This week for the first time Shadowhunters may have very well let me down when it comes to my favorite couple and my desperately needed representation.
Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood aka Malec, it’s no secret, are the fan favorite couple of the series. As a bisexual woman it’s been refreshing to watch a bisexual character treated with such care and in a loving healthy relationship with a gay character. These two have become my light in a dark hole of poor representation for the LGBT community on television.
And up until this week’s episode they were the most consistently well written and shown thing about the series. In an episode that very well could have marked a huge step in their relationship, they were sidelined more than they have ever been before.
Admittedly, we don’t know for certain if Alec and Magnus consummated their relationship this week, but this isn’t just about that.
In an episode where they very well could have had sex, Alec for the first time ever and Magnus for the first time in a very long time with someone he has intense feelings for, we saw more intimacy between Jace and a random Seelie girl (and a few more random girls at the bar).
This is about the promo’s having more Malec in them than the episode did, about a showrunner calling this episode part of “Malec Mania” only to have what amounted to less than five minutes of screen time. This is about them absolutely dropping the ball one week after an episode that featured Malec heavily and perfectly written.
This is about an episode that possibly had this huge important development for Magnus and Alec’s relationship and they prioritized Jace and some random girl over it. This is about the show putting a random straight hookup onscreen longer than the only currently canon couple of the series who are not only LGBT but also interracial.
From the start of the episode there was a prioritization, even having what could have been another kiss (this time entirely initiated by Magnus) after a soft and lovely moment between the two interrupted by the heterosexual hookup. Then there was the abrupt cut to of them making out on the balcony, we know there’s more to this scene and it was filmed but instead it was nowhere to be found. A scene that’s small piece felt so natural, relaxed and comfortable could have been even longer with more of that important casual intimacy. As much as some of the Simon and Jace interaction was enjoyable, it could have been cut down and Magnus and Alec’s important development shown instead.
The final scene between them was so glaringly cut; I mean we even heard more of the dialogue from that scene in the promo they released last week.
So here you have them start to talk about having sex and trusting each other with taking their relationship to the next level because they care about each other and want it, only to end up dismissing them with a fade to black. Not only dismissing the possibility of an intimate scene between them, but also not bothering to show the rest of that conversation. Not bothering to show both sides clearly consenting. Not bothering to show how big of a deal this is for the both of them.
This isn’t HBO, I’m not saying we needed some explicit sex scene; MLM couples are already fetishized enough. But if these two men who are falling in love did have sex for the first time you needed to show the soft intimacy of the start of that, not just them kissing and backing into another room.
Here’s the thing too, if they didn’t have sex we were still robbed of scenes earlier in the episode and a scene that shows them deciding not to have sex. These are two men openly falling in love and up until now we’ve seen each of these big conversations and instead this time they decided to pull the ‘it happened off-screen’ ploy which is completely unfair to LGBT viewers.
Intimacy between two people who are LGBT is not a thing to be cliff hangered, brushed aside, cut down or faded to black. It’s something that needs to be seen, equally if not more than heterosexual intimacy. It’s good, real, natural and okay and that needs to be shown on screen.
The next episode could clear some things up, but that doesn’t change what went completely wrong with this episode. If they did have sex, a morning after scene with a conversation about no regrets is something we need to see. If they didn’t have sex we should see it pick up directly where they left off and show them making the decision to slow it down, not find out about it through a conversation between Magnus and Jace.
And with all of this though here’s the thing to keep in mind: the last scene between Magnus and Alec was poorly cut and dismissed. Editors and producers are to blame for this, not the characters. Magnus and Alec are a healthy and mature couple taking an important step in their relationship, but the producers didn’t care enough to show it and them. Magnus and Alec are still in a loving, mature, healthy adult relationship that care deeply about each other and deserve far better onscreen treatment.
Magnus deserved the more lines we know he had in that scene and words that were said after they crossed that doorway, if they did have sex, it was him saying okay yes let’s do this. Alec has always listened to and respected Magnus. These things are still true, because had that scene been properly edited, framed and written we’d have seen the consenting, the continuing of the conversation and the intimacy. These are still two men who care deeply for each other, who want what’s best for the other always, but the shows behind the scenes team decided that wasn’t important enough to be seen. It is the show’s producers and editing team that didn’t care to show that and decided we should be left to infer that instead. It’s their faults, not these characters.
And it’s sure as hell not Matthew Daddario and Harry Shum Jr.’s faults who have shown how much they care time and time again. They’re actors doing a job and they don’t have control over what gets cut and made.
And no don’t try to say that maybe it’s because we have two straight actors in these roles. Not only are they paid to do a job and have to do it, but that’s also disrespectful to these two men who have shown to be all in when it comes to the relationship their characters have. They haven’t shied away from any touch, any kiss or any moment; and I have pretty strong faith in Matt and Harry’s willingness to do anything to properly portray this relationship. Hell, they were both implying about scenes that were cut on Twitter before it aired, so they clearly were unaware of the cuts as well. They have all this incredible onscreen chemistry ripe for the taking and the show decided to completely ignore that and cut it to the bare bones this week.
This show shouldn’t have to end up like the books, where fans were left desperately seeking out good fan fiction that filled in the important and glaringly obvious missing moments shared between Magnus and Alec. Show their love and every big step of it onscreen.
They can’t fix what they denied us and the characters this week, not even if they release every bit of deleted scenes. But they can actively make the choice to be better and do better for LGBT fans, of which there are many, and for these two amazing characters in the way they had been doing for the first six episodes of the season.
*UPDATE: Alright, I thought I’d just revisit this now that they’ve genuinely made it right. 2×18 delivered Malec intimacy in a way I wasn’t certain we’d ever get. This doesn’t make the mess up of 2×07 okay, but it does show that the people behind this show care. I’ve watched a lot of TV shows over my 24 years of life, I’ve seen a lot of shows go downhill because they ignored the fans feelings and thoughts, and I’m pleased to see that ‘Shadowhunters’ doesn’t look like it’s going to be one of those shows. Season 2b as a whole, not just in terms of Malec intimacy, has shown that they’ve listened to the fans and they’ve learned to be careful about their hyping of content.