It feels like an eternity since Shadow and Bone, the TV adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling books, premiered on Netflix. The series, which follows a young woman who learns that she’s in possession of a power that allows her to summon the sun and tries to use it to save her war-torn country from a dark void, was renewed for a second season shortly after Season 1 came out in April 2021, but we haven’t gotten much news since. While you’re patiently waiting, you might as well find a new show to watch in the meantime.
From YA dramas about teens with mystical powers to intricate fantasies with big, expansive worlds, there’s a show on this list for every kind of Shadow and Bone fan.
Shadowhunters and Shadow and Bone have a lot more in common than the fact that both of their titles contain the world “shadow.” Shadowhunters is also based on a book series, Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series to be specific, and it also centers around a young woman discovering her life-altering powers. On her 18th birthday, Clary (Katherine McNamara) learns that she belongs to a long line of human-angel hybrids called, you guessed it, shadowhunters, who have devoted their lives to defeating demons. After Clary’s mother is kidnapped, she becomes entrenched in her brand new world of her, befriending a group of fellow hunters and encountering creatures like vampires and werewolves along the way. Like Alina, Clary is just a teenager trying to figure out how to use her new abilities for good and save the world as she knows it.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is much goofier than Shadow and Bone, but most importantly, it stars a teen heroine learning to hone her powers. Kiernan Shipka plays the eponymous Sabrina, whose half-human, half-witch ancestry has left her caught between life as a “normal” high school student in the mortal world and life in the darker world of witchcraft and mythical creatures. As the show goes on, Sabrina resists attempts from powerful figures (including Satan himself) trying to decide her destiny for her. This show is full of very fun, very witchy moments and also, most importantly, has healthy amounts of teen relationship drama. There’s not much more you can ask for.
Yet another book adaptation! His Dark Materials is based on Philip Pullman’s trilogy of novels, and it’s actually a pretty underrated show as far as HBO fantasy dramas go. Like Shadow and Bone, it centers around a young orphan who suddenly discovers that she has a responsibility to save the world. Lyra (Dafne Keen) is younger than Alina, and the lords of their worlds are different — Lyra comes from one in which every human is born with an animal embodiment of their soul, known as a daemon, and has everything from a highly intelligent army of polar bears to Lin-Manuel Miranda — but their senses of duty feel similar. It helps that His Dark Materials is an engaging show that’s very easy to get lost in.
The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s book series, stars Henry Cavill as monster hunter for hire Geralt of Rivia, a witcher whose destiny binds him to the sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) and the powerful princess Ciri (Freya Allan). This is about as traditional a fantasy show as you can get, complete with magic, terrifying monsters, and dangerous quests, but while it really indulges in all the exciting visuals, what keeps the story interesting is Geralt’s resistance to fulfilling the prophecy that has been laid out for him. So, yes, there are the incredibly serious elements you want from a show like this, but on the flip side, there are also characters with very silly names like “Fringilla” and “Vilgefortz,” which reminds you not to take this stuff too seriously.
Everyone has an origin story, and before she became the Lady of the Lake, the legend who would go on to give Excalibur to King Arthur, she was simply a young enchantress named Nimue (Katherine Langford). Most of the shows on this list are about characters fulfilling their destinies, and I’m happy to say cursed is no different: Nimue teams up with Arthur (Devon Terrell) in order to help save her people from the Red Paladins, a group of murderous religious fanatics. It’s a coming-of-age story that occasionally gets very violent, and while those tonal shifts aren’t always done very elegantly, if you loved Alina’s arc, you’ll probably love Nimue’s too. Also, there are shades of Alina’s relationship with Mal (Archie Renaux) in Nimue’s partnership with Arthur, in case you were missing that dynamic after finishing Shadow and Bone.
If you like the magic aspects of Shadow and Bone but wished it looked a little, let’s say, worse, meet Marline. The good news is that the 2008 BBC show’s low-budget effects are part of its charm! Marline is based on a story you’ve probably at least heard of, about Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James) before he became King Arthur, and his enemy-turned-close-friend relationship with Merlin (Colin Morgan). They live in a world where magic is outlawed, and a big part of the show is Merlin going to great lengths to hide his abilities from him. But much like Alina, Merlin finds he has no choice but to use his powers from him to save Camelot and protect Arthur, who just so happens to hate magic.
If all the other shows on this list are too dark, The Letter for the King is the whole show you need in your life. Set in a medieval realm, a young boy, Tiuri (Amir Wilson), sets out on a mission to deliver a letter to the king warning him of a great darkness threatening the kingdom. On his journey, he meets some curious characters and fights his way out of treacherous situations, all while being pursued by a band of knights who are trying to stop him. There’s no magic or mythology in this series, but with its plucky hero, his quirky friends de el, and a larger sense of duty, it has the same kind of adventurous YA spirit that made many people love Shadow and Bone.
For yet another teen heroine stuck in a difficult situation, you can check out black moon. Witchcraft is very, very real in this Italian series about sixteen-year-old Ade (Antonia Fotaras) who is accused of being a witch and subsequently leaves her village to go live with a group of — drumroll please — witches! They’re busy guarding the portal between the living and the dead, and Ade gets busy developing a crush on the son of the head witch hunter, because this is the first and foremost a YA show. Aside from that, though, black moon takes a gritty look at magic, witchcraft, and the persecution of women in conjunction with it, and it was also entirely written and directed by women, which is probably the coolest thing about it.
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