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Does the new Percy Jackson show live up to the old?

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Upon hearing that Disney was making a new Percy Jackson show and that Rick Riordan was the executive producer, I was immediately intrigued. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the infamously bad Percy Jackson movies. Partially to preserve my fond memories of the books and partially because the actors that play Percy and Annabeth looked like siblings. Rick Riordan was my favorite author as a child and having read many of his books, I had high hopes for the show. 

  

    While I have various thoughts on the show, I’d be remiss not to address the casting controversy before giving them. In the Percy Jackson books, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover were all written as white. In the 2010 and 2013 movies, Percy and Annabeth were white and Grover was played by a Black actor. Now Percy is played by a white actor, Grovers’ actor is of South Asian Descent and Annabeth’s is … Black. 

  

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    Despite this change being made by Rick Riordan himself. Fans have not failed to express their anger at Annabeth being played by a black actress. In the past I have said that casting Black actors as canonically white characters is “lazy” which is true in most cases but this casting on Riordan’s part is justified.  In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to cast canonically white characters as black because they would already exist, but the truth is it hasn’t been long that authors have begun to write black leads in their books. 

  

   Less than 10 years ago, mainstream shows with little to no black characters were completely normal. I grew up loving television like Mean Girls, Once Upon a Time, and Gilmore Girls. Loving them, however, didn’t mean that I saw myself in them and watching these shows was like being on the outside looking in.   

  

    Had I not heard that Annabeth was played by a black actress, I wouldn’t have bothered to watch the show. Like many others I no longer invest my viewership into television that was not made with people who look like me in mind. 

  

   Riordan has continued to stand by his decision, stating on his website that “I have been clear, as the author, that I was looking for the best actors to inhabit and bring to life the personalities of these characters, and that physical appearance was secondary for me.”  I would recommend reading his entire statement on the matter. 

  

   As much as I wish that there was a plethora of mainstream books with black leads waiting to be adapted into television, there isn’t. Writing takes time and until these stories are told. It’s conscious decisions like Riordan’s that make it so that when these stories are written, studios know that there is an audience for them. 

  

   With that being said, the show itself is targeted at a younger audience, so it isn’t what I would typically watch. Still, I found it enjoyable regardless. It is refreshing to see this series be true to the age group it was written for instead of aged up like many series today. The show matched the books very closely in pacing and content which is something many fans found the movies failed to do.  

  

   The writing, however, is where this show falls short. Some of the lines come off as awkward and stale despite them being delivered with chemistry. There was too much exposition and not enough action.  While it wasn’t the worst writing I’ve seen, it fell below my expectations, and I have dropped shows for less. The quality of the writing is reminiscent to that of The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, or Riverdale. A production can only go so far with a bad script. 

  

   What really hurt the writing is that we don’t get to see the relationship between the main three developed enough onscreen. Which is due mostly to the expositional nature of the writing. The whole season has felt more like a set-up for action than actual action. Something that many studios, such as Marvel, have suffered from recently. The show was more plot driven than character driven, but many fans, me included, love the books more for the dynamics between the characters than the plot. 

  

   The show focused so much on matching the book that they weren’t quite able to catch the essence of the book, which is the friendship between the main three. Ironically, the off-screen interactions of the trio match the energy of the book much better than the show. 

Many of these grievances can be easily fixed with some tweaks to the writing in future seasons. It’s important to note the show is also meant for a younger audience, so naturally, it won’t have the complexity that many older fans want. If I had watched this as a 12-year-old I would have given it 5/5 stars. But looking at this with a more discerning eye, I would have to give it a 3/5 stars. Meaning cinematically, it is stronger than weak, but the writing needs improvement.   

  

 

 

 

 

The show is full of potential, and I’ll be waiting for the next season to see if Percy Jackson and The Olympians will suffer from the same flaws or build on the first season and improve. The first season was a promising start, but the show has yet to reach its full potential. 

 

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About the Contributor
Fenou Zinzindohoue, Reporter
My name’s Fenou, I’m a sophomore. I like long walks to target and smelling scents at bath and body work’s. I like writing too.
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