The Magicians, like wine, cheese, and Idris Elba just gets better with time. The Syfy channel fantasy/drama has gone from being so-so to highly entertaining. Pretty much as soon as the fourth season premiered, the show was renewed for a fifth season. That’s a lot of faith to put in a show so early on, especially a fantasy show that isn’t Game of Thrones. While The Magicians doesn’t necessarily have the following GOT does, it still brings something to the fantasy/sci-fi/drama figurative table. The heavier themes woven into the storyline brings the characters out of some fantasy world into real life. In four seasons, many adventures have been had, but not without deep valleys. You have a year to binge the show before it returns for season five. There’s even time to watch the final season of GOT and watch The Magicians before season five airs.
Though I do recommend binging this show, I recommend a slower binge over the course of a few weeks or months. The first season is fairly easy to plow through, but like I said, with time the show became more entertaining. As the characters develop and storylines deepen, you have to pay attention. Also, there are a few extremely sad episodes that warrant a break to watch Parks and Recreation or The Office, so you can feel happiness again before diving back into the the adventures of the magicians.
The show follows the adventures of a man, Quentin Coldwater, and his friends in modern day (sorry, no magical or made up world here). Seems simple enough. Quentin grew up reading books about a magical place called Fillory (a spoof of Narnia). He then gets accepted in a graduate school for magic (like Hogwarts but not). He and his friends go on quests and have storylines that span a few seasons (maybe go check it out? I’m not trying to have any spoilers here). In these few seasons, dark topics like rape and suicide play a major role. While these topics aren’t really a new concept for anyone, seeing them in a fantasy story but with real life actions written in is refreshing. It’s like the writers room tried to intentionally write about real life problems that people even in a magical setting might deal with, like depression.
Throughout each season characters experience depression, and not that one episode they had a really bad day depression. Like normal folks who experience depression, the characters on this show have periods of depression plagued with suicidal thoughts. Not exactly a feel good moment in this fantasy land, but as it turns out, the story imitates real life. Even when one gets the thing they most wanted in life, they can still be depressed and still think about taking their own life. Unlike some shows that deal with mental health and glamorize suicide (looking at you, 13 Reasons), The Magicians approaches depression with a bit more care. Not to throw shade, but mental health overall is a topic that requires a level of care from the creators and producers. Of course, we’re making positive progress as a society towards addressing mental health concerns, but that doesn’t mean we’ve reach the summit. We all consume a lot of content through the shows we watch, it’s important that the stories of mental health address all the various factors at play. It’s not as simple as writing a sad character and filming a scene where they go talk to a counselor once and are all better forever. Like anything else, physical health or emotional health, mental health is something folks have to maintain over their lives. So if a character on a show is depressed, they aren’t just depressed for an episode and it doesn’t necessarily look like them laying on the couch eating ice cream. People can be highly functional going through their lives but carrying a weight that they just can’t shake off. It’s a long-term thing that take management and utilizing resources, and it’s not a one-size fits all fix.
Now don’t walk away from this thinking every episode of this show is going to weigh on you emotionally. In fact, there will be more episodes where you watch and are left wondering what actually just happened. There have been a few musical episodes, some nods to all the great fantasy stories of our time (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia, GOT). The quirks of this show make it fun, but the realness of aspects of the stories makes it relatable.