HomeTelevisionCouch Potato – Expelliarmus the Thought of a Harry Potter TV Series

Couch Potato – Expelliarmus the Thought of a Harry Potter TV Series

Few properties over the last thirty years are as deserving of the title of “global phenomenon” as the Harry Potter series and the Wizarding World media franchise are. Harry Potter, created by author J. K. Rowling, is arguably the biggest pop culture sensation of its time, and the books and films that comprise the series have fully integrated themselves into the cultural zeitgeist of the 21st century. Three of the movies rank within the top fifty highest-grossing movies of all time, with the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 sitting the highest as number thirteen. Adding all seven books together, around 500 million copies of the novels have been sold worldwide, which makes the books the bestselling series of all time. 

Given such popularity, it should come as no surprise that Warner Bros. is reportedly in the early stages of developing a live-action Harry Potter television series for HBO Max. Though Warner Bros. and HBO Max have denied this rumor, the move would be a no-brainer considering that Harry Potter is still one of the crown jewels in the Warner Bros. media empire. A television series based on the franchise could instantly cause interest in HBO Max to skyrocket, much as the streaming service’s viewership exploded with the release of Wonder Woman 1984. For generations of fans, a live-action Harry Potter show could be must-watch television.

And yet, even as an ardent fan of the franchise, I believe that a television series within the Wizarding World is doomed to fail and become a lightning rod of controversy. As beloved as the original seven books and eight movies are, the quality of the franchise’s recent installments suggests some of the magic has been lost. The Fantastic Beasts series spinoff of Harry Potter has been disappointing at best. While I gave the first Fantastic Beasts film a favorable review when it was first released, I have cooled on the movie in subsequent years. Meanwhile, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is an unwatchable mess and sits at a disastrous 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it easily the lowest-rated film in the Wizard World franchise. 

The play that acts as a sequel to the book series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, has also been met with mixed reactions. While critics largely responded well to the stage production, many fans of the series were much more critical of the play. I must admit that I believe the script reads like fan fiction in a negative way and feels terribly pasted together. Many fans (myself included) argue that the play fails to capture the characters’ essences from the books and utilizes plot contrivances that contradict the rules and relationships established in the novels. Alongside the disappointment of the Fantastic Beasts series, the failures of The Cursed Child suggest that the franchise is running on fumes.

But perhaps the greatest reason a Harry Potter television series should be avoided is that J. K. Rowling has (even among fans) become a poisonous figure. While the books and films denounce fascism and prejudice and promote feminist ideals, Rowling’s anti-trans views have rightfully earned her the title of TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). Rowling’s transphobic beliefs have garnered intense backlash and turned the celebrated author into a target of boycotting from fans, distancing from creative partners, and general condemnation from the public. Given how toxic Rowling’s reputation has become, a Harry Potter television series would instantly come under scrutiny and become subject to backlash, even if Rowling does not play a major role in writing or producing such a show. If enough of the fandom rejected the series because of Rowling’s views, the show may never even get off the ground. 

As beloved as the books and films remain, the lackluster quality of the franchise post-Deathly Hallows and the controversy surrounding Rowling do not bode well for the success of future Harry Potter projects. News of a television show will continue to gain buzz and attention, but recent events suggest the show would only further disenchant fans. While the franchise will likely continue to produce new content into the future, don’t expect the same spell to be cast on fans again.

Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Voltron: Legendary Defender, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, also writes for the website, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.

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