DISCLAIMER: Spoilers abound for Syfy’s The Magicians. Proceed with caution.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re still enmeshed in a period of mourning for our favorite show about magic. The series finale aired on April 1st, and I’m utterly devastated that we won’t see a Season 6. Overall, I was satisfied with how it all ended. Everyone received a much-needed happy ending, after years of wading in misery. For a fantasy series, The Magicians was more grounded in reality than most non-fantasy shows.
While the curtain closed on Fillory, the lessons I learned from The Magicians will remain permanently rooted in my soul. More specifically, the several female characters on the show struck a chord with me. I added a slew of life lessons to my arsenal, and fuel for self-empowerment. These women were complicated, realistic, and messy. They were also bastions of strength and pillars of inner growth. Despite the unending odds, despite the incessant turmoil, they rose above it all. The women of The Magicians resonated on a profound level with me, as I know they did with countless others.
Below, I wanted to pay homage to each of these women and reveal the crucial lessons I gleaned from my time watching The Magicians. I hope you find inspiration from them. I know I did.
Now, Julia (Stella Maeve) was one of the main characters in Lev Grossman‘s book trilogy. So, it was only natural that she take on a leadership role in the TV adaptation. Julia ran the gamut on personal trauma and then some – she was raped by a trickster god, for starters. She lost her Shade, then her Shade was reinstated. After that, she was elevated to deity status. Then, she was relegated to lowly humanity. She lost her best friend Quentin. Eventually, she found a happy ending with Penny and gave birth to a healthy magical hybrid baby. But, it took a heaping helping of blood, sweat and tears to claim said happy ending.
So, what did I learn from Julia? Never, ever give up. Forge ahead regardless of the odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Kindness goes a long way. You reap what you sow. That fighting for your loved ones is a worthy fight. Make your aspirations a reality. But, in the end, the greatest of these lessons is to keep going. Believe you’ll succeed – because you will. It’s a marathon, Fillorians. Not a sprint. If Julia can do it, so can you.
Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) was quite the contested character on The Magicians. She made her fair share of mistakes, and jeopardized a lot of lives along the way. Alice was the epitome of imperfection – a walking personification of it, in fact. She was not well-liked. However, I could relate to her in more ways than one. I’m also shy and introverted. Socially awkward. Quite the weirdo. But, if you peel back Alice’s convoluted layers, you’ll find a soul that’s just trying to survive. Trying to make the best decisions that sometimes don’t pan out as intended. As humans, that’s really all we can do. So much is out of our control.
Here’s what I learned from Alice: acceptance. Come to terms with who you are. Love yourself fully, uninhibited, and embrace every inner quirk. Cling to your perceived flaws – recognize them for what they are and accept them. Do the very best you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you fail. As Zelda told Alice in the series finale, a magician may not be able to control Outer Circumstances when spell casting, but they can control their Inner Circumstances. Now, how does that translate to real-world terms? Accept themselves wholly. Bodily. Love yourself – because you’re the only you you’ve got.
Now, Margo (Summer Bishil) is my favorite character on The Magicians. Hands down. Her journey was downright inspiring. She navigated troubled waters like the High King she was. Margo’s assertiveness was often misconstrued as bossiness or arrogance. But, Margo ruled an entire realm. Millions of beings’ lives were in her hands. Not only that, but she embarked on a solo quest through a desert, released a horde of female spirits on a slew of misogynistic men, and claimed a pair of bad*ss ice axes. She rose above the odds and then some. In the series finale, she was prepared to lay down her life to save an entire realm. She destroyed Fillory with every intention of going down with it. Now, we know Margo is in charge of a new world, wherein she must create infrastructure and help foster a nurturing environment for displaced Fillorians.
The biggest lesson I gleaned from Margo? That being a woman is complicated. Always do the right thing, even if it’s the unpopular thing. Embrace your inner fierce warrior. Don’t shy away from putting the patriarchy in its place. Remember that we can be soft and strong – we don’t have to favor one state over the other. We’re a mess of different quirks, and it’s okay to be loud. It’s okay to be assertive, despite society’s perception of assertiveness as b*tchiness. Stand strong in your convictions. Fight tooth and nail for what you want.
