Editorial

Shadowhunters: The Show and Tell Problem With Malec

Comments (13)
  1. Katheryn Rodzianko says:

    Finally. Someone who agrees that the writing is been abysmal in terms of making us feel anything. I mean, come on. I’ve felt nothing for the couples because there’s no… Relationship building going on. It’s all instant this, instant that. We’re supposed to accept that this is happening without experiencing it ourselves. Sigh. I really hope season 2 is better but with them having the same writers… I’m not holding my breath.

  2. chris says:

    I feel the reason it was rushed, basically, was because S1 only had 13 episodes and they didn’t know if they were getting a S2 when writing S1 and there was just so much they could show. I have faith in the writers, I’ve liked how they’ve portrayed Malec, it was just very rushed.

    With S2 confirmed and with 20 episodes to boot, they have more time to show more!

  3. Hi says:

    I don’t mean to argue with you, I just want to state my own opinion. IT’S JUST A TV SHOW. There are lots of tv show couples who get to kiss after even shorter amount of time. And it’s just a kiss, it’s not like they got married. Even Alec himself said that they aren’t in love yet. And the part “we’re fed bits and pieces” is funny because I feel like we got more Malec in just one season of the show than we got in the whole book series. They were sidelined in the books and I completely didn’t feel them falling in love because they weren’t any moments leading to that. On the contrary, the show presents that slowly growing feeling in a beautiful way and I’m sure they will continue doing a great job in season 2.

  4. lionturtle says:

    This is clearly a matter of subjective opinion, since you’re holding Malec onto unnecessary high standards. The Shadowhunters show is super cheesy and has soapy writing to the point of melodrama, it’s angst galore. It’s a show where every dynamic and characterization is rushed, not to mention the plot is just a hilarious rollercoaster of campy fantasy. In that context, you’re gonna complain about a relationship being rushed?? About show not tell?? About dialogue not being up to your standards?? When all your arguments apply to every. single. thing. in the show??

    Let’s talk about angst. I’m gay and I really related to Alec’s closeted gay angst. You know. Alec’s entire storyline. Angst. About being gay. And closeted. Because it’s scary being gay in a heteronormative world. And because of his family commitments/duties. Angst. Alec’s entire storyline was angst. Him resisting his attraction to Magnus was literally angst angst angst. It’s not because you apparently were blind to it, that it wasn’t there lol.

    But I digress, I could go off and counter every argument and criticism you made, since I felt every melodramatic second of that Malec storyline in my gay soul, but it’s not even what you said, it’s about the needless double standards. Where is the specific isolated think piece of Clary and Jace falling in love at first sight and sucking face and acting like they’re each other’s soulmates?? Wasn’t that rushed or unearned?? I don’t even mind Jace/Clary, because I know that’s how tv goes. People fall in love in 2 episodes. Sweeping quick romance. That’s what gets audiences swooning. “A few stolen glances and looks of lust does not a relationship make.” Seems like you’re gonna have a problem with approximately 90% of all teen tv romances, awkward.

    So why single out Malec, what on earth spurred you on to be like “Hm, you know what the world needs? My criticism about Malec /specifically/, because that seems like an underrepresented LGBT ship that’s super popular, I bet that can get me some nice juicy clickbait reaction.”

    It’s not that there couldn’t have been more screentime, or that the dialogue couldn’t have been more explored, or that there couldn’t have been more scenes. It’s just that it applies to the entire show. To all of tv. On tv there ALWAYS “could have been more”. But it isn’t a “problem” for Malec at all, and especially not for Malec /specifically/.

    It’s just hilarious to me that someone wrote a self righteous critical think piece about an underrepresented LGBT ship on tv, as if you think that such an opinion is needed in this media landscape. I’ll tell you what is important about Malec. It was treated like a main YA romance. It’s a demon hunter guy with a dude with magic powers, the kind of fantasy romance combo that has always been meant for m/f pairings for centuries. It has a gay guy and a bisexual man. It’s an interracial pairing with an Asian man, who usually get sidelined or desexualized on television. It was the only relationship in the show that developed and ended hopefully. It reaffirms that being true to yourself is important and will lead you to more freedom and happiness. It showed friends supporting a relationship that was very scary for Alec to open himself up to. It showed that relationships are not simple, and that there’s angst in their past, present, and future (exes, family, shadowhunting duties, Magnus being immortal; all things that the show touched upon). It showed that an lgbt romance got the front stage with a climactic episode, and it was relatable and validating for a lot of young lgbt kids and their hopes and dreams for romance. It showed not instant gratification, it showed gratification after a season of interactions and angst, and that gratification is damn important in a media landscape where lgbt romances are usually tragedy central and where lgbt romance too often doesn’t get any gratification at all.

