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Facilis descensus Averno
“The descent into Hell is easy.” (Vergil, Aeneid VI.124)
The above Vergil epigraph is, of all things, the creed of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters — Nephilim warriors who fight demons unbeknownst to mundanes like you or me within her wildly popular series, The Mortal Instruments. It stresses that, essentially, it’s really easy to go down the wrong path, even with the best of intentions. And, oh, has the descent been easy…for their adaptations.
The Mortal Instruments series has had it rough when it comes to adaptation. Back in 2013, they got a movie, something that the studio, I’m sure, hoped would spawn a franchise. As you can guess, it didn’t really work out — mainly because The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was a poor adaptation (with potential) that ultimately failed due to lazy writing that sought only to cash in upon the success of similar “teen film franchises” such as The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games. But I don’t want to talk about the City of Bones film because, very recently, The Mortal Instruments has gotten a mulligan. They’ve gotten a shot at adaptation redemption.
The newly-rebranded FREEFORM (formerly ABC FAMILY) has just completed airing its first season of Shadowhunters, a television series loosely based upon The Mortal Instruments novels; season 1 drew predominantly from the first novel, City of Bones. Now, as this is a television series as opposed to a feature film, there are far more minutes of material to sift through, and trying to cover all the adaptive aspects of this show would take far too long. So, what I’m going to do is focus in on only two specific adaptive changes — a positive and a negative — that I noticed within the show’s first season because, while I am, admittedly, unlikely to continue further watching the series, Shadowhunters did manage to pull out some adaptive changes that I found interesting, whether or not I think they always succeeded.
SPOILER WARNING: The following post may contain spoilers for certain elements related to The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare as well as Season 1 of Shadowhunters. You have been warned.