Netflix’s The Order is all about secret societies, magic, and werewolves — and it has that same kind of weird, intriguing energy as Syfy’s The Magicians.
Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote an article titled, “Keep television weird,” all about how The Magicians and Legion benefited from being a little awkward.
In the article, I talk about how both shows aren’t concerned with being put inside a specific box. They’re a little different, a little strange. They’re both super clever, well-executed shows, but even more than that, they give us real, relatable, and strange characters to fall in love with.
Netflix’s The Order does the same thing.
It’s definitely not a one-to-one comparison to The Magicians, which is undoubtedly one of my favorite shows on television at the moment. The Magicians benefits from an ever-expanding universe and four seasons of excellence.
But The Order has the potential to get there. At first, you’re led to believe this is solely about one kid’s mission to get into a secret society of magicians in order to avenge his mother’s death. Fairly quickly, however, you find out there’s another secret society — but this one is full of werewolves.
It sounds like it could be borderline terrible, but there’s something about it that keeps you invested. It has that same spark that The Magicians has — it’s crazy, it’s hilarious, it’s poignant, and it’s just plain weird.
Jack is the Quentin of The Order. He’s average. Floppy-haired. Kind of hopeless. And you like him because it’s easy to step into his shoes. He’s not the best at what he does, he makes a lot of mistakes, and he has no idea what he’s getting himself into most of the time. And you just can’t help but root for him.
Alyssa is our Alice. She’s the brilliant one. The one that’s miles ahead of everyone else. But she’s got a good heart, and that means she doesn’t always put The Order first like she should.
Lilith and Kady were definitely cut from the same cloth. Lillith is always angry and always ready for a fight. She won’t let anyone tell her what to do and she’s definitely got a chip on her shoulder. Ultimately, however, she’s a good person, and wants to do the right thing.
Hamish and Eliot are not a perfect match, but I can see the similarities between them. Both have a wise, experienced air about them. But if Eliot had one piece of advice for Hamish, it would be to loosen up a little bit. Hamish might be a stick in the mud, but he’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty.
There might be no comparison for Randall, unfortunately. He’s the life of the party, the one who’s a little reckless but you kind of love him for it. He keeps a pretty positive attitude, but he’s also not afraid to jump into the fray when he’s needed. A lot of the comic relief comes from him.
Gabrielle has Margo’s mean girl swagger down, but with a lot less heart. Brandon, on the other hand, reminds me a bit of Josh. He’s a follower, not a leader.
Where The Magicians uses hand movements for much of their magic, The Order employs a bit more incantation reading and potion making. And while The Magicians has all of Fillory to explore, The Order is firmly rooted on Belgrave University’s campus.
From there, the two shows certainly take very different paths. The Magicians feels grander because of the depth of their lore, but there’s still so much we have yet to learn about The Order and how magic and monsters exist in a world that looks so much like our own.
The Order is topical and relevant. There are a lot of jokes aimed directly at Millennials and people who spend much of their time on the internet. I’m definitely their target audience, so I found a lot to love in these first 10 episodes of the show.
The series also takes a couple of surprising left turns. Yes, it can be a little predictable (of course Jack was going to develop an immediate crush on Alyssa), but not everything in the show ends up where you expected it to. I liked that it felt comfortable and unexpected in equal turns.
As much as this show is about the students, there are a few adult characters who are just as interesting. Edward Coventry and Vera Stone are powerful, sexy, enigmatic, and dangerous. They’re also just as complex as the kids and have a purpose outside of being there for the show’s main stars.
It’s refreshing to see adult characters who aren’t stupid and whose only job is to cause conflict for our heroes.
I know the masks and the trailer made the show look like it was closer in genre to horror than fantasy, but aside from a couple of scary moments, The Order is pretty tame. There’s also some gore, but I’ve seen Netflix do much, much worse in that department.
All in all, The Order is funny, entertaining, and intriguing. The story moves along at a pretty good clip, and there’s always something happening to keep you invested in the myriad of characters you see on screen. This might not be the next Magicians, but it certainly deserve to stand in its shadow.