Hulu’s New Fantasy Adaptation: A Court of Thorns & Roses

Hulu’s new book to series adaptation of Sarah J Maas’s A Court of Thorns & Roses has cultural, racial and diversity potential. 

Credit: Deadline

Netflix’s fantasy series Shadow & Bone earlier this year saw critical and commercial success. Undeniably, Young Adult fantasy series are becoming increasingly more popular.

Television network Peacock has also jumped on the fantasy train, snatching up the rights for Victoria Aveyard’s best selling YA series Red Queen. Elizabeth Banks is returning to the director’s chair after her directing debut in 2015 with Pitch Perfect 2.

And Hulu has retained the rights to one of author Sarah J Maas’s most popular series in the YA Fantasy Genre, A Court of Thorns and Roses. The series will be written and adapted by Ronald D. Moore alongside the author. Moore has lots of experience in adapting books for television having successfully adapting Diana Gabaldon’s historical fantasy series, Outlander.

A Court of Thorns & Roses

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A Court of Thorns & Roses (ACOTAR) was first published in 2015 immediately rose to one of the most popular books within the genre. It was soon followed by A Court of Mist and Fury in 2016, A Court of Wings and Ruin 2017, A Court of Frost and Starlight 2018, and most recently, A Court of Silver Flames.

The official synopsis for the first book in the series reads:

“When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.”

Maas is also the author of YA fantasy series Throne of Glass which originally was rumoured to be the adaption Hulu was picking up back in 2016. Multiple books in the Throne of Glass series have topped The New York Times Best Sellers list. According to Screen Rant, this project has been shelved in favour of the ACOTAR adaptation. 

Danielle Russell as a Possible Lead

Credit: Charlie Bowater & Pinterest

One of the biggest issues behind already having a massive pre-existing fandom, is that fans already have strong ideas of the characters through fan art. A prime example of this was in Netflix’s Shadow and Bone. Actress Danielle Galligan was subjected to many fans arguing that she was “not fat enough” for the role of Nina Zenik.

The Original’s actress Danielle Russell has suffered extreme abuse after there was speculation that she may be cast in the led role as Feyre. She was spammed with people saying she was “too fat” for the role. This was a result of the discovery that the actress followed Maas on Instagram. The immense abuse led Russell to delete her Twitter account and unfollowing everyone on Instagram.

While others have shown support, and even photoshopping Danielle as Feyre, many still believe she is not fit for the role. Danielle Russell is far from being anything close to being overweight, but may turn down the role due to the constant harassment. This could be a result of the fandom having one distinct vision of the character, that has been brought to life through fanart.

One fan took to Reddit to express their concerns about the adaptation. Saying that the fanbase for the popular series has become toxic over the years. And that:

“I’m worried about with it is how fans will end up being upset that the cast for the characters won’t match up with the fanart.”

Diversity & Representation Potential & Fan Concerns (Spoilers!)

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No book series is perfect, and A Court of Thorns and Roses covers a wide variety of topics such as sexual abuse, feminism and LGBTQ+ issues. Some of these topics are not as well represented as others and can become quite problematic in terms of accurate representation. Many fans have called for Maas and Moore to call out the problematic parts rather than cut out or not change them. It is expected from audiences that a TV series in 2021 include some sort of diversity and representation. A Court of Thorns and Roses has the potential if changed appropriately to include many different cultures, races and sexualities.

Here are some of the main concerns fans have and changes that if addressed properly can make the series something everyone can look forward to:

1. Racial Misrepresentation

One fan indicated their worries about racial misrepresentation in a Tumblr post.

Credit: Tumblr

The ACOTAR series has the potential to include such a diverse cast of characters, which can have a positive impact on the industry if represented correctly. Having this represented accurately in characters is extremely important. However, Sarah and Ron must be careful in how they choose to represent certain racial groups. As it has a very real effect on how those people are seen in the real world.

2. LGBTQ+ Representation

When the series initially came out, many fans called for a LGBTQ+ character. This resulted in Maas changing one of the character sexualities. Many were not happy with the choice because it felt it was extremely forced and didn’t suit the character.

A reader expressed on Tumblr:

“I felt the same way about Mor, kinda. It’s very clear Mor wasn’t meant to be lgbt. Yet Maas forced it in.”

Maas and Moore should strongly consider either introducing the character as LGBTQ+ off the bat and rewriting her to feel less forced. Write her journey into finding her sexuality and making it more prevalent within the storyline rather than treating it as a side story and pulling it out of nowhere. Or introduce other main characters that will accurately and authentically represent the LGBTQ+ community.

3. Sexual Abuse

Credit: Twitter

ACOTAR has immense potential to accurately show the effects of sexual abuse from the perspective of a male. Right now there are some gaps when it comes to this characters journey. An anonymous reader commented:

“Also I’m hoping they’ll dive deeper into Rhys being sexually assaulted cause it’s kinda powerful to have a male main character who’s been through this and is usually seen as “invincible”. It would be great to point out that this can happen to anyone and maybe even address this when he and Feyre start having sex. I was super surprised he was just able to have sex like nothing ever happened so it’d be great I’d they addressed this further.”

There are a couple of scenes in the book that include fetishised non-consensual touching. This is something that should definitely be addressed by Maas and Moore in the show. This also goes for the Great Rite of Calanmai in the series which features a high amount of sexual activity the writers must ensure they represent the right consensual practices.

4. Cultural & Racial Diversity

Because of the way the world of ACOTAR is already set up, it houses an enormous potential to include a wide array of cultures from around the world. ACOTAR is set in the fantasy land of Prythian that is split into 7 High Courts: Spring Court, Summer Court, Autumn Court, Winter Court, Dawn Court, Day Court and Night Court as well as the human lands.

Over the years, fans have developed certain aesthetics for each of these Courts that include different countries and cultures around the world. Incorporating different parts of the world into the story world of the show rather than just applying the aesthetic to an American or English setting would go a long way in cultural and racial diversity.

The Spring Court – Renaissance Europe

Credit: Pinterest

The Summer Court – Caribbean Islands

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The Autumn Court – Scotland

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The Winter Court – Nordic Viking Culture

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The Dawn Court – India

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The Day Court – Continent of Africa

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The Night Court – Turkey & Norway

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Hopefully Sarah J Maas and Ron Moore hear the concerns of the fans and address the issues needed. In doing so, they will engage with their audience and create an amazing TV series everyone looks forward to!

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