Terrible TV, I Love You


It’s true. For every five marquee, prestige, cult, critically praised and under-watched shows I watch and love, I have a beloved show that is, by every measure, terrible. I watched every episode of Instant Star on Teen Nick; my children roundly criticized me for the year I watched, with devoted dedication, Toddlers and Tiaras; in addition to watching the originals in reruns as a child, I eagerly tuned in to reconfigurations of The Brady Bunch.


For a while now, I’ve been sticking to the good side of what TV has to offer, but recently, I became aware of a deliciously awful supernatural genre soap opera, Shadowhunters, and I’m addicted.


Shadowhunters is based on a series of books called The Mortal Instruments, written by Cassandra Clare. The story is about a young woman named Clary Fray, who finds out on her 18th birthday that not only did she get into the Brooklyn Academy of Art, but that she comes from a supernatural group of people with powers, beholden to protect the “mundanes” (but also pretty snotty about their superiority over said mundanes). Clary finds this out after her mother gets kidnapped and her home is destroyed and all of sudden some scary demons are after her.


All the supernatural folks – this includes the Shadowhunters and the “downworlders”, which include werewolves, vampires and fairies – are trying to find the Mortal Cup, which allows the holder (who apparently must be the leader of a gang of fellow Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, and fairies) to control the Shadow world. This involves making more Shadowhunters, and I’m not sure how that helps any of the other supernatural folks, but….the show doesn’t care, so I’ll let it go.


There are two terrible things about this show off the bat.

  1. The acting. Some of the actors are adequate. The young woman who plays Clary, sadly, is not one of them. Perhaps she’ll improve with time, but my hopes are dim for the beautiful to look at but inadequate at expressing feelings or enunciating words Matthew Daddario, who plays Alec Lightwood, a stunningly attractive block of wood who appears to have something similar to an idea that he is uncomfortable with, which is his attraction to Magnus Bane, a warlock played by Harry Shum, who I hope will dance for us at some point.
  2. The writing. It doesn’t make any sense. Nothing makes sense. Everyone is in a panic and running around all the time, no one thinks or plans. It’s just bad. At least they don’t have run-on sentences like the one I had in point one, so kudos for that. And really, they don’t need to have good writing…


…because the soapy side of the equation is so compelling. Beautiful young people in proximity to danger! Barely dressed beautiful young people! There will be making out! And I assume sex, at some point, but we haven’t gotten there yet.
So, Shadowhunters, I’m all in, even though this show is objectively not good. I’ll be watching every not good minute.