“The Mortal Instruments” book series by Cassandra Clare has made the leap from book to film and now, finally, to television in Freeform’s (formerly ABC Family) newest series Shadowhunters. While it can seem to fall short at times, the series is at the very least well-performed and surely worth checking out. The show takes a different perspective than its earlier film adaptation from 2013 which actually makes the storyline more interesting, given these new aspects. Read our review and find out just why you should check out Shadowhunters.

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A Plot with a Different Perspective

If you did happen to read the books before watching this series, you’ll see that the overall plotline stays pretty true to the books. We open with Clary who had no idea that she was a shadowhunter and meets Jace, with whom she begins her adventure. Though that is on par with the series, the actual timeline of events has been changed. For instance, events that occur at the end of the book, “City of Bones,” take place in the pilot of Shadowhunters. I get using part of the plot to keep viewers wanting more, but it’s kind of strange in a narrative sense to do something like this. Nonetheless, this is a choice Shadowhunters chose to make, and frankly, they did manage to pull it off. No harm, no foul. 

Another pretty big change made from the original story is the look of the Institute. While described much differently in the novels, Shadowhunters presents it to look much flashier and high-tech. Since this doesn’t really affect the story, it actually just adds a nicer aesthetic to the series.

The Chemistry of the Cast

The cast of Shadowhunters is definitely not lacking in chemistry. Everyone blends together really well, which is saying something, considering it’s noticeable in just the first episode. 

Self-importance and overconfidence are two major qualities in the character of Jace, and Dominic Sherwood relays them perfectly. His performance isn’t over-the-top and makes you believe that there’s something more that arrogance to this guy. Sherwood balances quite well with Alberto Rosende, the actor who plays Simon. 

Based off of the trailer, I wasn’t really sold on Katherine McNamara as Clary, but I’m happy to admit that I was wrong. Her performance (given that she had very little to do in the first episode) was just what you would want Clary to be like. The only thing missing is the sarcastic tone that makes Clary so special. 

Additionally, Matt Daddario impresses audiences to know end with his portrayal of Alec. Daddario brings something to Alec that makes you believe, without having to say it, that he constantly puts others in front of himself and feels a deep responsibility to do so. His relationship with Clary isn’t off to the best start, so the reason for that will be an interesting storyline to explore. All in all, the cast does a great job of playing off of each other.

Shadowhunters Still Needs to Find its Groove

There’s no denying that the show was able to introduce this world and its peculiar characters quite well. However, not everything about the show has been pulled off perfectly. Though the characters made do with what they had, the dialogue left a lot to be desired. It was very low-substance and most of the time just didn’t feel believable. Most of the jokes made were very obvious and lacked some serious subtlety. Granted, it’s a pilot episode, which most of the time has to hit these things right on the nose. Hopefully this isn’t something that will carry on throughout the show, because as of now, it just seems like Shadowhunters doesn’t have a distinctive voice of its own.

Shadowhunters premieres Tuesday, January 12 at 9pm on Freeform.

(Image courtesy of Freeform)

Kartik Chainani

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV