Book-to-screen adaptations are a popular trend in today’s pop culture. Just because they might have been tried once (going down in epic failure), doesn’t mean following the adage “try, try again” is off the table. The just-launched Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series, Shadowhunters is out to prove its better than its predecessor counterpart.  

Shadowhunters, Season One: Episodes 1 & 2 (2016) TV Review

Turning eighteen is a normal teenage milestone for Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara). But for her mother (Maxim Roy), it’s the beginning of a dangerous world Clary knows nothing of yet has little choice in embracing. On her 18th birthday, a series of events lead up to her entire world upending. Not long after the exciting news that she’s been accepted to art school, Clary’s birthday night out along with best friend, Simon (Alberto Rosende), is interrupted when she serendipitously meets Jace Waylen (Dominic Sherwood). A boy she isn’t supposed to see, Jace is on the trail of dangerous prey, and doesn’t have time to wonder at the fact that a human can see him – a daemon hunter known as a Shadowhunter.  

‘SHADOWHUNTERS,’ SEASON ONE: EPISODES 1 & 2 (2016). Chatting about the Freeform TV show adaptation. All text is © Rissi JC

When Clary follows Jace into a club to get some answers (answers to why her friend can’t see Jace and why the stranger’s tattoos show up in her sketchbook), she is witness to a murder. Confused, angry and feeling like she’s going crazy, Clary turns to her mother. It’s then that she learns her mother has been lying to her; there is such a thing as a Shadowhunter… and Clary is one of them. When their home comes under attack, Jocelyn sends Clary to the only person she can trust, Luke (Isaiah Mustafa). Hoping that by protecting Clary, she can protect the one thing the evil Valentine (Alan Van Sprang) really seeks.  

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‘SHADOWHUNTERS,’ SEASON ONE: EPISODES 1 & 2 (2016) #TVarchives #Shadowhunters Click To Tweet

In 2012, this young adult novel was adapted into a big-screen film. Based on the best-selling novels by Cassandra Clare, the story isn’t exactly my ideal cup of tea however I did see the film. It didn’t tempt me to read the novels and some cursory reading confirms this. Then news of a new series was born, and as I watch the first two episodes, the film comes to mind. 

Much as I try not to do so, comparisons inevitably happen in any re-tooling. Such is the lot with this new hour-long drama. Though I don’t remember the film all that well, I can say with 99% certainty there is one important thing that’s superior to this show. This is the character of Clary Fray. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m not convinced by her character in this. I’m leaning more towards the actress (who, don’t misunderstand, isn’t bad, I just don’t think this role suits her) who plays her. It stands to reason this is more the reason as I do like the character, but whatever the reason, I cannot put my finger on it. The rest of the cast is fantastic including the much buzzed about Dominic Sherwood; and Alberto as Simon seems perfectly ideal for the role. 

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‘SHADOWHUNTERS,’ SEASON ONE: EPISODES 1 & 2 (2016). Chatting about the Freeform TV show adaptation. All text is © Rissi JC

In the end, I did enjoy this in a “guilty pleasure” show kind of way. There’s lots of flashy appeal which is amped up to pull in a trendy, young audience. All of this jumpstarts in the “hook” opening sequence that, I’ll admit, draws me in from the moment the series opens. If nothing else did, I’d have to admit the filming of that opening intrigued me. As a “show to watch,” this certainly has potential. I’m not convinced everything it chose to do worked though it must have done something right enough. It hooks me enough to tune in for a third episode, and no matter the show, that’s always the end game.  

Content: aside from the magical elements – daemons, murders and other mythical themes, there is really no content to mention. Isabel dresses immodestly. The show has a deserved TV14 rating.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. This was another show that peaked my interest but I wasn't sure if I wanted to use my "tv time" on. ;) I haven't seen it yet, but I always thought the main actress was a weird pick too. Anyways, this was super helpful – thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

    1. I hear ya', Bekah! When we have as many shows as we do (least I think you're in the same place I am :D), we have to pick and chose. I haven't gone back and watched more of this however I do have an episode in iTunes. Perhaps I'll get to it this weekend. Given how many books I'm in need to reading, I'm trying to limit the TV shows I watch. For now. ;)

  2. Yeah. I have to agree with you about the actress for Clary. She felt too superficial and not down-to-earth enough. I like the Clary from the movie better. I do, however, like the Jace in this one better than the movie Jace. I haven't watched episode two, just one. I'm thinking that it'll just fall flat for me, but we'll see.

    1. YES! I've not even read the book so I don't know about the book-to-TV transition, but something about Katherine as Clary just doesn't jive. I did think Movie Clary was LOTS better, but then that could partially be because I really like Lily Collins.

      Either way, Jace is great! I definitely agree, and I though the opening was great – the story "hook" intrigued right away. :)

  3. I'm really disappointed by the television version of the TMI. It was really nothing like the books. Maybe if I hadn't read the books first I think I would have quite enjoyed it but I have read the books so I can't spend my life on "buts" and "what ifs".

    1. I haven't read the books, so overall, I prefer the film over the show. Having said that, it's been a loong time since I watched the film and I'm not current with the TV show either.

      But good point. There's no sense in wasting time on something you aren't enjoying. :)

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