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Representation in Freeform's 'Shadowhunters'

LGBT+, POC, and Powerful Women. 'Shadowhunters' has it all.

We all sit and binge watch television at some point in our lives. We find our favorites TV shows that way. A couple years ago I had many friends telling me I should watch Freeform’s Shadowhunters. So I thought "why not? I’ll try it." I tried it and spoiler alert, I LOVED IT! Though the show has always had a few problems with certain things (acting, writing, storylines, or lack thereof) the first season of this show drew me in for all of the amazing things that it brought to the table.

1. The Couple Changing the Shadow World: Malec

One thing that has become ever more present in much of our media is the representation of LGBT+ people. Almost every television show that I watch has some sort of LGBT+ rep. In Shadowhunters there’s one couple that has captured the hearts of not just the show’s fans, but people who don’t even watch the show. (Check Tumblr, I’m right.) The moment when Alec Lightwood, a Shadowhunter, stops his wedding to Lydia Branwell, another Shadowhunter, to walk back up the aisle to Magnus Bane, a warlock, and kiss him in front of his family and the most important and respected members of their government. That moment changed things for the entire Shadow World. Being gay in the Shadow World is a big "no." Well, right up until Alec kissed Magnus in front of everyone. After that kiss, it took a few episodes for the couple to become official, but now that they are, they have opened up the minds of some of the Shadow World. Alec’s mother is now accepting of his sexuality and his downworlder boyfriend. Other Shadowhunters have approached Alec thanking him for coming out because it paved the way for them. Calling him an inspiration. What a great thing to put into the show.

The way this couple is presented is almost odd. So many times the gay couple is presented in a fetishized or eunuch manner. And that’s not accurate to how the LGBT+ community lives. Alec and Magnus, or Malec, are presented as a normal couple. Doing normal couple things. Having breakfast together. Their morning routine, where Alec had a weird obsession with his boyfriend’s shampoo. And one of the most important things was the couple’s first time together. So many times we’ll see the straight couple half naked and making out. Clothes flying everywhere. But we don’t get to see that side of LGBT couples. In Shadowhunters episode 2x18, we see these two giggling and their clothes flying off. Falling onto the bed lips pressed together the entire time. It’s not like the fans wanted to see the couple getting busy, but they wanted equal time for Malec that the other couples would get since they’re straight. And not only did the fans get the couple falling into bed, but they got the couple’s morning after pillow talk. Waking up in each other’s arms. Smiling and happy. Man, can we get more of that please?

2. Representation matters.

Out of the eight series regulars, five are people of color. Not many shows or movies have that diverse of a main cast. Most people look for themselves when they sit to watch their favorite shows. And most fail to because the cast is very white. Luckily we are in a time where the main casts of shows are slowly becoming more diverse, but what they'll do is have that "token black woman/man" and say, “Yes, we’re diverse. See we have a black character.” Which is great, I guess, but just not enough. With the main characters in Shadowhunters they aren’t token characters. They’re simply people there to live their lives, their dangerous lives, but their lives. And not only does Shadowhunters have an incredibly diverse main cast, but many of their guest stars are POC as well. David Castro, Javier Muñoz, Chai Hansen, all people of color and reoccurring characters on the show. Those are just the ones I can recount at the moment. And for those who don’t know, this show was based on a series of books where not all of these characters were POC, but the casting brought in these incredible actors to bring the characters to life.

Having POC characters gives POC watchers something to see themselves in. People they can relate to. And when the characters aren’t token characters, but fleshed out people who aren’t there to just be POC, it makes them feel validated. The representation within Shadowhunters is one of the best out there. It’s one thing that I will always commend this show for. Other shows should follow suit, don’t you think?

3. Badass Demon Fighting Females

The lack of female characters in the media is actually depressing. The women will be all about love or in need of rescuing. Let me direct you to Clary Fairchild, Isabelle Lightwood, Maia Roberts, and Maryse Lightwood. These women are some of the strongest I’ve ever seen. They’re leaders in their communities. They go out on missions without the backup of the big strong man. Clary and Isabelle are young Shadowhunters that fight demons and other villains within the Shadow World. I’ve seen Isabelle go out on missions alone and come back with just a couple scratches. She doesn’t need a man to go with her. Clary, well she’s new so she normally has backup but a lot of times her back up is Isabelle, but she can still kick ass. Just as Maia Roberts, a werewolf, and Maryse Lightwood, former Shadowhunter do. Maia confronts other members of her pack to let them know that they are not in charge of her. That they can’t tell her how to live and she does so in a complete badass fashion. Maryse was high within the Shadow government, the Clave, before she was exiled. But she always led with her head first. And let me tell you with all these politicians saying women are too emotional to lead, Maryse Lightwood could teach them a thing or two. That woman went through so much. Her husband cheating on her, being exiled from her home, not to mention the countless demons she’s had to fight. And she always came out on top of things. Also stronger than when she went in.

Women keep speaking out telling the world that we need to see more women in these types of roles. Seeing women be strong and not need the man to help her through things. Even now I watch a lot of TV and many shows are led by men, most have the strong women who don’t need a guy, but it’s not enough. We need these characters in every show. Seeing Clary, Izzy, Maia, and Maryse be strong and independent, who don’t need male backup when kicking serious demon ass helps young girls. It even helps me at age 24. Seeing that men don’t lead the world, but are equal to us. Or as I like to say we’re equal to them. Can we have more Maryse Lightwoods on our TV’s please? Asking for a couple million of my female friends.

Shadowhunters is that show that people will make fun of. It’s got demons and vampires and people seem to come back to life at an alarming rate. But despite some of the cheesy dialogue and hammy acting in season one. The show has come into its own the last two seasons. All those things that fans want in their shows, Shadowhunters has. Badass women. A ton of POC characters and actors, with no whitewashing. And a gay couple who isn’t there just to get the teenage girl demographic, but to represent a real couple. Let’s have more shows like Shadowhunters, shall we? I mean I think it's about time.

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Representation in Freeform's 'Shadowhunters'
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