Hollywood Reporter, Variety and a bunch of other media news outlets just dropped the ball Monday that a new, live-action TV adaptation of the “Harry Potter” series is in early development between HBO Max and WarnerMedia. The majority of backlash received thus-far against the series has been centered around author J.K. Rowling and her incessant and unceasing profit off a 20 year old franchise, despite her being widely denounced for transphobic commentary just in the past year. Some fans of the series have expressed conflict over wanting new content, but not at the expense of benefiting Rowling. I would like to assure the fans currently in favor of the series, however, that we can be completely and utterly satisfied with the live action adaptation we already have.
Are the movies perfectly detailed realizations of the book series? Certainly not. They absolutely massacred my homegirl Ginny’s character and cut Peeves from the storyline altogether. “Deathly Hallows Part 2” just straight-up takes place in an alternate timeline from the book. But there are over 4000 pages of world-building, character growth and plot to include in only 19 hours and 40 minutes of screentime. The expectation was that things needed to be cut or else the movies would have lasted multiple days. Or seasons…
The main argument for having a TV-series to take a crack at adapting the books is that a show can do what movies can not: take their time. One book per season and one chapter per episode enables the translation from page to screen to be as accurate as possible. Without being forced to conform to the traditional one-and-a-half to two hour run-time, a TV-series could rectify the crimes of the original movie franchise and feed our starving souls with every dialogue exchange that got cut for time, every side character that was discarded due to irrelevancy.
And I can see the appeal, certainly. I have complaints with the original movie series. Also, visual effects have evolved. The ‘perfect’ adaptation seems achievable when the market for such a show is so ready to receive and the money is so attainable. Still, I would like to pose the idea to fans and media corporations alike that just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. “Harry Potter” garnered so much appeal within us as children because it was magical. My imagination could adapt the scenes I read more convincingly and in higher definition than any streaming service could ever. I carry my own visualizations of each character’s appearance, despite the actors’ faces that I have memorized from watching for so many years on screen. The beauty in an imperfect movie series is that it can coexist with the original book series without hijacking my interpretation of said original. Books can exist without screen adaptations; in fact, most do. We were already lucky enough to receive an adaptation that at its worst, still did pretty good. There’s no need to rely on someone else’s vision and the limitations of current CGI to provide every single detail of a work that our brain’s envisioned seamlessly at age nine.
And if you are not already complacent with the original seven books, eight movies, countless video games, a Broadway play, theme parks, fan podcasts and a Pottery Barn home decor line, I don’t trust that this HBO series will satisfy you either.