Harry Potter is coming back. HBO Max has announced they will be turning JK Rowling’s astonishingly successful book series into a prestigious Game of Thrones-style, decade-long TV extravaganza, creating “authentic” adaptations of the seven Potter books. To some this feels absurd – the last cycle of Potter movies seems like it only happened five minutes ago, though it’s worth remembering that if you’re 12 years old right now Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is an old movie that came out 10 years before you were born. Maybe it is time?
Like it or not – and there are some very vocal people who definitely don’t like it – it’s happening.
Given that, maybe we should see this as an opportunity? The previous round of Potter movies, gigantically successful as they were, mangled the source material in several ways. And, let’s face it, the source material itself wasn’t without its problems. Here’s eight ways the new Harry Potter TV show can actually improve the franchise.
Fix the diversity issues
This is the hippogriff in the room, so let’s get it out the way first. There’s a very vocal faction of people who are extremely mad at JK Rowling. The message of the books is of acceptance, but there’s a lot that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. None of the main characters are people of colour and the only queer representation happens off screen. “Dumbledore is gay!” declared JK Rowling, after publication of the final book… which was a surprise as there’s zero mention of this on the page, despite it making the background of the final book far more interesting. All of this needs to be brought to the front.
In the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage show a Black actor always plays Hermione – we’re going to need to see more of that sort of thing in the new version. The show is also going to need to extend a substantial olive branch to the trans community, given Rowling’s much-publicised views on that issue, though you suspect for some people that’s a relationship that will never be repaired. It’s a factor that’s always going to cloud anything Potter-related.