Inclusion and Representation on TV and #MalecDeservesBetter

I recently started watching Freeform’s Shadowhunters TV series. Let me be clear on one thing, though, I have not read the books. The main reason I started watching the show is because I saw this Youtube video titled 50 Reasons to Love Malec (or something like that; I can’t remember anymore). Anyway, I have heard of “Malec” before and I knew it was a ship name for two guys, but I had no context whatsoever. So, I watched the video, which contains scenes showing Alec (Matthew Daddario) and Magnus (Harry Shum, Jr.) figuring out their feelings for each other.

GETTING DRAGGED INTO THE SHADOWHUNTERS WORLD ALA CLARY FRAY

I liked Harry Shum, Jr. on Glee and his appearances in the Step Up movies, so I was pretty stoked to see this new character he was playing. The basic thing I got watching the video is that Alec is not out of the closet because his family and his Shadowhunter society expect him to marry a woman and carry on the family name and not dally with Downworlders like Magnus.

I also learned, after reading some Wiki articles, that Downworlders are those with demon blood while Shadowhunters have angel blood. Apparently, the latter were taught to uphold some archaic, homophobic, and racist laws. Ergo, Alec is not ready to admit that he is gay and that he finds a Downworlder attractive. So, I figured that this Alec dude has a pretty legit character arc and I wanted to see Harry Shum Jr. being the High Warlock of Brooklyn and doing some magic. (I have a deadly weakness for urban fantasy and magic.)

Shadowhunters

I would love to see more of this.

 

I LIVE FOR THE MALEC SCENES (AND BASICALLY ANY SCENE WITH MAGNUS BANE)

Watching Season 1 to the latest episode of Season 2, I have seen Alec and Magnus’ relationship evolve (but it wasn’t without some bad stuff). Alec stopped his own wedding and kissed this warlock in front of some important Clave members. He came out of the closet, with some help from Magnus and prompting from his sister, Isabelle.

To be honest, it was the Malec scenes that I wanted to watch most because they had tension, they had ups and downs, and they weren’t boring (and Magnus Bane is a BAMF character on the show. Like, Episode 8 was dedicated to how badass this High Warlock is).

There is a glaring problem, though. In Episode 7, Magnus and Alec took their relationship to the next level. They had sex. Except viewers hadn’t been sure. Why? Because there was no confirmation about it in the episode. It was just referred to as having occurred when Magnus and Jace talked in Episode 8.

I had quite the issue with Episode 7’s pre-sex scene despite the fact that I also liked it. Let’s break it down, shall we?

THE CONSENT ISSUE IN SHADOWHUNTERS

Alec rushes into Magnus’ loft, asking, “Is Jace here?”

Magnus is confused, but he just says, “No, he left hours ago. Are you okay?”

Then Alec kisses him fiercely (and a million Malec fangirls died and went to heaven). Anyway, Magnus stops him, but Alec explains that he’s ready to sex up his boyfriend. Magnus is understandably more hesitant. He’s been around for centuries and he’s afraid that rushing things will just put a strain on their fledgling romance.

He then says, “Look, you’re not the only one who feels vulnerable.”

Shadowhunters

Look at that face. That face is saying, “This is gonna be huge for me.” AND YOU JUST BARGED IN AND SAID LET’S HAVE A SEXY TIME!

I LOVE THAT LINE. It is a line that says everything about how Magnus feels towards Alec. The dude is a bisexual (I read somewhere that he is described as such in the book and Harry Shum, Jr. calls Magnus that, too) and has had 17,000 lovers (not kidding about that). But he doesn’t treat this Malec thing as a fling. He’s serious about his feelings for Alec and he would be really heartbroken if their relationship crashed and burned.

But what does Alec say? He just goes, “Magnus, you don’t have to worry about anything. I want this.” (Or something like that). Anyway, that sentiment right there got me reacting, “WHAT ABOUT WHAT MAGNUS WANTS?” Other viewers have pointed out the lack of verbal consent from Magnus before Alec pushed him into the bedroom. After a heavy Twitter debate, the writers acknowledged that it could have been handled better when it came to consent.

Okay, so that’s one issue acknowledged. But what about the fact that, in the same episode, Jace was seen on his bed with a nude female fae creature? Like, the woman was just covering her boobs with an arm. Jace was only wearing black shorts. Now this was a fling, a one-night stand. But we couldn’t get something like this for Magnus and Alec’s first time? I’m somewhere in the asexual spectrum, so no, I don’t go looking for sex scenes and I certainly prefer sensual over sexual. But this is just so glaringly obvious. It’s not fair, especially for LGBT fans watching the show.

[Edit: Instead of showing Jace and the fae girl half-naked on the bed, the scene could have just shown Alec pounding on the door and ordering Jace to talk to him, then the clothed fae girl exiting Jace’s room a few seconds later and an irate Jace talking to a similarly irate Alec; like, no need to rub the heterosexual-couple-making-out-near-naked-is-very-normal-LGBTQ-couple-not-so-much in our faces.]

Shadowhunters

Look at this dude. He is powerful and badass and strong and generous. And it’s nice to see him in scenes where he is valued for his expertise, magic, and kindness and not just as a queer prop.

BETTER REPRESENTATION IS NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK YA KNOW

Non-white, non-binary, non-straight, and transgender people are real. Alive. Everywhere. I don’t even live in the West and it’s weird for me to see an American show that’s 90% straight, white, and cis (or even straight, white, cis, and male). I love urban fantasy and I loved that the Shadowhunters cast and crew did their best to adapt this world into TV from a bestselling book series. But it doesn’t mean that people should just take it without complaint. That those marginalized communities should just roll with it and be thankful for being included. That’s not progress. That’s not fairness. That’s not inclusion. That’s cis privilege and heteronormativity in action. And that has to stop.

I may sound like I’m just rambling, but this goes to all the other shows I love: Teen Wolf and Supernatural, among others. I love these shows, but it doesn’t mean I pretend to be deaf and blind to their problems. It means that I wish with all my heart that they will address such issues. I will not bash them if they don’t, but I won’t pretend that they’re perfect either. So I will continue to talk or write about the issues because if no one talks about them, then it will be easier to sweep them under the rug and pretend they don’t exist.

So what I’m saying is, if you can, go and tweet #MalecDeservesBetter. I honestly don’t want this show to end. I want to see the characters grow. I want to tell the actors that I want the show to continue. I don’t want them to feel that they’re doing a shitty job, but the truth is… I want to see urban fantasy with good representation. Is it really too much to ask?

https://twitter.com/ShadowhuntersTV/status/835635499200991232

[Edit: In all this bedroom talk, I just forgot to express that I still love the show and will continue to watch and support it because it does present a relatively healthy interracial and LGBTQ couple. It also has a very diverse cast in terms of ethnic background and female characters owning their sexuality and not being shamed for it? Girl friendships? Oh yeah, this show’s got those!]

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