The Witcher - An Unmitigated Disaster

Another beloved IP destroyed

Jiří Stacho

8/7/20232 min read

The Witcher is theoretically one of the easiest IPs to adapt for a TV series. Not only you have beloved and acclaimed books but also a best-selling game series. Most writers would love to adapt such a property. Moreover, you have movie star Henry Cavill, who is a huge Witcher fan, willing to play Geralt for as long as they stay true to the source material. Yet Netflix somehow manages to give this property to Lauren Hissirch and her crew that actively mocks and belittles the books and games. Why give a project to someone who despises the source material you might ask. In today’s ideologically driven story telling studios are battling about who can destroy a beloved franchise and create the most horrific “modern adaptation”. It reached a point that Cavill decided to leave his dream role and quit the show. While the first season received generally positive reviews, I find the artificial focus on Yennefer and disjointed time jumps annoying. Apart from two noticeable exceptions, the fight scenes in the show are mediocre. Later, when Ciri starts sword fighting as well, it looks amateurish and unbelievable. Over the course of the show the inconsistencies in magic become laughable.

Problem 1 – In the show called the Witcher, the witcher is only a supporting character to strong and amazing women. Geralt is basically Yennefer and Ciri’s lapdog who goes on little side quests and takes the backseat whenever something of importance happens. Season 1 is Yennefer’s season and seasons 2&3 are Ciri’s. Geralt is barely in the last season. Hissirch promised a heroic ending for Cavill, yet he spends all the time injured lying in bed. Geralt is so sidelined that it’s embarrassing to watch.

Problem 2 – The show is determined to shove diversity and modern ideology into all the characters. They even admitted that Yennefer was cast to “challenge beauty standards”. All the characters look nothing like their book/games counterparts with the only exception being Henry Cavill. The characters act illogically all the time and there’s no life to them, no spark. It doesn’t feel like the characters are real.

Problem 3 – Lack of any attempt at worldbuilding whatsoever. You know how in all good fantasy stories the world feels real and livable? How the different areas are clearly distinguishable by its residents, architecture, clothes, customs, nature, climate, etc.? There’s none of that in the show. Every location looks the same, when characters travel, we have no idea if it takes hours or days, there is no distinctive trait in any place. Everything is this generic, cheap-looking grey filter.

Problem 4 – The producer’s unbearable smugness. The show is a complete failure, its spin-off Blood Origins is an abomination, the main star and the only bankable actor leaves, the show is put on hold indefinitely and the producers respond by blaming it on low intelligence of the audience, racism, sexism, and all that common victimhood points.

When adapting books, it’s normal and understandable to omit some details, push some characters to the background and combine some storylines to fit the running time. However, that’s not the case in this show. Here they shove characters into storylines they have nothing to do with just because the producers like them and cannot stand that a straight white male could possible be portrayed in a good light. Hissirch clearly self-inserts herself into the women characters and that’s why they’re all unwatchable. This is not uncommon in Hollywood these days. Kathleen Kennedy self inserts herself into Rey in Star Wars and there’re more such cases.

The Witcher is a disaster for Netflix. Many agenda driven shows are a disaster, yet studios and networks keep making them. We’ll see how long they can keep this up one failure after another. Considering the recent layoffs at Disney and WB and rumors about even selling some of their IPs, the change may be just around the corner.