    What’s the problem again with doing a season-wide YA fantasy romance that ends in happiness? Are lgbt romances only “earned” and “believable” when it’s seasons of unhappy angst?

    You know what this piece sounds like? It sounds like someone who thought “Damn, I’m not feeling this, I don’t relate to this romance, therefore it’s problematic and not good enough.” Easy solution: then it’s just not for you. Because the LGBT kids who are swooning for this storyline? They’re beyond happy they finally got a story that they indeed, deserve, by now. It sounds like someone who felt the itching need to criticize a popular thing, forgoing all essential context as to what makes the thing so popular and important in the first place.

    Long story short, if it was really just a think piece about the issues with insta love and the writing on the Shadowhunters, there was no need to single out Malec at all.

    1. Poppy Simeri says:

      I want to slow clap this entire response because it’s on point & honest, and thank you for sharing how this story line reached you & impacted you as a viewer.

      The complaints laid out here are 100% complaints against the show’s pacing and dialogue ON THE WHOLE, and to single out Malec is incredibly reductive and dismissive of the great things bringing the Malec story line on screen (because it happened mostly off screen in the first trilogy of TMI).

      1. fangirlishadmin says:

        Before you go and say that we’re singling out Malec – we have written about Clace first and will write about Sizzy.

      2. Poppy Simeri says:

        Thank you for letting me know that, because it wasn’t linked to or mentioned within this post that this was part of a larger series, and I came to this post because it was promoted on a social feed. So, I had no idea it was a part of a larger set of posts you were doing. It may be beneficial to link these posts about the relationships portrayed this first season together as you post them to help guide readers through the larger discussion y’all are hoping to have on this topic.

  5. Caye says:

    I just wanna ask if we’re watching the same show? When I read the books I felt that Clace was far more “insta-love” than Malec was on the show. I felt the chemistry in all the relationships on the show, and honestly felt the build up for the kiss moment, not because Alec was saying he loved Magnus, but for Alec open himself up and allow himself to feel happy. The kiss was so no one could deny it not even him.
    Thank you for sharing your opinion. I understand it’s hard not understanding good writing seeing as how many people can’t understand Shakespeare or Tolkien.

  6. Aly says:

    If you read the books, and read about Malec’s first kiss, it was even more “insta-love” than it was in the show. Magnus literally saved Alec, and the next day Alec goes to Magnus’ apartment and they’re making out on his front step. Yes, Alec came out quicker in the show but he’s older and they’re of course going to change things. Also, Malec did have more of a development in the show than in the books. So if you say the show’s ruining Malec who are beloved characters to you because they don’t have any development, you could read again.

  7. Lo says:

    I think it’s interesting how you call the show mediocre, the characters half-assed and the writing crappy and yet the only ones who seem shitty enough to deserve an article from you are Magnus and Alec. Now, why might that be? I don’t see you, for example, writing all about the problems in Jace and Clary’s writing. Probably because there really is nothing to say. There’s a girl, and there’s a guy, they find each other super hot, and they’re gonna kiss one day, and they’re probably on their way to an “epic love story” and you know this approximatively five seconds into their first meeting. And no one is gonna care one way or another if there’s any build-up or not. And no one is gonna ask for evidence, or “more showing”, because no one needs it. Because there’s a guy, and there’s a girl, and they’re into each other. The end.
    But no, instead it’s Alec and Magnus who have to work for it, who have to deserve being a couple, who have to deserve getting their first kiss, who have to get the perfect build-up for their first kiss, who have to earn it. Because that’s what it’s about, isn’t it? You think they have to earn being in the spotlight. You think they have to prove that they have all it takes to be in the spotlight. (I won’t blame you if you say i’m totally wrong, because you probably don’t even realise it. But that’s what it is. And i think that’s exactly what your little “Malec definitely took the spotlight this season and we understand why.” means. And I really think you shouldn’t be saying things that sound like that.)
    The fact is, I, a gay girl, started watching this show, without having ever read the books, in part because i wanted to watch something fun and ridiculous, because why not, but mostly for Malec, because I knew that they would end up together, and that I, for once, wasn’t gonna start seeing mutual attraction between two characters of the same gender, only to have them never end up together at all because they were straight the whole time and I was just delusional. (I mean, yes! won’t deny that I am.) So yes, I can make your biggest fears come true if you want: I WATCH SHADOWHUNTERS FOR MALEC. And honestly? I’m not the only one. (Do you know how many of my friends started watching it AFTER they kissed? And they were happy. We were happy. Who cares.)
    I’ll admit freely that thanks to My Very Shameful Reason For Watching I didn’t need any sort of build-up. I was sure they were ready to kiss by episode 6, if not before, if we’re honest, and all I needed to think that was that they were looking at each other like they wanted to. And that Magnus asked Alec to get a drink in episode 5 and Alec was saying yes so it’s not like i even had to pretend they were interested into each other. It was there. It was obviously there from both of them, and it didn’t go away just because Alec decided he had to get married for the sake of his family. Alec never denied he felt something (whatever it was) for Magnus. By the time of the wedding, they’d both been thinking about it for a while, so i’m not sure why exactly we’re supposed to wonder what led to this kiss. Maybe just the fact that they both wanted to.
    Which brings us to The Kiss, and The Wedding, and The Sacrifice (the wedding which, by the way, is the real problem in this show, the fact that they can’t bring drama without it being an homophobic storyline. which it WAS. but you’re not talking about that, and yet i’m pretty sure that would have given your article more substance). I guess, yes, given the lack of screentime they got (a thing I am totally agreeing with) we could say that no moments led to believe that Alec is willing to sacrifice everything for Magnus. Although that might just be because ALEC. IS. NOT. SACRIFICING. EVERYTHING. FOR. MAGNUS. Because, in fact, Alec is not sacrificing anything. He’s deciding not to live a lie for the rest of his life, he’s choosing himself for what seems to be the first time of his life and if he’s sacrificing anything, it’s for himself. Imagine he kisses Magnus at the wedding and for whatever reason never sees him again? Imagine he never even meets Magnus and still doesn’t marry a girl he’s never going to love. What has he sacrificed? Nothing. He chose his own happiness. And that’s really what the whole thing was about (as much as I hated it.)
    And if he’s doing it it’s, ACTUALLY, because Magnus led him to the possibility that he could choose his own happiness. Because with the exception of Izzy, Magnus is the one character in the show that actually cares about Alec and his feelings and his desires and who DOES in fact show it. Maybe you didn’t get the big ass slowburn build up you wanted, but you can’t deny that Alec’s relationship to Magnus is different to his other relationships. Because not only he’s shared his thoughts and feelings with Magnus, but Magnus actually listens, and gives him advice. And Magnus didn’t act like Alec was in love with him and was still going to marry someone else. All he said was Alec didn’t love Lydia and was never going to for the very obvious reason that Alec isn’t interested in women!!!!! And that therefore he shouldn’t marry her because they would all be miserable like. Pretty clear to me that he was right. And if he then tried to show Alec that whatever he felt for Magnus was more than whatever he would ever feel for Lydia, that was for Alec’s sake before his own. So that he wouldn’t be in a loveless marriage for the rest of his life!! Is that hard to understand? Anyway all that happened is that when Magnus interrupts the wedding Alec can’t breathe when he sees him BECAUSE OF HOW MUCH HE WANTS TO KISS HIM. And that’s it!!!! He didn’t decide to not get married in the name of an Epic Love but because he’s a super gay guy who loves guys and he wanted to kiss this super hot guy and as such he had no business being married to a woman EVER. And that’s what the wedding is about. And that’s what most Malec scenes lead to, in fact, along with the rest of Alec’s scenes: finally choosing what he wants after putting everyone’s needs before himself for his entire life. That’s his arc in season 1, really, and then there’s also the fact he really finds this hot guy Magnus Bane really really hot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And he wants to kiss him. SO. MUCH. AND THEN HE DOES. And this is it!
