Of all the characters in the Mortal Instruments series, Simon is probably the one that translates best to screen. He’s funny, nerdy, relatable, and the one guy who seems to realize how absolutely crazy (and awesome) his situation is. He could easily be mistaken for the archetypical “funny best friend,” but he’s always been much more than that. Like every other character, he’s nuanced, complex, and deals with a whole lot of darkness in his life. His relationships are wonderfully complicated and entertaining. His journey from book one to book six and beyond is perhaps the most drastic. And his character is one thing that the Shadowhunters TV show has gotten right.
Let’s start with the obvious: Alberto Rosende is one of the strongest actors on a very underrated cast. His comedic timing, his expressions, and his delivery of the best lines in the show are enough to make every one of his scenes entertaining. In the first two or three episodes, when the plot was way too complicated and nobody had any idea what was going on, Simon was there to echo our thoughts and remind us that we’re not really expected to understand everything right away. When the dialogue was unbearably cheesy and the acting was mediocre at best, Alberto was there to remind us that this show still had potential.
It would have been easy for Shadowhunters to to fall into cliches and turn Simon into mere comic relief, but thankfully they didn’t. The writers were smart enough to understand that Simon’s value extends well beyond his sense of humour and his effect on the main characters. They gave him his own storyline, and in doing so made him an important and meaningful member of the cast.
Simon is not a carbon copy of his book counterpart. No character on the show is. He’s a much more faithful adaptation than most of the other characters, yes, but he’s also his own person. His sense of humour is slightly different. His geekiness manifests itself in different ways. His relationships are very different. And no, I don’t like him as much as I like book Simon, but I don’t feel like I have to. Alberto’s Simon isn’t a replacement for Robbie’s Simon or Cassie’s Simon, but rather his own character that fans can love individually.
This season, Simon has experienced unimaginable ups and downs. He’s discovered a fantasy world hidden beneath his own city. He’s met a myriad of people who will surely have a lasting effect on his life going forward, from Isabelle to Jace to Raphael. He’s had his entire life turned upside down with one vampire bite. He’s struggled to retain his humanity and find his place in downworld. He’s lost hope of ever being more than best friends with Clary, then found it again at the end of the season. And there are so many new directions Shadowhunters can go with his character.
They could go the City of Ashes route and explore the psychological effects of suddenly being forced to throw your entire life away in order to hide away in the dark and live out your eternal unlife with creatures you don’t feel any kinship with. They could dive into the experience of being shunned on both sides by people who see you as an outsider, as Simon is in City of Glass, as a daylighter who still considers himself a human being. Even if they don’t introduce the Mark of Cain storyline just yet, it’s surely something that books fans can look forward to down the line.
And all that is without diving in to the relationships opportunities for Simon. In the short term, “Climon” has much more chemistry than any of the other relationships in the show, and the idea of them exploring the attraction between them is much more intriguing than another season of Clary and Jace making doe-eyes at each other. “Sizzy” – or the pairing of Simon and Isabelle, for the uninitiated – has the makings of a wonderful slowburn, which hasn’t exactly been the forté of these writers so far.
The Shadowhunters team has done almost everything I could have asked for with Simon. They’ve treated him with respect. They genuinely seem to understand him. They haven’t made unnecessary or drastic changes to his character. And they have made me love him as his own adorable, unique character, not as a pale imitation of his book counterpart. For that, I’m grateful.