You may have heard about the new SyFy show The Magicians, and if so, then you’ve probably heard it being called “Harry Potter for adults.” In light of these comparisons, I’ve drawn up a list of similarities to show why this is an alarmingly accurate description.
Being compared to other shows/books/works of art is inevitable when you create a new series, and while I think The Magicians absolutely stands on its own, it was always bound to be described as something similar to Harry Potter. It’s about a school where people learn magic. Enough said.
But the show is about more than just a school for magic, and it actually does share a lot of similarities with the Harry Potter series. A lot of you may automatically think that being compared so something as popular as Harry Potter would be a bad thing, but it’s actually pretty brilliant. The Magicians lulls you in with this familiar concept and similar stories, but once you’ve entered the world, you realize just how unique the show and its characters truly are. While these similarities stand out, it’s really the epic uniqueness of author Lev Grossman’s tale that will get you to stay.
Here’s just a few ways that the show is similar to Harry Potter:
Harry Potter has houses; ‘The Magicians’ has specialties
Just about everyone in the world knows about the four Hogwarts Houses. We know that when you get to Hogwarts you have to get sorted into your house the first day of school, and that your assigned house is a life-long connection you will always have. The reasons why you’re sorted into a particular house can vary from person to person, but it’s mostly based on personality and how you hold yourself.
There’s a similar thing going on at Brakebills College, which is The Magicians‘ own version of Hogwarts. However, instead of being sorted immediately upon enrollment, students are given a decent amount of time to figure out where their talents lay, and instead of being personality-driven, the disciplines are talent-related.
Each magical student is naturally gifted toward a specific discipline, and as they grow and learn about their abilities, their discipline becomes clearer. Eventually every student at Brakebills must take an exam that will help them determine exactly what their discipline is, much like how every student at Hogwarts must sit under the Sorting Hat.
The disciplines are as follows: physical, natural, illusion, knowledge, healing, psychic, and the most rare of all, traveling.
The cool thing about The Magicians is how different people who study under the same discipline can be. With the physical discipline, for example, you have Eliot, someone who knows how to throw a fantastic party. He’s witty, sarcastic and also a fantastic thrower of shade. In the same discipline is a completely different person, Quentin. He’s definitely a less vibrant, quieter student who likes to read and keep to himself. The two are different characters with different paths, but their disciplines are similar, so they reside in the same house.
Granted, Quentin is also a bit of an enigma, as his talents during his test weren’t ever made clear, so he was placed in the physical magic discipline for now. This is less Harry Potter and more Divergent, since he seems to be the Tris of The Magicians — not really fitting in any one place.
Harry Potter has Quidditch; ‘The Magicians’ has Welters
One aspect of the Harry Potter series universally beloved by fans is the sport J.K. Rowling invented, Quidditch. There are specific rules, parts and equipment for Quidditch as there is with any sport, and the same goes for Welters.
Welters is set up like a chess board, except it’s a little longer than it is wide. Each block is representative of a different element — not simply earth, wind, fire, and water, but rather water, sand, stone and glass. Players throw a ball-like rock onto the board to select a block, and when they land on it, they must create a spell based on the element they land on.
Just like how each Hogwarts house has a Quidditch team, each discipline has a Welters team — and yes, there are international tournaments too.
Harry Potter has Draco Malfoy; ‘The Magicians’ has Penny Adiyodi
While the two characters aren’t exactly the same, I find that they’re similar enough to warrant a comparison so Potter fans can get an idea of who Penny is. Penny, like Draco, is in a different house than the main character and doesn’t immediately get along with him.
In The Magicians, Penny and Quentin meet because they’re roommates before they get sorted into their respective disciplines. Penny is much like Draco in that it seems like he’s a villain and totally against our protagonist, but in reality their upbringings and personal life experiences just make it difficult for them to understand each other.
In Harry Potter, Draco’s dislike for Harry is adamantly clear and fueled by family ties and Draco’s need to please his father, but Penny isn’t like that. He doesn’t inherently hate Quentin, but they definitely don’t mix well together. Like Draco, Penny is a good guy at heart — it just takes a little more effort for him to show it.
Harry Potter has Squibs; ‘The Magicians’ has Hedge Witches
In the world of Harry Potter there are those who know about magic and cannot practice it, despite being born from a line of witches and wizards. They’ve been cast aside while they know about the magical community, but generally speaking they’re not a part of it.
With The Magicians, there’s a similar concept. Hedge Witches are those who have been cast aside from Brakebills because they didn’t show enough potential during their entrance exam. Despite Brakebills always wiping the memory of those who do not pass, there are a select few who learn how to remember their past and figure out that magic is real, and they learn how to focus their energy to do spells.
Generally speaking, Hedge Witches are far less powerful than those who learn and practice magic normally. The spells they learn are stolen, and because they don’t receive the proper training, oftentimes they find they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Although some Hedge Witches can be quite powerful, they are still not accepted by the general magical community.