    So maybe it could have been better written (yes! it could have. and they definitely should have had more scenes) but it didn’t come out of nowhere, and it was there. As for the “epic love story” I’m sure no one asked you to believe in one. They’ve been nowhere near declaring their everlasting love to each other. They haven’t even been on a date. Just because Alec kissed a different person at his own wedding than the one he was supposed to marry doesn’t mean he and Magnus are close to getting married. Because they’ve never been on a date!!! No one has said they were in love, not even them, All they acknowledged was a mutual interest that they’ve acted on by KISSING. (PASSIONATELY.) I don’t see what’s the problem. Why can’t they fall in love as they get to know each other better WHILE spending some time kissing. And more. I really don’t get your point. Why do they have to be in love before they even kiss? How is that even realistic? Why do they have to make people believe in their “epic love story” before they even kiss? Why should they have to live through like 2 years/seasons of “angst” before they finally get together? This is only the first season of the show. They haven’t started a family or anything like that. They’ve just kissed once. There’s nothing weird here??? Their relationship WILL get more developed (or not, but there’s nothing now that allows us to decide that) and the real issue here is that we have to wait until 2017, which is in forever.
    Anyway, this has gotten tragically long, but, I think, personally, there are problems with the show, and the writing, and the writing of Malec, but I’m also pretty positive your article didn’t mention any of them. Really I think the angry response of LGBT+ fans when they learned about this should have alerted you that this simply isn’t your place to write this. If they said you had a problem with Malec because they’re a gay couple on TV, even before you had written the article, there’s probably a reason. The reason is that it’s exactly what I think after reading this. You’re not being objective. You’re literally ignoring hundreds, maybe even thousands, of fictional heterosexual relationships, just to make the focus of the problem a m/m romance. Maybe you don’t think that’s what you’re doing. I understand!! Maybe you honestly disliked how Malec were written and portrayed and you felt that you had to say something about it. I GET IT. But I think if you do this without looking at the world you live in, at the people around you (especially those who have cmpletely different experiences), if you ignore who might read this and why they might – rightfully – get upset, if you refuse to accept that this is actually bigger than you then I don’t know…. i just think you went the wrong way about writing this. Maybe you’re gonna say you hate when m/f couples are ~insta-love~ and have no build-up either. I certainly believe you. But you didn’t choose to write an article about them. You chose to make the problem about the same-sex relationship. Can you really not see how you’ve done wrong? Can you really not see why people who like Malec (or not! maybe they don’t even care, maybe they don’t even watch shadowhunters, and yet they’re still mad) and who identify as lgbt+ don’t want to hear any of what you have to say? I saw the first mention of this on my twitter feed, back when it wasn’t written or published, and I thought “please don’t. no one wants to see this.” And now that I’ve read it, well. I was right. And fans “became defensive” because this isn’t the one and only article. This isn’t the first time articles are written to Denounce how Problematic a same-sex ship is. We became defensive because we didn’t want to see this, and we had to, and now we feel bad (I mean, obviously, I didn’t have to read this. Obviously. But I doubt it would have done you any favours if only people who aren’t pissed off by this read it). But feel free to make it about yourself and how you write what you want. I’m not a big fan of wishing ill will on anyone, but maybe you should wonder if people didn’t “use curse words” because they didn’t know how else to react. Because we’re angry!! Because we get this daily. Because we have to deal with articles like this, that think they’re delivering some well-argumented and life-changing thoughts but that are just recycling homophobic complaints, all the time! Of course you write about what you want. Of course you have perfectly the right to not like Malec or how they were written. Of course you can write about how much you don’t like Malec or Shadowhunters on your own website. But perhaps before you do that you should realise that you’re not doing anything groundbreaking here, that this isn’t about you, that you are part of the problem, and if several people are angry they ever had to see this nonsense, that it exists in the first place, it should maybe give you a little hint that you’ve fucked up somewhere. Cause you have. But I believe in you and I’m sure you can admit that in the end. Have a good day.

