Review: The Magicians


When it first premiered on the SyFy channel in 2015, The Magicians used the tagline "magic is a drug," a signal to audiences that despite its kid-friendly premise—a group of millennials enroll in a school for spellcasters and travel to a Narnia-esque fantasy world—this was very much a show for adults. Like its source material, a popular trilogy of novels by Lev Grossman, The Magicians is filled with sex, violence, addiction, and angst. Protagonist Quentin Coldwater (think Harry Potter crossed with Holden Caulfield), who is clinically depressed, discovers that magic can't fix what's wrong with him. It may even make thing worse.

If magic is a drug, strictly regulating sorcery proves just as unwise as the drug war. The fourth season, which concluded in April, begins with a new world order: A bureaucratic organization called "the Library" has taken literal control, forcing all would-be magicians to fill out the proper forms—in triplicate—whenever they want to cast spells. It doesn't take long for the Library to go full NSA and start using its newfound surveillance powers to hunt down unlicensed magic users. In a development that hardly even counts as a spoiler, the Library's upper leadership is revealed to be using magic for a nefarious plot that could destroy the entire universe.

One of the show's most satisfying arcs involves a prominent Librarian realizing the truth and turning against her masters. The plot is ultimately foiled, but it results in a death as shocking as any in recent TV memory—one a polarized fan community is still processing.

NEXT: Review: Dark Phoenix

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  1. This has to be one of the most half-assed reviews I’ve ever read. Brief synopsis of fourth season without much commentary on the quality of the season. Two semi-spoilers. Thanks, Robby.

  2. I’m not up to the newest season yet. The show is entertaining, but I find myself struggling to care about the main character. It is very reminiscent of Harry Potter, but themed older with much more convoluted writing.
    If you can push past some of the lazier writing, poor plot progression, and some head-scratching character development then it’s an enjoyable fantasy/drama. Definintely check your brain in at the door, but enjoy the performances of several of the supporting cast.

  3. nerds.

    1. I’ve never seen the show. But I know Hollywood. If the premise where true, the it would be the nerds and geeks who will be going to school to learn magic. But this is Hollywood, so I know in advance that it will mostly be more photogenic jocks and dolls attending magic school. Or maybe they’ll want to make the show edgy and so stock the show with hipsters. Anyone in the show meant to represent an actual nerd will be a hawt chick that wears glasses to signify her nerdship.

      1. If I wanted to watch average looking nerds interact with each other I’d spend more time in my office.

      2. You got it right…the “nerd” on the show is the chick with glasses.

        The show is bad. Quentin Coldwater reminds me of the lead character from “The Room.”

  4. I liked reading the Harry Potter stories because she’s a good writer; but I was disappointed that her magic was so irrational and disjointed, and the kids were so uncurious about it. Did not like the movies at all.

    Then I found Garry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Right from the start, it had rational characters who were curious about magic. Then it slammed Quidditch for its stupid scoring system, and I was hooked. Harry goes on to actually investigate magic — what happens when you change a spell’s word with longer vowels, or change the wand movements just slightly?

    It has its flaws. It gets awfully talky sometimes. The characters can get too rational and perfect. But as far as I’m concerned, it fixes 99% of what I didn’t like about the irrational Harry Potter world, and it’s mostly pretty good writing.

  5. This show has so much potential but has the cringiest, and I hate to say it, SJW dialogue ever. Like, I can tolerate quite a bit and am okay with the occasional cringe to get a political point across, but this show is just paaaaaainful

    1. Pretty much. I still watch because some characters are interesting and the world intrigues me. They do hammer some sjw stuff harder than i can stomach

  6. Where the fuck is the rest of the article?

    1. Did Robbie get canceled mid-article?

  7. Love is the drug, although love is like magic and stuff.

    Anyone recall Roxy Music?

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