‘The Magicians’: Syfy’s New Show Takes an ‘Adult Perspective’ on ‘Harry Potter’

The Magicians - Pilot
the magicians

This year, you’re invited to visit a decidedly different school of magic. But be warned: These witches definitely don’t need wands to hurt you—or themselves.

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Syfy’s The Magicians, based on Lev Grossman’s bestselling trilogy of books, introduces us to grad student Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) just as he’s enlisted into intensive training in the magical arts. And yes, a murderous dark force is out to get him, but no, it’s not He Who Shall Not Be Named. It’s someone possibly worse. “The similarities to Harry Potter are very purposeful in the books,” executive producer Sera Gamble says. “Lev wrote them partially because he’s a huge Harry Potter fan, and he wanted to explore that kind of fantasy world from an adult perspective. But there are no Dumbledores in this, and no clear destiny for any of the characters.”

That’s certainly true for Quentin’s close friend Julia (Stella Maeve), who dangerously learns magic on her own after being rejected from wizardry school. Her rough and gritty independent study will parallel Quentin’s classes at the ivory tower of Brakebills University, but the results may be dire. Notes executive producer John McNamara: “Magic doesn’t fix anything inherently here. If anything, magic can be an added complication.”

The Magicians, Premieres Monday, Jan. 25, 9/8c, Syfy