As the Shadowhunters TV show slowly makes its way through its first season, one thing that has delighted most fans is the portrayal of fan favorite characters Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood.
‘Malec’ – or the romantic pairing of Magnus and Alec – is perhaps the most important couple in The Mortal Instruments, as theirs was one of the first healthy, realistic gay relationships to be featured prominently in Young Adult fiction. Like all of Cassandra Clare’s couples, their relationship has been riddled with incredible ups and downs and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but it has never been treated as anything less than an epic romance between two people who are meant to be together. In the shadow world, they represent progress not just because they’re both men, but also because one of them is a warlock and the other a shadowhunter. In the LGBTQ+ community, they represent a step toward acceptance and equal representation, while also being the cutest couple ever. Obviously, before the show aired there was a lot of pressure on the writers to do justice to Malec, and a lot of fear that they might screw things up. Thankfully, five episodes in, Shadowhunters seems to be on the right track.
While other couples on the show have struggled to find chemistry and live up to fans’ expectations, Malec has been absolutely magical (pardon the pun) since their very first meeting. From Magnus first noticing Alec at the party, to Alec’s bashful smile when Magnus calls him “pretty boy” to the adorable phone conversation in episode five, everything about their interactions has screamed OTP. Malec has given life to a show that has struggled to translate the heart of the book series to screen. It has given viewers – whether they’re longtime fans or new to the story – something to fangirl over. Matthew Daddario and Harry Shum Jr. are two of the strongest actors on the show, and together they are absolutely fantastic. The Malec scenes are the only ones that I’ve watched over and over again just to enjoy the chemistry between the actors and revel in the potential for an epic romance. They are the only couple that I ship because I love their dynamic on the show, not just because I ship them in the books.
What’s more, Shadowhunters should be able to find an excellent balance between introducing new content and staying true to the books where Malec is concerned. It’s true that the characters are not exactly like they were in the source material – Alec is a lot funnier and more confident – but as a couple, their dynamic has been very true to the books up until this point. They’re also one of the only couples whose relationship hasn’t felt at all forced, with decent dialogue and phenomenal acting. The sparks have been flying since Magnus’ party, and the promise of a first date in the coming episodes is perhaps the biggest incentive to tune in to Shadowhunters every Tuesday.
I, along with many other fans, am particularly excited about this couple because I know that the TV show will be able to give it a lot more attention and screen time than the books did. Unfortunately, Malec is a relationship that was largely skimmed over in City of Bones and City of Ashes, presumably because people were less accepting of same-sex couples at the time it was published. Aside from a few casual mentions of them seeing each other, and hints at their relationship that could have been missed by a less attentive reader, they weren’t central to the story until City of Glass. In fact, the only time we saw them as a couple before the third book was during the scene on the car at the end of City of Ashes. We didn’t see their first date. We didn’t see them fall in love. We didn’t know exactly what Alec was thinking during these books, because he was still firmly in the closet and therefore unwilling to share anything with his friends. We did not get a chance to enjoy their relationship before it had already been established, and the show is letting us do exactly that. Shadowhunters is expanding on this relationship by giving us the moments that might have happened, but that we never got the chance to read about in the books.
With the TV Show, we can embark on this journey alongside them as if for the first time. We can watch their first interactions and see them evolve both seperately and as a couple. We can see them get to know each other, as Alec becomes more confident and Magnus changes his views on shadowhunters. Their relationship has the potential to be new and exciting while staying true to the books, which is the best thing we could possibly hope for in a book-to-tv adaptation.
So if you’re a fan of the books, I have a feeling you’ll want to keep watching. And if you’re new to the world, have fun – you’re going to fall in love with the love between these two characters.
Shadowhunters airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Freeform.