The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The rebirth of a Percy Jackson kid

In the new Percy Jackson show, an awkward 12-year-old boy on a TV screen can awaken your inner middle-school spirit
Disney/David Bukach

The question “Were you a Percy Jackson or Harry Potter kid?” always stumps me.

When I was really young, my parents read the Harry Potter series to me and my sister. At some point, we had to stop because the character Dobby was (for some reason) terrifying to my older sister. I quite honestly can’t remember if I ever finished reading the series. I think my dad read the rest to me, or maybe I read them when I got older, but that will forever be a mystery to me.

When I was in middle school, I was struggling with reading at my age level. My parents had an uphill battle to get me to read on my own. I would open a book that interested me and see nothing but a jumble of letters. The books I could read were so far below my age group I had no interest in reading them.

So my mom downloaded my first audiobook. I listened to the entire Percy Jackson series and pretty much everything else written by Rick Riordan before I outgrew his books. Audiobooks, and the Percy Jackson series in particular, rekindled my love for reading, and eventually, my reading abilities caught up with my age level and I switched back to physical books.

Percy Jackson might have been the first book I was introduced to by audiobooks (I can’t remember that either). But what I do remember is absolutely adoring them.

The series was relatable and fantastical and firmly placed me on the trajectory of loving anything fantasy for the next chapter of my life. Percy’s struggle with reading was certainly something I identified with. It is because of the different mythologies represented in Riodran’s books that I am still fascinated by mythologies of every kind, something that most Percy Jackson kids share. The Percy Jackson series also contains positive queer representation, something that appealed to me as a closeted little middle schooler. And Harry Potter decidedly did not.

But then, the Percy Jackson movies sucked…so bad—truly I could not watch them again—and the Harry Potter movies exceeded anyone’s expectations. Throughout high school, I forgot about my love for Percy Jackson as the Harry Potter movies became a staple in my friend group.

My high school friends’ group chat name is a Harry Potter reference, we rewatched some of the movies together during winter break and we constantly reach back to the movies and books to make jokes.

So I became a Harry Potter kid long after it was cool to be one, but in reality, I was a Harry Potter movie kid and a Percy Jackson book kid.

Needless to say, the announcement of a new Disney+ Percy Jackson show was met by me with excitement, and a little bit of worry that it would be just as bad as the movies. Over break, I curled up on the couch with my girlfriend and watched the first four episodes. I was not disappointed.

In full disclosure, it has been a long time since I have read (or listened to) any of the Percy Jackson books, so I cannot speak fully to whether or not the show is faithful to the books, as I have already established, I have a horrible memory.

The show has awakened some childish joy in me. Something about adorable, horribly awkward, pre-teen kids struggling through real and fantastical challenges just makes me smile. Watching the show is like reuniting with long-lost childhood friends. It is silly and powerful and overall, really well done.

The acting is (surprisingly) compelling and while the characters may be (to some people’s dismay) “diversified”—which is certainly not a negative thing in my book—they are true to the spirit of the original characters. I can only imagine the satisfaction and importance of this show to some 12-year-old kids out there right now who are just beginning to discover the world of Percy Jackson and don’t have to watch some horrible movies.

I now Teleparty the show with my girlfriend and then watch the episodes again with my roommate (I’m the only one in the apartment with a Disney+ subscription), who was also a diehard Percy Jackson kid. Watching it twice allows me to pick up on the little details but it also has cemented the show’s place in my repertoire of films to rewatch.

So despite the place in my heart for my high school Harry Potter-themed friends, a new and good show adaptation of Percy Jackson that I can love and rewatch might push Harry Potter firmly out of its staple in my childhood nostalgia.

At the ripe age of 20, I am definitely a Percy Jackson kid.

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