Like every fantasy show coming out now, Shadow and Bone has been compared to Game of Thrones. Star Jessie Mei Li thinks they “couldn’t be more different.”
The first season of Shadow and Bone came out on Netflix a couple weeks back and it’s proved a hit with people looking to scratch that fantasy itch that used to be taken care of by Game of Thrones…or maybe not. It’s inevitable that every new fantasy show gets compared to the wildly successful Game of Thrones, but is there anything to the comparison, or is it just done out of habit?
Speaking to Digital Spy, Shadow and Bone star Jessie Mei Li, who plays lead character Alina Starkov, gave her take. “I love Game of Thrones, but I feel it couldn’t be more different from Game of Thrones in terms of tone and what it’s saying,” she said. “It isn’t set remotely in the same kind of time either. This is way more sort of 1800s steampunk industrial revolution stuff than it is swords and dragons.”
But the comparison being made is also very cool if it means that people like it. When asked what I would compare it to, you kind of have to draw from lots of different places…If anything, the thing that comes to mind for me is Star Wars…It has fun adventure and romance and a bit of softer violence, but nothing that’s too… families can watch it as well. That’s more of the comparison that I would make.
I more or less agree with this, although in some cases those superficial similarities go pretty deep. The country of Ravka is divided by a magical barrier that’s not unlike the Wall, there’s a bunch of courtly intrigue going on in the Little Palace…but yes, the tone of Shadow and Bone is much lighter than on Game of Thrones. It’s an adaptation of a YA novel series, after all.
That said, I also get why people would use Game of Thrones as a touchstone given how influential it was; if nothing else, I don’t think the chances of Shadow and Bone being greenlit would be as good has Game of Thrones not proven that there was an appetite for fantasy. But they’re pretty different beasts.
Continuing with the Star Wars comparisons, Li also teased some of the struggles in Alina’s future should the show get picked up for a second season: “I think that’s always interesting when we have a protagonist [in Alina] who is drawn to that sort of – again, it’s very Star Wars – but drawn to the dark side, and whether or not they go there, how that affects their relationships and things.”
There’s no word yet on whether Shadow and Bone will be back, but given what a hit it’s been, the cast is hopeful: