A spinoff television series of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments has taken over Freeform with its enticing storyline, intense plot twists, and incredibly talented cast who manage to pull all of it off. It truly is an incredible show, maybe a little dramatic, but very intriguing. The only problem is, it’s based off of a book series -- one that many people read over and over again because of its perfection -- and it isn’t even accurate.
Clary Fray is a girl who just wants to know why she was put on this Earth, since for 16 years she felt as if a piece of her life was missing. For as long as her life had gone on, it was just her and her best friend Simon Lewis against the world, along with her mother and potential stepfather Luke, since her father had died before she was born. She ends up seeing something she shouldn’t in the first few chapters and is thrown into a world full of mystical creatures and people called Shadowhunters, that have part angel blood and fight off demons. Basically, all the legends are true, and Clary is a shadowhunter, something her mom tried to hide her whole life in order to keep Clary safe. She meets new people such as Jace, Alec, and Isabelle Lightwood, three fearless shadowhunters that have to teach Clary the ropes, with a few complications in between. The entire series is Clary and her adventures as a shadowhunter, and although getting through the first two books is a drag, the third through sixth books are an easy read with many plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat at all times. And what can be better than getting your favorite book series put on TV? Maybe having an authentic storyline and reliable character interpretation.
When Freeform first announced that they were releasing a new television show based on The Mortal Instruments series, the fandom went crazy. All of the series’ fans went running to set their DVR to record, and all of the newcomers who found the trailer enticing did the same. The first episode was mostly accurate except for the casting, since the actors sent the audience for a loop when a few of them did not match their descriptions at all. Take Luke for instance; One of the most important characters in the series, Luke (portrayed by actor Isaiah Mustafa) is the one who acts as a father figure to Clary (portrayed by actress Katherine McNamara). In the book we know him as a man with light eyes and light hair, and a very kind hearted personality. He’s just an easy-going bookseller. In the show, he is introduced as a dark skinned man with dark hair and dark eyes, and ironically, a very dark personality. His occupation? A police officer. In the first episode, he just comes off as sort of angry. Another significant character in the series, Alec Lightwood, is portrayed well by Matthew Daddario. It is clear that it was not Daddario’s fault that his character’s personality is completely different in the show than the books, as he is only reading the script. First off, something extremely significant to Alec’s character is that he’s a softy, even though he doesn’t show it. It is stated in the book that he has never even killed a demon, when in the first episode we see him shoot down at least four with his trusty bow and arrow. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely exciting, it’s just not correct. And his sister, Isabelle (portrayed by Emeraude Toubia), is supposed to despise Clary for a good amount of time, but in the show falls in love with the idea of having a sister figure within the first five minutes of meeting her.
Aside from the characters, the plot line is completely thrown off course. Within the first season they were touching upon scenarios from the second and third book, and even further than that. It was extremely disappointing to expect one story line, and completely get another that is not only mixing the timeline around, but adding in the director’s own interpretation of what he thinks audiences are going to like. The television show is extremely dramatic and makes the books seem less interesting, so when people watch the show they automatically assume that the books must be uneventful and dramatic like that as well. Wrong. The books are full of thrill and exploration of a new world, giving the audience a look into something new for a change, and allowing them to get lost in a place they’ve never seen before. Cassandra Clare’s work is absolutely incredible, but many call her a sell out for allowing her fantasy novels to be butchered in front of millions of people worldwide.
Overall, the program is not an entire disappointment, as the action and intensity of the books are kept alive, I just don’t recommend watching the series after reading the books, or vice versa. The cast is attractive, the sets are beautifully well done, and the script could be worse. It’ll keep you at the edge of your seat, that’s for sure, but if I had to choose between the books and the show to recommend, I’d choose the six young adult fantasy novels that kept me busy for months and many more after that when I read them a second time. Cassandra Clare will satisfy your craving for adventure and much more no matter what you choose, but pick wisely because once you focus on one version of the story, it’s hard to accept the other.