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My thoughts on the new Percy Jackson and the Olympians show

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Spoilers ahead for the Percy Jackson series, both the book and show. 

 

After a nearly two-year wait, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians TV show is streaming on Disney+. Episodes 1-6 have been released at the time this is being written, with only two more to go before the first season comes to an end. Based on the bestselling middle-grade book series of the same name by Rick Riordan, the Percy Jackson show was highly anticipated by readers and non-readers alike. Rick Riordan is best known for his multiple-book series based on elements of Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian mythology, dubbed the “Riordanverse” by fans.

 

As a longtime reader of these books, I’ve been keeping up with the show since production and casting began, eager to see what it would bring to the table. After two movies were released in the early 2010s with terrible reception due to their deviation from the books and bad quality, fans were excited to finally see a true-to-book adaptation of the much-loved series, especially because Riordan himself played a major role in the production of the show. 

 

The current season is based on the first book in the original series, The Lightning Thief, in which the main character, Percy, discovers his identity as a child of the Greek god Poseidon. He finds himself at Camp Half-Blood, a hidden safe place where demigods like him live and train to battle monsters and gods that try to hunt them down. Soon after, he is sent on a quest across the US with his friends Grover, a satyr, and Annabeth, another demigod, to retrieve Zeus’ master bolt and prevent war between the gods.  

 

In my opinion, the casting for the show has been absolutely perfect. Despite the actors not 100 percent matching the original description from the books, they have all given amazing performances so far. The lead cast includes Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson, Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase, and Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood. The casting is also age-accurate, meaning that all of the main demigod cast range from around 14-19 years old. Their skill shines through in their work, and I think that they will all go on to do even bigger projects when the show ends. 

 

The show closely follows the original plot, although some changes were made to individual moments and scenes from the book. Many die-hard book fans have complained about these changes, but I have found very little issue with them. Most changes have served to increase detail in the show. However, some are just a little disappointing. 

 

For the most part, the changes made have set the stage for deeper characterization and plotlines in the later seasons. For example, removing certain smaller scenes from the demigod’s journey in episode three, “We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium,” gave the writers valuable time to focus on Medusa’s story, something mostly brushed over in the book. Expanding on the cruel nature of the Olympians and giving Medusa more lore helped propel Percy’s characterization, building toward the resentful mentality he has in the later books. Some changes to the plot were made solely because of technical issues. In the books, Percy and Annabeth’s ride through the Tunnel of Love is interrupted by mechanical spiders and a live broadcast to Mount Olympus. However, in the show, this scene is replaced with Percy sacrificing himself so that Annabeth can complete the quest, and later being brought back to life by Hephaestus. Rick Riordan has said that the spiders were just impossible to bring to life in the show, and the scene likely would have used up a large chunk of their budget. 

 

There were some changes, even small ones, that I was less happy with. For one, I thought that Episode 6, “We Take a Zebra to Vegas,” felt rushed and made almost too many major changes to the plot. The Lotus Casino scenes were very rushed in general, and although I didn’t mind the change of Hermes being at the Casino, I didn’t like that they were only in there to complete their quest rather than to rest and play like they were in the book, showing how they were just kids who wanted to have fun. In the show, the scene felt too quick and like it was just filler for the rest of the show. Also, the deadline for the quest passing so quickly is so odd – but I am honestly interested to see where the writers take it from there. Episode 6 was probably one of my least favorite episodes so far, despite it setting up important moments in the final two.

 

Many people have found issues with the show going against the classic rule of “show, don’t tell.” However, I think that adapting a book that requires an explanation of huge parts of Greek mythology into a show-not-tell format is very difficult. In the book, much of the story is told by Percy’s internal narration – something that they cannot achieve on TV. Therefore, setup for the events of not only season one but also potential future seasons has to be done by the character’s explanations. I’m hopeful that this supposed “exposition dumping” will prove to help later seasons be better, rather than just bringing this one down. 

 

Despite criticism, I think the show overall is generally well done. For new and old fans of the series, it’s a fun and fresh way to experience the series all over again. However, I would say that instead of seeing it as a 100% true-to-book adaption, watch it as more of a new take on a well-loved series. If the show continues to do well, I hope we can expect a season two announcement sooner rather than later. 

 

 

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About the Contributor
Anoushka Kanitkar, Lead Staff
Anoushka Kanitkar is a dedicated and passionate junior at LTHS this year. This is her second year on the Vanguard Newspaper Staff. She’s an avid reader, writer, and enjoys listening to music in her downtime. Anoushka is thrilled to serve on lead staff this year and is excited to continue expanding into the limitless world of news and writing!

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