Fantasy Strikes Back!

Have you noticed that fantasy is reclaiming TV and movies?

Off the top of my head, I can name six or seven fantasy television shows airing right now, and only about three of those involve sexy vampires. These are mainstream, popular shows, too, not “SyFy” weirdness. I can also think of half a dozen fantasy movies coming out in the next year. Some of them look awful, sure, but it’s exciting all the same.

Fantasy is becoming mainstream with a vengeance.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a fantasy writer. Before I made my name my domain, this blog was called “Kristin’s Fantasies,” which really was apt. I write about writing, sure, but I also like to write about the fantasy genre. Needless to say, it fills my little heart with joy to see fantasy becoming popular with the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, not all those fantasy shows are great for fantasy as a whole. They may attract more people to fantasy, but they’re not elevating the genre by any means. Not all fantasy is about sexy vampires and pseudo-strong heroines who get off on letting their boyfriends feed on them. These shows also aren’t doing women any favors… but I don’t want to get sidetracked into that particular pit of quicksand.

I see three major trends:

  1. Supernatural Soap Operas (True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Being Human)
  2. Fairy Tales (Once Upon a Time, at least three movies coming out in the next year)
  3. True Fantasy (Game of Thrones, The Hobbit)

Supernatural soap operas are your basic shows about pretty people (frequently teens) sleeping together, dealing with friends, and facing their enemies, but with fantasy trappings. Plenty of them have elements of a good urban fantasy novel (mystery, suspense, quest, etc), and that’s good by me. But too many of them have sexy vampires and the women who feed them, and that’s not a good thing.

Fairy tales are fairy tales. Duh. Sometimes these are in a modern setting, sometimes they’re in a classic setting, sometimes they’re a mix of the two. I don’t want to review them show-by-show, but overall, I’m a little disappointed in these. Fairy tales offer the perfect blend of light and darkness, with a wealth of potentially flawed characters, but most of the shows and movies leave me either yawning or sniggering. I think some of them try to preserve the moral of some fairytales, and come off preachy or goodie-two-shoes, while others aim for the dark side of the fairy tales and just hit grotesque.

True fantasy shows and movies are a little more rare, typically because they require big-budget effects like dragons, magic, and exotic sets. I don’t have too many complaints about these, partly because there are fewer of them and partly because I love to see true fantasy brought to life (well).

I like to think this isn’t a fad. I like to think it’s the beginning of a permanent change. If fantasy is mainstream, that’s good news for all of us want to write about vampires (sexy or otherwise), fairies, dragons, and magic. But let’s see if we can start pulling up the quality, shall we? Let’s write women who dump a man who wants to feed on her. Let’s write fairy tales that show people making mistakes and growing from them. Let’s write true fantasy that pushes the boundaries, takes us to realms we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

Let’s help fantasy become truly magical.

5 thoughts on “Fantasy Strikes Back!

  1. I’m glad to see fantasy taken seriously. In the past, many fantasy movies or series with great potential have been ruined because they didn’t take themselves seriously. Now, I’m not saying I need big-budget sets (that’s a plus) but what I do need is good writing and good acting. Game of Thrones was one of my favorite things of last year, simply because everyone involved in making it took it seriously, instead of the ‘good enough’ approach.

    Not only is this good news for us as people who Write fantasy, but it’s great news as people who Watch fantasy!

    • You’ve got a great point. Just the fact that someone like Sean Bean was in Game of Thrones, and that Peter Dinklage won an Emmy for his performance(!!) indicates that fantasy is getting the serious name it deserves.

  2. I’d like to see more agents/publishers embracing fantasy again. It’s disheartening to be researching markets and see Fantasy/SciFi lumped under the bold heading: What I’m Not Looking For.

    BTW, don’t forget to add Dragonriders of Pern to your list of (hopefully) upcoming fantasy movies. I’ve been waiting for that one for decades! I’m anxious to see if it actually materializes this time.

    • Oh, that is a bummer. I’m going to start my market research in a month or two. How disheartening… Eh, well. Not going to stop me.

      And seriously?! Dragonriders! That is SO exciting. Hopefully it’s not like the mythical live action movie of The Last Unicorn that’s been pre-production for about a decade.

      • It seems a much narrower field right now for the fantasy genre. However, as it’s popularity in tv/movies soars, that might just change.

        Last I saw on Dragonriders ~ 2013. Anticipation…..

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