Kady (Jade Tailor) has been through the ringer and then some. She grew up in a rough neighborhood. Was essentially Marina’s servant for quite some time. Lost her mother. Lost her boyfriend Penny (40, not 23). Struggled with substance abuse. Spent some time in a mental health facility, and grappled with suicidal ideation. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that Kady was dealt the worst hand in the bunch. However, in the end, she still remained. Kady turned all those negatives into positives. She blossomed into the leader of the hedge witches, and freed them from the Library’s grasp. Not to mention, she’s a strong battle magician, and has kicked her fair share of arse.
Kady life lessons time! She taught me what strength looks like. That yes, you won’t always “appear” strong. You may have more bad days than good. There will be struggles, and you may want to quit. However, if you stick it out, you’ll rise victorious. You will see the other side, and it’ll be awash with the brightest light. Never give up. Stand tall for those who cannot. Shout at the top of your lungs for those whose voices have been silenced.
Our favorite native Fillorian Fen (Brittany Curran) started on The Magicians as, more or less, comedic relief. She was the awkward girl from another realm who wasn’t accustomed to Earth traditions or modern culture. However, Fen proved to have more depth than that. In fact, she was a wellspring of emotions, thoughts, personality traits and dreams. She was married off to a stranger. Fen also gave birth to a child that didn’t survive the birthing process. So, that came with Post-Partum Depression and PTSD. Eventually, she became Acting High King of Fillory in Margo’s stead. Fen was also murdered alongside Josh courtesy of the Dark King, but that was in another timeline and was ultimately prevented in the show’s current timeline.
So, what did I learn from Fen? Firstly, cling hard to your childlike wonderment. Fen had the eagerness of a kid, and a genuine fascination with the world around her. Be kind. Genuine empathy and love goes a long way. Love others without inhibitions. Remember that sensitivity is not a weakness. Never shy away from showing your emotions. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is a good thing. Just because you’re an adult, that doesn’t mean you lose all creativity or a desire to play.
Yes, even Marina (Kacey Rohl) had her positive attributes. While she was often the show’s antagonist, Marina has, on occasion, joined the side of the good guys. She even had her “negative qualities” wiped clean after her Harmonic Convergence heist went terribly awry, resulting in multiple deaths. This is indicative of remorse. Deep down, like everyone else, Marina is simply striving for survival. Making decisions that don’t always pan out as intended. Despite Marina’s many faux pas, she at least shows some measure of guilt. And self-awareness, although I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing in her case.
Here’s what I learned from Marina: sometimes you have to do what’s best for you. Now, that doesn’t mean f*cking up everyone else around you, but occasionally you have to look out for No. 1. Keep your best interests in mind. Realize that you’re imperfect and rife with flaws, but that doesn’t necessarily make you evil. We’re all of us imperfect. Don’t be afraid to take charge. Stand up to opposition. Go the distance to obtain what you want – but perhaps don’t go her specific route. If anything, Marina was at times the poster child for what not to do. If she royally screws up or does something remotely evil, do the opposite. But, in all honesty, I still have a soft spot for my sass factory, questionable morals aside.
Zelda (Mageina Tovah) was a proficient, immensely advanced magician who advocated for knowledge. She bravely sacrificed herself to save Alice and Fen in the series finale. Thankfully, she’ll continue to be a Librarian in the Underworld. Zelda worked tirelessly at the Library, and wholeheartedly believed that knowledge was power. Books are treasure troves of wisdom. Zelda often butted heads with her daughter Harriet, but in the end the two mended fences. Zelda harbored a love for people, and a soft spot for their plights.
So, what did I learn from Zelda? Knowledge, as cliche as this sounds, truly is power. We live in an age of instant information, and there’s a lot of “fake news” roaming the online world. That’s why it’s so vital to arm yourself with the truth. Feed your arsenal with accurate knowledge. Books are wonderful tools for more than just pure escapism. Especially now, in this time of crisis, we must rely on books as our tether to sanity. Zelda also taught me that empathy is crucial. Love is complicated, as are relationships. Do what you can to save those you love. Be brave. And, above all, be kind.
What life lessons have you attained from the fierce women of The Magicians? Sounds off in the comments below!
Seasons 1-4 of The Magicians are now streaming on Netflix.
This was originally published on 4/3/20
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