I suppose it was inevitable. With the recent influx of reboots, sequels (do we really need more Sex and the City?), and movies getting series adaptations (I Know What You Did Last Summer, seriously?), it was only a matter of time before someone decided to make a Harry Potter TV series. It’s a huge money maker for Warner Bros., which has produced all eight HP films along with the Fantastic Beast prequel films (of which there are still three more to come), and the studio needs content to flesh out its various streaming services (HBO Max, Peacock).
Granted, news of the Harry Potter TV series is extremely limited because it doesn’t actually exist yet. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there have just been reports that HBO Max (which launched with the eight HP films before removing them after only three months) is exploring various possibilities for potential shows. No deal has been made, and nothing concrete has been established; it’s basically just a bunch of people having meetings and talking about very broad ideas.
The news has been met with mixed reactions, which is unsurprising – most announcements like this are. People will always make snap judgments, and there will always be people reminding everyone not to judge before we even know anything. But in this case…
Look, it’s no secret that Harry Potter fans have had a lot to deal with in recent years because of the increasing revelations that J.K. Rowling is not a very good person. Many fans, especially trans fans and other members of the queer community, have struggled to balance their love of Harry Potter with their feelings about its author.
It’s more than that, though. Even before Rowling’s personal opinions became widely known, there have been other issues. Media controversy surrounding Rowling’s anti-trans comments caused many fans to point out the racism, classism, and other problematic parts of the seven-book series. Years ago when Pottermore (the “official” site for all things HP, now called Wizarding World) released information on the other Wizarding schools in the world, there was a lot of backlash that Ilvermorny (the North American school, located in the United States) was started by a white woman that appropriated Indigenous culture. And as someone points out in the article linked at the beginning of this paragraph, there are three schools in Europe but only one in all of Asia.
Not to mention the fact that, for some fans, every new addition to the world of Harry Potter just makes things worse. I am not the only person who disavows all knowledge of The Cursed Child, which I’m sure is a very impressive stage play but whose plot is completely ridiculous. I haven’t seen The Crimes of Grindelwald because I was so underwhelmed by the first Fantastic Beasts. There’s also JK Rowling’s annoying habit of not writing things into the text and then mentioning it later as though it was always supposed to be there – Dumbledore’s sexuality, Jewish kids in Hogwarts, etc.
The less said about wizards’ bathroom habits the better.
And honestly? Fourteen years later, I’m still better about the epilogue. The Deathly Hallows epilogue is like the ending of How I Met Your Mother – it was written long before the books were finished and doesn’t take into account any of the developments that happened in the later parts of the series. That’s just bad writing.
Every time there is news of more Harry Potter content, I’m always torn. I love Harry Potter. I didn’t grow up on the series because I only discovered it in college, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s been very beneficial in my life. I have made many friends because of it. A few years ago, I would have rejoiced at the announcement of a Harry Potter TV series.
But it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that every time Rowling opens her mouth, a piece of me dies inside. I’m fairly positive that her extensive involvement in the Fantastic Beast films is what made them disappointing, and no doubt she’ll have the same level of control over any potential series.
When news of the not-yet-existing Harry Potter TV series broke earlier today, we had a discussion about it in our staff Discord. There was mention that it could potentially be very gay, which would be a plus in all of our columns. HBO seems committed to diversifying its offerings, particularly with LGBTQ+-inclusive content.
However, Game of Thrones had canonical queer characters and the show completely ruined them. Hell, according to Rowling Dumbledore is gay, though again, I haven’t seen Crimes of Grindelwald so I’ve no idea how well they handled his sexuality. We all know that all representation is not good representation, and just having gay characters on a series is no longer worth the gold star it once was.
There has always been extensive debate on separating the art from the artist. Can you still enjoy a piece of art – be it a book, a movie, a painting – when you disagree so vehemently with its creator? I am one of those people who largely cannot. I’ve never seen a Woody Allen film and don’t ever plan to, nor do I have any inclination to read Ender’s Game.
We’re at the point where Harry Potter fans need to have that discussion with themselves. It’s one thing when the content creator is deceased; they aren’t still earning money. It’s a totally different beast when the content creator is still alive and being paid. I don’t want to support people who are sexual predators, or homophobic, or domestic abusers when there is so much content available created by people who are not terrible.
That’s another thing about the Harry Potter TV series that bothers me. There are almost as many streaming services as television channels at this point (I alone have six subscriptions – including HBO Max but that’s because I have HBO in my cable package – and then an additional one that I definitely do not share with other people).
It’s very disheartening that instead of using the opportunity to explore new stories and reach out to talented new creators, every company just keeps digging through the discard bin and giving us more of the same. There are so many reboots, and while I’m looking forward to some (like the Disney+ Percy Jackson adaptation), I’m just really tired of not seeing any new content. Especially during a pandemic, when many people are working from home and able to watch more.
But Harry Potter has grossed more than $7 billion worldwide for Warner Bros., and in the end, that’s what matters in Hollywood.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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