Do we need a Harry Potter reboot?
Dear readers, it was a rhetorical question. The only answer is no. Blame me for the misleading title but do not blame me for having correct opinions. Bloomberg recently published the news that HBO is "close to a deal" for a Harry Potter TV series that nobody asked for. They are planning to adapt the books into seven seasons, one season for each book.
Zero points for guessing how fans of Harry Potter, aka "potterheads", reacted to this news. Sufficient to say they did not take this news well, giving their reasons why the reboot is unnecessary. Many fans think the series, if it comes to see the day of light, is not going to work without the initial cast. As fans of any particular movie or tv show, some of us tend to be biased towards a certain adaptation, especially if we grew up watching it.
Famous literary works in particular Little Women (Robert Brothers, 1868) and Pride and Prejudice (T. Egerton, Whitehall, 1813) had been adapted to movies or series multiple times and each time an adaptation had added a new perspective. I have seen fans of Little Women say how Katherine Hepburn is the best onscreen Jo, or argue which Pride and Prejudice adaptation is the best one, and vice versa. Even the recent West Side Story (2021) adaptation pocketed undeniable applause simply because it was an adaptation done right with young actors breathing fresh, new voices into the same story and narratives. But can the same be said for the fans of Harry Potter?
Needless to say that people who grew up with the cast have emotional attachments with them and are reluctant to see anyone else depicting their favorite characters, noticeably judging from their initial reactions online. But maybe the bigger question here should be whether Harry Potter as a literary work even deserves to have another adaptation. For example, how will the show creators justify mocking Hermione saying slavery should be abolished in today's climate?
Reboot fatigue is a valid concern in the current scenario but it is not the only objection to this reported remake. Given the recent controversies of the author, it seems like an intentional blow to the trans community. J K Rowling has made no attempt to hide her anti-trans views and due to this, her reputation has taken a consequential hit.
In the past couple of years, boycotts on her books have been attempted and recently her profits have seen an enormous drop. It was reported that she will be involved to "ensure the series remains loyal to her original material" but will not be overseeing everything. But again, her Harry Potter series has been accused of antisemitism and racism. With this remake, it can be revamped with more diversity. So this remains a valid concern for everyone that whether a person spewing hate speech towards a marginalised community should be given such a big platform.
At the risk of judging this series too early, such a decision seems like an easy cash-grab trading on nostalgia to sell. Lately, a horde of old shows and movies are being rebooted, the very recent example being The Lord Of The Rings. In most of the cases, audiences have professed their aversion to reboots. Gossip Girl met the fate of cancellation only after airing two seasons because audiences preferred the original series to the new one.
The most salient criticism of rebooted shows and movies has been the lack of original stories. In regards to the Harry Potter universe, many fans have expressed their interest to see the story of the Marauders or a prequel about the Hogwarts founders. The majority of the Harry Potter fandom seems to agree that the movies should remain untouched.
As for me, I would rather say a final goodbye to the world of Harry Potter, come out of my nostalgia-trance state, and embrace new stories. There are countless diverse and unique stories waiting to be told and adapted into screens. It's now time for the big studios to realise that.
Nawshin Flora is currently daydreaming about catching up to her never ending TBR list. Remind her to get enough sleep at [email protected].