  8. Poppy Simeri says:

    Alec’s arc of being a closeted gay man, and a gay man that nearly chooses to be closeted because of his fears of rejection and shame from his family, his friends, and his community is realistic, and it’s heartbreaking, and watching him move through that arc to a place where he wants to be open about himself & with himself — and for now, with Magnus in some way — is incredibly inspiring: to both the gay community and also young people falling in love. The Malec arc is just beginning, and it’s going to be a story that builds and develops and works against the societal stigmas surrounding homosexual and interracial relationships, and that’s so incredibly important; this should not be reduced to moments of bad pacing and awkward dialogue.

    Because these complaints you level against Malec here also affect Jace/Clary, Clary & Simon’s friendship, Jace & Alec’s parabatai bond, etc. etc. The first season absolutely missed a few beats of pacing; it had some fumbling dialogue and some stiff dialogue; it focused all of it’s exposition into the first four episodes, so the season stumbles over those episodes and doesn’t quite catch its feet by the end. But on the whole, this season is a smart, faithful adaptation with a strong cast, and a respect for the relationships being built over the first season.

    At the heart of that is a respect for the Malec arc — which happened almost entirely off-screen in the books, except for a few run-ins when plot necessitated it, and with an epic, shocking Malec kiss in City of Glass in front of friends, family, and strangers at an emotional, poignant moment for the entire Shadowhunter community; the kiss at the end of season 1 absolutely captured the essence of that kiss from the books, and moving it up does not make it any more rushed or underwhelming. In the books, Malec develop a relationship off-screen, until Alec decides to bring it on screen, and that tone is captured throughout season one; however, the writers & producers of the show had the freedom of the medium to also give us more than just that, and develop those off-screen moments onscreen, and no matter how far between, they were still very important to the arc, and we have not by any means hit “insta-love” because Alec and Magnus are not in love.

    This is the beginning of a relationship arc with potential for an epic love, and sure, we know it’ll happen because we’ve read the books, but speeding up the Malec arc in season one — to pull that kiss forward in the timeline — does not undermine their story; it enhances it because it allows us to be involved in its development going forward from here. It recognizes that two people afraid of falling in love for very different reasons is a relationship dynamic worth exploring on screen, and not just being relegated to the background of the Clary & Jace Show, which was required more in the books because of narrative perspective, and is opened up in the show because the medium allows for it.

    So yes, there are issues with pacing, and dialogue, and seriously, build your world in pieces, and trust your audience to follow along, but don’t lay all of this at the feet of Malec; it’s reductive and dismissive. And if you want to do that, add in Clace because that ship is actually built around the trope of “love at first sight.”

  9. Nasia says:

    I just fell like some people should think more before they go insult a 13-episode- s1 show which have like 5-6 different relationships to explore in this short amount of time, which has some inexperienced writers and then pin it to the only LGBT M/M relatioship in the show. Sure it’s cheesy and has some bad writing but we are talking about a YA fantasy teen show…not Game of thrones! Vampire Diaries’s Stefan and Elena were pretty rushed but nobody complained about them..And you know why? bacause they are the typical f/m relationship between a human girl and a vampire boy that felt conection from the first time they locked eyes and lets admit they were super cheesy, BUT THAT’S WHAT WE LIKE..YOU, ME, PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE! THATS WHAT YA TV SHOWS IS ABOUT, ITS AOUT CHEESY FANTASY STORYLINES THAT ARE RELATABLE! AND MALEC IS THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF THAT! DEALS WITH INSTANT ATTRACTION BUT REAL RELATABLE EVERYDAY PROBLEMS THAT LGBT PEOPLE DEAL WITH. The only disgrace that was done to the Malec relatioship is the books. Let’s face it maybe the writers didnt succed to make us swoon with the Clace storyline but the Malec hit us wriite on the feels and that’s why is the best ship on the fandom..why else would it be popular? Clearly they did this the right way! I just feel that you should have listened to the people who didnt want you to write this article. I not for respect of the fandom then for respect of the LGBT people..cause clearly this article is just you bashing on a m/m ship for no actual/real/justified/whatever-other-reason…maybe you should have find something else to base your opinion about malec on, cause this is not believable.

  10. Nasia says:

    I just fell like some people should think more before they go insult a 13-episode- s1 show which have like 5-6 different relationships to explore in this short amount of time, which has some inexperienced writers and then pin it to the only LGBT M/M relatioship in the show. Sure it’s cheesy and has some bad writing but we are talking about a YA fantasy teen show…not Game of thrones! Vampire Diaries’s Stefan and Elena were pretty rushed but nobody complained about them..And you know why? bacause they are the typical f/m relationship between a human girl and a vampire boy that felt conection from the first time they locked eyes and lets admit they were super cheesy, BUT THAT’S WHAT WE LIKE..YOU, ME, PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE! THATS WHAT YA TV SHOWS IS ABOUT, ITS AOUT CHEESY FANTASY STORYLINES THAT ARE RELATABLE! AND MALEC IS THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF THAT! DEALS WITH INSTANT ATTRACTION BUT REAL RELATABLE EVERYDAY PROBLEMS THAT LGBT PEOPLE DEAL WITH. The only disgrace that was done to the Malec relatioship is the books. Let’s face it maybe the writers didnt succed to make us swoon with the Clace storyline but the Malec hit us wriite on the feels and that’s why is the best ship on the fandom..why else would it be popular? Clearly they did this the right way! I just feel that you should have listened to the people who didnt want you to write this article. I not for respect of the fandom then for respect of the LGBT people..cause clearly this article is just you bashing on a m/m ship for no actual/real/justified/whatever-other-reason…maybe you should have find something else to base your opinion about malec on, cause this is not believable.

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