Friday, June 9, 2023

I’m the Biggest Harry Potter Fan in the World. But Even I’m Asking – Is This New TV Series a Good Idea?

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Kelly Bertrand – the biggest Harry Potter fan you’ll find – asks if HBO’s new series is a good idea

When it comes to Harry Potter fans, it’s hard to find a bigger one than me. Bold statement I know but facts are facts.

My knowledge of the books is encyclopaedic – so much so I worry about how much ISN’T in my brain because all the space is taken up with spells, charms and the Weasley family tree.

It’s giving peak millennial, it’s giving basic b**** – it’s giving precocious yet wildly anxious circa 2003 Kelly who, rather than try and navigate social cues and get in with the cool kids, chose to stay holed up in her room reading, and then rereading, and then rereading, Harry Potter. Yup, I was a cool 13-year-old.

I was so lame that I called my dad to pick me up from the after ball early – the same after ball I’d spent months begging my parents to let me go to which, upon reflection, they were right to have reservations about because it was in a gang headquarters in south-east Auckland’s industrial district – because the new Harry Potter book had come out that day, and I would rather be at home reading than drinking Cindys with my mates. (Pretty sure my dad didn’t worry about me after that.)

My love of HP is so much that I was a proud part of a Harry Potter pub quiz team called That’s So Ravenclaw, and we were good enough to make it through to the national finals (I know, I know).

My little Gryffinclaw soul couldn’t adore the books more, and I still re-read them every year, and get disappointed when I finish all seven. I would give, perhaps not an arm, but maybe a finger, for more books.

But even I have to question if this new television series, following the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione in what will apparently be a more faithful adaptation of the books, is a good idea.

Why? Well, why spoil what is so good?

HBO has announced a Harry Potter streaming series, with author JK Rowling as an executive producer, with some of the film’s brains trust also returning.

If you’re a true Potterhead (kia ora to everyone who identities as such) then you’ll be in agreement that the movies, while nice, were trash adaptations of the books (don’t get me started on movie Ginny).

i’m so much of a fan that of course I have a custom Hogwarts-esque portrait of myself

Of course, there were limitations on how much could be included in movies that spanned so many thousands of pages – but so much of what makes Harry Potter great is the colour and chaos that surrounds the main plot threads.

And while a television series potentially allows for more of those subplots – the backstory of the Marauders, for example – to be explored, there are still so many unknowns around a telly series.

Potterheads have cause to be weary – the Fantastic Beasts movies were disappointing at best – and this series seems to be a rehash of material we already know and love with a new cast (good luck to the kid who has to be the new Harry Potter). This, like those movies, screams ‘cash grab’.

But there are other, more serious reasons why this Harry Potter TV series is a bad idea. Of course, there’s the ongoing issues with JK Rowling’s inflammatory opinions regarding transgender rights, which promise to cast a shadow over everything she’s involved with. Once my personal idol, the author has all but destroyed her legacy with ill-advised and offensive comments regarding trans men and women.

And then there’s the ubiquitous world ‘faithful’ when describing the TV’s series intended adaptation. Don’t throw a word around unless you mean it, and by this, TV Ginny better actually have a personality that doesn’t resemble a tea towel.

Could there have been a better way of expanding the HP universe? Could we have had a prequel of the marauders, perhaps – a Young Sheldon kind of approach in exploring James and Lily’s time at school?

Who knows – but I know I can’t be the only superfan with some trepidation about this TV series. Do we need to evanesco the whole thing?!

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