Written by: Rylee Thomas
This time last year, nobody had it better than the dedicated Leigh Bardugo fanbase. Shadow and Bone, the eight-episode series based on two interconnected YA fantasy sagas, had just dropped on Netflix, and it made waves worldwide. Streamed by more than 55 million member households in its first 28 days, the series was renewed for season two— with an even bigger budget. Audiences were thrilled to watch their beloved gang of crows conducting their dirty dealings, the Grisha army delving into the mystical Shadow Fold… and Ben Barnes. Just. Ben Barnes.
I’m a huge Grishaverse fan, and I adored the show, but I’ll admit, I’m not one of the fans who grew up with the series. I decided to read all the books only a few months before the show came out because the premise hooked me, and I needed a new show to obsess over. I mean, a Russia-inspired high fantasy kingdom with elemental magic… and a mysterious, dark-haired villain who just happens to be played by Ben Barnes? Sign me up!
For many months, I did obsess over the show. So, in that regard, mission accomplished. However, I’d argue that the greatest service Shadow and Bone accomplished for me far outweighed the price of one fandom spring fling.
Shadow and Bone sparked an early 2000s YA adaptation phenomenon.
Yes, you heard that right. A phenomenon. As great as Shadow and Bone was, I’m about to see all the YA series that really did make my adolescence magical come to life on Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu.
Curious as to what these magical series might be? What form they’ll take? What actors our directors might cast? Don’t worry, because I’ve compiled a (refreshingly long) list. You’re welcome.
1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
I had to talk about this one. I mean, they just released the news yesterday! Walker Scobell, the 13-year-old breakout star of Netflix’s The Adam Project, has been cast as (a thankfully age-appropriate) Percy in the upcoming Disney+ TV series based on the series we grew up reading.
So many fans loathed the two movies released in the early 2010s, and for good reason. They were a huge departure from the beloved source material. From the total restructuring of the original madcap plots to the cast of actors in the entirely wrong age group, the Chris Columbus movies disappointed PJO fans in every respect but two. The films’ only redeeming qualities were (a) the Lotus Casino scene and (b) this one line delivered by Luke with perfect comedic timing:
The TV series, however, is bound for spectacular horizons. Thankfully, Rick Riordan, who disliked the movies just as much as his readers, will executive produce. Riordan is already heavily involved with production, writing, and, of course, casting. In yesterday’s update, he shared, “It was obvious to me and the rest of the team that Walker had the perfect mix of comedic timing, sweetness, rebelliousness, snark, and heroism to embody our hero Percy Jackson.”
Going forward, my only wish is that Riordan and Disney will take their opportunity to diversify the cast and cast young actors of color in the roles of Annabeth and/or Grover. Many fans had fancasted Percy as a POC. So, even though fans are extremely supportive of Walker, many hope Disney will cast non-white actors in the other starring roles of the series!
2. The Selection by Kiera Cass
This one is my Joker, except I’ll be worse.
Two years ago, Variety broke the news that Kiera Cass’s dystopian fairytale romance The Selection would be headed to Netflix. Even though it’s been a long two years, Netflix’s The Selection is still rolling full-steam ahead.
It’s just rolling rather slowly. However, The Selection is expected to be released by fall 2022 to early 2023. It will be a movie, not a series, but diehard fans (many of us have been around since middle school) are bound to demand the full trilogy.
The Selection also fell victim to a tasteless attempt at adaptation in the early 2010s. Unlike PJO, thankfully, the CW adaptation failed to launch, and though clips of the unreleased pilot can be found if you scour the Internet hard enough, some kind soul has done the world a service and removed most of it from the public eye. I mean, they tried to make Maxon, heroine America Singer’s golden retriever boyfriend, into a womanizer who gave everybody the ick. Watch at your own risk.
However, if you need a laugh today, I do recommend watching this funny YouTube review of the pilot.
Anyway, the new series is going to be great. Netflix already has a full script. No cast, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have our speculations… (wink, wink). In recent months, Director Haifaa Al-Mansour followed Abigail Cowen (of Winx), Michael Provost, and Madelyn Cline (of Outer Banks) on Instagram. Are these actors dead ringers for America, Maxon, and Marlee, respectively? Only time will tell.
3. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Thankfully, Netflix is getting moving on The School for Good and Evil. They will release the film in the latter half of 2022, and I couldn’t be more excited.
For readers who don’t know much about the middle-grade series, think of The School for Good and Evil as a fairytale about a friendship between two young girls who couldn’t be more different. At age twelve, best friends Sophie and Agatha go where all the lost children go: the mythical School for Good and Evil, where boys and girls are trained to be fairytale heroes and villains. Sophie, the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, has dreamed of pink dresses, glass slippers, and good deeds all her life, while Agatha is the daughter of a witch. However, in an odd twist of fate, Sophie winds up dumped in the School for Evil, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good. But maybe this mistake says something about who Sophie and Agatha really are…?
Needless to say, the Wicked vibes are strong with this one. ‘Tis only appropriate, given the fact that the film will star two such strong musical theatre singers.
Yes, I’m thrilled to report that we have our Sophie and Agatha, and— you’re going to laugh— Sophie will be played by Sophia Anne Caruso (of Beetlejuice the Musical) and Agatha will be portrayed by Sofia Wylie (of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series).
That’s a LOT of Sophie/Sophia/Sofies floating around out there, and I’m just cracking up picturing them all calling out for one another on set.
We also have casting for the love interests. Jamie Flatters will play frat boy Prince Tedros, Earl Cave with play our beloved emo boy Hort, and Kit Young will play Rafal.
Kit Young! That’s Jesper from Shadow and Bone. I’m so excited to see him transition from the lovable sharpshooter to the evil villain. He is most definitely going to kill it.
Be excited. The YA fanatics of the early 2010s are finally getting all the glorious cinematic content they deserve, and we have Shadow and Bone to thank.
While you’re waiting, go follow Soman Chainani on TikTok. He’s so funny, and it’s a great way to keep getting updates while you’re awaiting the Netflix adaptation with bated breath.