. Wouldn’t Hermoine or Snape (or even the Weasley twins), with their innovative, theoretical minds, have benefited from four more years of actual education? (Wouldn’t magic have benefited from it? The magic in HP seems written for maximum quirkiness and a wilful blindness to modern society.
But the flaw in The Magicians are the characters, who seem to be the people you tried to avoid in high school, ultra cool stuck-up types who tend to look at you as if you were something unpleasant they stepped in. Even the MC, who is ostensibly supposed to be sympathetic, is unlikable. I guess, looking at it realistically, being able to do actual magic is going to give you a bit of an attitude, so it might not be that surprising. Still, I plan on watching in hopes it will grow on me.