The Unicorn Scale: The Magicians

By Bernie Marchand

June 26, 2020


The Magicians (2015-2020) is a whimsical romp that plays on the heartstrings of all those Harry Potter fans who grew up, but aren't ready to let go of the magic.

The series follows Quentin (Jason Ralph), a social incompetent whose boyish good looks cannot make up for his major Peter Pan syndrome. Quentin and his best friend Julia (Stella Maeve) are superfans of a book series reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia called Fillory and Further. While Quentin never wants to grow up and spends his days dreaming of the magical land of Fillory, Julia is prepared to put aside childish things and step into the next phase of her life with confidence. As the series progresses, Quentin is the one who gets what he wishes. We learn that magic is real, and if you show enough promise, you matriculate into Brakebills and train to become a magician.

Brakebills is a magical graduate school. The warm fuzzies are limited here at Brakebills Academy, especially when compared to other popular magical schools we've read about, and the great ensemble cast grows up fast. In The Magicians we see a group of twenty somethings come together through incredible hardship and discover their own inner strength. Is there anything more queer? If the bisexual Quentin, our nerdy protagonist, doesn’t give you the queer hook you crave, then the take home message of chosen family certainly will. Warning— spoilers ahead!

What I Liked:

The central characters include the bold Margo (Summer Bishil) and stylish Eliot (Hale Appleman) who are best friends with some definite romantic/sexual tension, and are Quentin’s housemates, for lack of a better descriptor. In addition to Julia, Quentin’s former best friend, there is they shy and nerdy Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and a host of other magicians, rogue magicians, magical creatures, and gods. The group goes through their magical education and a whole slew of magical adventures while also dealing with all the normal drama that accompanies a show starring a gaggle of attractive twenty-somethings.  Without delivering too many spoilers, I will attempt to discuss some of the more bi moments of The Magicians

We start the series rooting for a relationship of the two most socially awkward people, Quentin and Alice. It does eventually happen and the two begin a rather tumultuous relationship. Their relationship ends when Quentin, upset and inebriated, has a threesome with his two roommates, Margo and Eliot, giving us a sexy, sexy bisexual threesome with a truly epic Quentin sandwich scene.

And this is where Magicians fans are divided. There is something sweet about Alice and Quentin, and you kind of root for them to get back together and work it out. On the other hand, as the show progresses, we see a hopeful future for Eliot and Quentin. It takes a while for the Eliot and Quentin relationship to grow. At first there are some slight glimmers, but it isn't clear what will develop.

It isn't until three seasons later that these two finally come together in an episode involving a time spell that allows them to live a full life in an alternate timeline while barely aging in their current world. They live together, raise a child, and develop a profound love for one another. Although it all happens over the course of a single episode, the effects of their lifetime together is carried throughout the season. This couple is definitely a fan favorite, and soon this is the ship we are all sailing. 

Their relationship is confirmed when we find out that after their time together, Quentin proposed that he and Eliot try to have a romantic relationship in their current timeline. Eliot rejects him, but it turns out that rejecting Quentin's love is also Eliot's greatest regret.

Quentin and Eliot’s relationship isn’t the only queer one featured in The Magicians. Season five also introduces us to Marina’s girlfriend, Anna. While neither of these characters are central to the main plot, it’s refreshing to see two more fully fleshed out, queer characters. Additionally, throughout the show Eliot has several relationships with both men and women. As Eliot travels to Fillory, a magical land similar to Narnia, he becomes king, marries a woman and proposes to a man in an epic polyamorous storyline. In fact, Fillory is a pretty groovy, far out place where many relationship styles are accepted, #goals.

What I Don’t Like:

All of my complaints regarding Magicians do not lie with its bisexual representation. Sexuality is truly represented as a spectrum on this show. The problems with the show lie in its writing. The Magicians falls into the same trap many shows do— too many things happen in one episode. Of course, the first season has a great build in the story arc. We are given time to connect with the characters, we see their development, and we have enough time with the central plot. However, in each subsequent season, multiple, complicated storylines may happen in one episode! The result is a little messy and we miss connecting with some of the bigger plot points— like Eliot and Quentin’s life together, because it happens within the span of one busy episode. It would have felt more meaningful to see this storyline develop over a few episodes. 

The Rating:

The Magicians is a sci-fi/fantasy drama that features some stylistic surprises. One second, we are crying over the death of a favorite character, the next we are watching an insane musical rendition of Queen’s “Under Pressure”. The Magicians really has no rules and I love it for that, especially because it so well represents its queer characters. In The Magicians we see multiple bi relationships, and a lot of development for the queer characters throughout the show. This is why The Magicians gets 4/4 unicorns!

4 unicorns


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