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Could a Harry Potter TV series ever be without controversy?

  • Vox

    With J.K. Rowling's transphobia controversy hovering over any attempt at a Harry Potter series, "it’s so tempting to ask: If there’s going to be a Harry Potter TV series, is there a way to make it feel like a reclamation for the fans who have been most alienated from the original franchise over the years? Could more Harry Potter ever be okay? Initially, I thought so," says Aja Romano. "I thought about how any new Harry Potter story would inject new energy into the fandom, generating new conversations and creative interest. And those fans would have the ability to respond in their own ways. After all, they’ve already been critiquing and reshaping Harry Potter into a better version of itself for decades, through fanfiction and other fan commentary. But more than that, I thought about how a new series could allow Warner Bros. to openly reject Rowling’s intolerance with a Harry Potter story that embraces inclusivity, diversity, a transformational vision of the world she created. (Again, the company has said it has no plans for a series, but since the rumor is out there, let’s continue with this thought exercise.) A new series could be our chance to have a trans main character who receives their Hogwarts letter after they discover they can shape-shift into their true form. Desi Harry, Black Hermione, Remus/Sirius or Albus/Scorpius in a queer life partnership, queer and genderqueer wizards running amok. Asian characters whose identities aren’t fetishized, Jewish characters whose identities aren’t trivialized, non-demonized fat characters, non-nuclear, non-heteronormative families everywhere! The problem is that unless Warner Bros. were to strike an unprecedented deal, none of those transformative elements would be part of a Harry Potter series unless Rowling wanted them to be there. Rowling has always exerted authorial control over her universe and the messages it sends — across the books, across all the Warner Bros. movies (though the movies were written by Steve Kloves, she vetted all of his scripts), and even the Cursed Child stage play, which Rowling collaborated on. Anything that we respond to and love about a new Harry Potter series will still be something that ultimately came from J.K. Rowling — from the den mother who betrayed us. And given that she’s increasingly embraced mean, reactionary politics in her post-Harry Potter writing, I’m dubious that any new Harry Potter series that gains her approval will contain the open-hearted, optimistic kindness that drew so many people to the original stories. New Harry Potter can only be a source of ultimate harm unless Rowling lets go of her creative control and cedes her universe to other minds — something I sense she’s very unlikely to ever do, given how much she’s continued to contribute further world-building to the universe over the years, and how unrepentant she has been about how much she’s hurt fans."

    TOPICS: Harry Potter, HBO Max, Untitled Harry Potter TV Series