Shadowhunters reveals us that it’s possible to showcase fearless women who can be great leaders in a book adaptation. Book adaptations are always tricky, especially if there’s an already established fan base. As a creator or producer, you have to face one of the biggest challenges in this business: the expectations of fans. Creating a realistic TV adaptation took some adjusting character-wise, especially in Clary who’s the lead character of the Shadowhunters series. With that being said, the producers were able to successfully transfer the women portrayed in the books onto our screens, giving us role models who are strong and capable without being emotionless.
We meet Clary Fairchild on the day of her 18th birthday, the day that changed her life forever. From that day forward she becomes a shadowhunter. It wasn’t much of a choice. It was rather a necessity after her mother’s kidnapping.
Clary’s mom played a crucial role in starting Clary’s journey with the shadowhunters. She spelled her memories so she won’t remember her heritage. Thanks to that, Clary isn’t prepared for what’s going to happen. Still, you can understand the mother’s motives to protect her child. It’s also the love for her mother that motivates Clary to get through all the obstacles in her way to free her mom.
Her mother’s death is also a catalyst for a lot of the drama in season 2. It forces the young shadowhunter to grow up even quicker than the kidnapping did. Clary has to deal with the passing of her mom, the grief on top of all the other problems the Institute faces. Also, Clary grew up without a father. It was later revealed that her dad is Valentine Morningstar, the villain that wants to destroy the world as we know it. She doesn’t really have a relationship with her dad, as he is the cause of a lot of problems the shadowhunters face. While not having a father growing up, she did have someone stand in for that role. Her mother’s friend, and a werewolf, Luke is always there to guide her and often be the voice of reason.
Although Clary didn’t know anything about the supernatural world surrounding her she’s quite the quick study. She catches on pretty easily. While she has a lot to learn, her determination and intuition help her a lot. Thanks to them, it doesn’t seem to take her long to be a good shadowhunter.
Not growing up training to be a shadowhunter seems to be a blessing and a curse for Clary. It makes her prone to disobeying the laws she deems unfair and helps her to empathize with the Downworlders. She treats everybody equally and doesn’t discriminate. Clary seems to be making decisions with her heart rather than her head.
Being lead by her emotions often forces her to go head first into danger without knowing the consequences or making a plan. That’s often the reason while she’s in more trouble than necessary. Even though she sometimes doesn’t think through her decisions, she never intends to hurt the people she cares about. She’s pretty much still just a teenager trying to figure out her life with some added supernatural problems. When her life gets to be too much Clary retreats to her room or an art studio where she’s seen painting or sketching. Her deep interest in art assists in her ability to draw new runes and could stem from it as well.
Whilst all the crazy stuff is happening Clary meets new friends, allies, forms relationships, and falls in love. The new people in her life help her grow and discover her strengths. Although some of the friendships have rocky starts (like the one with Alec), every one of them teaches Clary something important and new.
One would think that with such a busy life Clary wouldn’t have time for relationships. You couldn’t be further from the truth. Right from the beginning there is na attraction between her and Jace. Then there is the crush her best friend Simon has on her. The producers played the idea of a love triangle between these characters quite interestingly, which I attribute to the source material of the books. Although Clary’s relationship with Simon was sweet and innocent, it never appealed to me. I always thought they were better off as friends. Furthermore they lacked chemistry and Clary’s strong personality seemed to be to much for Simon.
Jace and Clary, on the other hand, made sense right from the beginning. They challenged each other to be better and pushed each other to overcome obstacles for the other. They had great chemistry and struggled to keep the romantic feelings at bay when they thought they were siblings. Thankfully, it turned out they are not related and the romance could bloom. It added a lighter tones to Clary’s story and gave her an opportunity to be a regular teenager. Her love for Jace was also the reason she made one of her biggest mistakes: wishing on an angel to bring him back to life. This event spurred on a whole lot of troubles.
Clary is a character that a lot of the viewers can relate to. She’s a young girl whose life was turned upside down, but she takes all the changes in stride and tries to do her best. She’s a charismatic character that can unite people. She leads with her heart, and although she makes mistakes, she faces the consequences of her actions. She’s fiercely loyal and would do absolutely anything for her loved ones. That makes her a role model for young girls, showing them that even if you make mistakes you’re not a bad person.
The Conflicted Shadowhunter
Isabelle Lightwood comes from a long line of shadowhunters. Her family holds a lot of power and has made a name for themselves in the supernatural world. That being said, Izzy doesn’t seem to fit in. She is quite rebellious and doesn’t meet her parents expectations, especially her mother’s. This clearly causes friction between them. For example, Izzy dresses rather sexyily, preferring short skirts and a lot of tight leather pants paired with high heels. It doesn’t go well with the image her mother wants her to have—that of a professional successor to the family’s legacy. Furthermore, her mother seems to favor her brother Alec and hold Izzy to a higher standard.
Isabelle is a weapons master and excels in hand to hand combat. She also often uses her sexuality to gain information or catch a Downworlder.
As opposed to Clary, she grew up being a shadowhunter, though that doesn’t stop her from empathizing with Downworlders. She even had a relationship with a seelie, which, admittedly, caused her quite a few problems. Still, she’s a firm believer in doing what’s right no matter who’s being wronged. This causes an inner conflict between the law she was taught to obey and what seems to be the right thing to do.
Izzy had quite a few trials during the show, one of the more down to earth ones was battling an addiction. Granted, it was a supernatural one but still, the symptoms and effects were quite similar to human addictions. This highlighted that while being a well-trained, confident young women, she still makes mistakes and is often afraid to own up to them and ask for help.
While Izzy doesn’t have the best relationship with her mom, the relationship with her older brother Alec seems like any other sibling relationship. They not only support one another, but also call each other out if they make stupid choices. Furthermore, they back the others play no matter the consequences.
Although Izzy could be seen as a failure by some, to me she’s the strongest character because she strives to stay herself even if her family doesn’t accept it. She is an example of how to overcome your weaknesses and become a better version of ourselves.
Maia Roberts is a young werewolf and member of Luke’s pack. Out of all the young supernaturals, she seems to be the best adjusted. She was turned by an ex-boyfriend by accident and since then, joined Luke’s pack and lives her life working as a bartender.
She is a strong individual who has her own opinions that she isn’t afraid to express. She always putting the interests of the pack first and holds it in high regard. Although she has a lot of respect for Luke as a leader, she isn’t afraid to tell him when he’s wrong or when he makes a mistake. Her strong personality, great fighting skills and the ability to help young wolves to adjust to their new life would make her a great alpha. She was also the one who helped Simon when he became a vampire, which proves that she is capable of listening and empathizing with others.
She always stands up for what she believes in and isn’t afraid to fight for it, as evidenced by how she stood up to Jace when the Institute wanted to microchip Downworlders. Her character shows that no matter who you are, you still deserve respect and that everyone should be treated equally.
Maia is a strong, brave, and loyal woman who’ll do anything to protect her family and pack. That being said she isn’t flawless. Maia is very stubborn and quite hotheaded, which often makes it impossible for her to see the bigger picture.
Shadowhunters created a believable adaptation of the books, although it made some major changes, which in my opinion helped the show. The producers gave us a group of young capable women whose lives are hectic and troubled, but they still manage to overcome any obstacles. The women in Shadowhunters prove that there is a place for strong women who aren’t afraid to show their emotions while still being leaders. That one can come out the other side after making mistakes and stay strong through it all. The goal is to always strive to be the best version of ourselves no matter what’s happening around us.