On Depression, Attachment and The Magicians

After several incessant text and FaceTime chats with my sister about how could I not be watching The Magicians yet I finally caved and started it this week. And caught up this week. The tagline for the show has been “sexy grownup Harry Potter” but my sister called it “magical Gossip Girl” and the latter is way more accurate and exactly the way to get me to watch. I received a reply when I tweeted that description “I’m guessing on GG they are just horrible pricks to each other, based on what I’ve seen of Magicians.” and yes, accurate but I loved the Gossip Girl assholes and I love The Magicians assholes.

After I finished I was still wanting to wrap myself in all things Magicians so I went looking for reviews and recaps and other discussions and started getting really annoyed. It seems like everyone addressing the show is coming at it from a position of the books are king instead of either fresh eyes or understanding that books and shows/movies HAVE to be seen as separate entities. I get the desire to have someone familiar with the source material writing up the show but it’s very frustrating when half the recap is how this and that are done better in the books.

But there are two common complaints I want to address.

  1. Aging them up to college seniors instead of high school seniors makes Quentin’s Fillory obsession make no sense
  2. Having Quentin depressed to the point of having to institutionalize himself is too heavy-handed.

First of all, have you met the internet? No matter what age Quentin’s Fillory obsession is completely in line with the rest of us nerds on forums and chats talking Star Wars or Harry Potter or Marvel or whatever in incredible detail but especially in conjunction with his depression.

Something familiar and comforting can be an absolute lifeline when you’re depressed. Sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps you going. I watched the movie Up twice a day for a month+ during one depressive episode. I was 26. But sure, let’s talk about how Quentin is too old for his Fillory obsession.

I relate to show!Quentin in a way I never did with book!Quentin and I love that the show hasn’t tried to explain away his depression or use magic as a cure for it. He’s depressed and that’s something he has to deal with. It’s hard and it sucks and sometimes you backslide and think there’s no way out which is when you turn to your comforts and cling as hard as you can trying to climb back up. I don’t think the show is heavy-handed at all, I think we’re just so used to media being coy about depression that when it’s presented straight up it’s jarring. And I think the idea that it’s unrealistic if anyone other than children immerse themselves in obsessions is damaging. So thank you Magicians for facing all this head on.

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