Characters can represent parts of ourselves, which is why so many fans become infatuated with the individuals in their favorite stories. Whether a character is relatable because they show us good or bad parts varies, but we become fans when we feel seen and represented in their fictional worlds. Characters teach us something when we read, watch, or play through their story, something that changes our perspective on life. My favorite stories involve characters that use harmful coping mechanisms at the beginning of their journey and end up learning better ways to look after themselves in the end. One of those stories is The Magicians, a novel by Lev Grossman.
The Syfy television adaptation of The Magicians is one of those TV shows that can make me forget I’m watching TV due to its immersive world-building and realistic character development. The premise of the show is a world in the 21st century wherein magic exists. Magicians are real and keep their arcane gifts a secret from people without them. It’s basically the world of Harry Potter if the characters were aged up ten years, used profane language, occasionally abused substances, and started out their friendship disliking each other. Unlike the Wizarding World, however, there is no “chosen one.” The magicians in this world are just regular people who face rejection, failure, betrayal, love, and friendship, and find ways to cope. The Magicians is five seasons of relatable characters that take the hits as they come, dealing with the stress of their lives in the only ways they know how. They lean on crutches, isolate themselves, betray friends, and make mistakes with consequences magnified by the power of magic, only to learn that the best thing they can do in a time of crisis is to ask their friends for help. It’s poetic how the most common path to a solution–even in a world where its very atoms can be manipulated–is to ask someone for help. By sharing the burden, our group of magicians evolves into healthier and happier versions of themselves.