For those who missed it, The Magicians is a fully completed television series with a satisfying ending (unlike some other fantasy series we could mention). In a nutshell, it’s Harry Potter for the college crowd. While that sounds like a minor change, it’s really not, because that simple-sounding change colors the whole fictional universe.
Magic in The Magicians isn’t treated as a wondrous blessing but rather an addiction to cope with. Nearly all of the characters suffer from their relationship with their magic, whether it ostracizes them socially, haunts their nightmares, or drives them to unhealthy lengths in the pursuit of more power to undo the mess they’ve already made of their lives from the last thing they tried.
While that sounds bleak–and it is–the characters are what shine in this story. The show is called “The Magicians,” not “The Magic.” It’s a show about what happens to people in a world ruled by dark forces that most normal people will never even know about. But the magicians of The Magicians do know, and many of them would be happier if they didn’t.
The main cast consist of a shy bookworm well into adulthood who’s an expert on a Narnia-like fairy tale world, a prodigy who isn’t allowed to attend magic school, a tough guy with a troubled past (who might be the most rational of the bunch), and a geeky girl too smart for her own (or anyone else’s) good. Oh, and let’s not forget the most gloriously atypical frat boy of all time and his take-no-prisoners girlfriend.
Horrible things are going to happen to these people, and you are going to have feelings about them.
The show universe, by contrast, doesn’t take itself too seriously. The darkness is offset by a quirky, self-aware vibe, where characters offhandedly accept that ghosts and demons and elves and gods are all real, and that legends and myths are just the tip of the iceberg that common humans know about magic.
A second fair warning: while magic may not be for kids, the show really isn’t, either. The violence isn’t usually too bad, but sex and drug use are rampant.
It’s worth a watch.
You can stream the entire series on Netflix.