"The show has changed lives, even saved them": 'Shadowhunters' fan shares a powerful story of how the show turned her life around
An active campaigner in the #SaveShadowhunters Movement, Gerri (KJ) shares with MEAWW the reasons why the show must go on
For most TV viewers, 'Shadowhunters' may just be another supernatural sci-fi drama series that brings a vibrant blend of warlocks, vampires and werewolves into a rich storyline. But the fantasy show, based on Cassandra Clare's bestselling young adult book series 'The Mortal Instruments' that follows a group of human-angel hybrids who fight to protect their world by hunting down demons, goes beyond the scope of mere entertainment.
Beneath the story of teens combating evil is a narrative that has struck deep chords with viewers on relationships, representing different minority communities and becoming a voice for the voiceless. So much so that when news of Freeform cancelling 'Shadowhunters' after it's season three run came to light, fans launched intense campaigns to #SaveShadowhunters.
That's when I knew my story needed to be told. I'm Gerri (KJ) and this is why the show means so much more than a TV pasttime. Let me start by telling you a little about myself. I am 50 years old. I've worked all my life up until a few years ago. I have three children, who are all adults now. I have been married and divorced twice. My first marriage was very abusive. I stayed in that marriage for 10 years before I had the courage to file for divorce.
I had a difficult marriage where my husband was abusive and very controlling. In fact, at one point, if it wasn't for a 911 call, I wouldn't be here today. The first time, I didn't know what happened. All I remember is coming to with him straddling me, telling me to get up. For a second I felt like I was weightless, kind-of disconnected. Then, my head started pounding. It took a second before reality set in.
It was then I realized I was struggling to breathe. I heard sirens around me and realized I was in a parking lot. If the police had not come when they did... well, I don't like to think about it. I stayed with him for years after that. Why? I guess battered wife syndrome.
Back then, you didn't talk about those things, let alone see anything on TV on how to get help. It was years later before he did it again. That time I remembered every detail of him choking me and saw the look in his eyes. I knew then that I had to leave or my kids wouldn’t have a mom. I left five months later. That was 20 years ago. I have lived with these memories for 20 years and everything that comes with it.
So what is the connection between my abused past and a TV series? Mental Illness, depression, abuse and even dealing with someone coping with drug abuse, etc., is something we see on TV all the time. However, for me, 'Shadowhunters' has portrayed this like no other show has. Being allowed to see those feelings come to life the way I actually felt — through each stage; seeing them as the actor portrayed them is surreal. For a show to pull out these phases, these feelings and these emotions were in a league all on its own.
In fact, watching Jace Herondale, played by Dominic Sherwood, overcome these odds was self-gratifying. He made me see that I got the courage to do what I needed to do. I not only faced my demons, but when I left my former husband, when I made it, I wasn't a victim anymore. I became a survivor... I am a survivor!
And that is exactly what was portrayed in the last few episodes aired so far — the strength and vulnerability; asking for help — all the things we should do when we need to. All the episodes have something to learn from. They are all handled with so much love and tenderness. It felt like I was with Jace through all the phases again. It was very emotional for me but that's how much I connected with him. There aren't a lot of shows I can say this about. Actually, there arent any!
The strong women in lead roles are another aspect I find important in the show, and to me personally. Years ago, I ended up gaining a stalker. I was terrified! I was always looking over my shoulder — scared and feeling defenseless, trapped in my own home, afraid to walk outside.
I never saw him until he wanted me to see him or he wanted me to know he was around. He always stayed on that imaginary line between legal and breaking the law until one night when he exploded. He was watching me through a window and saw someone flirting with me and snapped. He took out a knife and started taking his rage out on my car. I remember the officer telling me it was a good thing I didn't walk outside during his "rage". Otherwise, that would have been me instead of my car. I was lucky that I had a witness that night because he now has a stalking record.
However, not everyone is so lucky and again that's where 'Shadowhunters' helped me. An armed stalker is not a good combo. I don't know if you can ever refer to a stalker in past tense or not but you learn to empower yourself which I did with the help of Katherine McNamara (Clary Fairchild), Emeraude Toubia (Izzy Lightwood) and Alisha Wainwright (Maia Roberts).
The show has definitely helped me regain my power. I'm not searching for his face constantly. I'm still cautious, of course, but I've taken my power back. We need women that empower us. 'Shadowhunters' does just that! They have given me that. Imagine what they have given to so many others!
Let me reiterate that 'Shadowhunters' means so much to all of us. The same stories make different impressions on viewers. Each character faces their own demons. Each one on the show faces so many obstacles and adversities! But they overcome them all together. They are family, which is how we all should be.
That is not how other shows are. Other shows show constant cheating, betrayal, rape, molestation, incest, abuse, bullying and other crimes. The list goes on. Sadly, young adults have embedded in their mind that it is okay to be treated this way. THIS IS WRONG! We should encourage our youth, not embed these kinds of things in their subconscious!
'Shadowhunters' is the first-of-its-kind to show healthy relationships in all aspects. ALL being the key word, not to mention, strong female representation. Lead female roles, minorities in lead roles, etc., The show has changed lives; even saved them.
I have seen a lot of shows come and go and never thought twice about them, but this one is different. It portrays so much more. It has explained how relationships should be, helped parents understand their children better when, otherwise, their children would still be suffering in silence or, worse, done something to harm themselves.
And that is what I believe is the reason why I stand up for the show with such passion. I suffer with breathing problems and stay in constant pain, so to type or write causes me a lot of pain. For me to do these things for this show should say a lot about how I feel about it and what it stands for. There isn't one bad thing that I can say about this show.
This show is something I think we need to keep on the air, now more than ever. The message is stronger than I think some people realize. Letting 'Shadowhunters' go now is a mistake. I am a viewer, a mother of three who has lived for 50 years like anyone else my age. I'm a consumer, I watch TV — a lot of it these days. I'm not a business executive nor have I worked in the field. I also don't claim to know anything about their jobs or understand the ‘economics’ of all this. However, I am sure that there is more to this show than meets the eye.
There are millions of viewers that relate to the same thing. We just want them to see what we see. Realize that it is there. Give us another chance. There is potential for revenue — a lot; if that even has any bearing on this whatsoever. This is different than anything else on television. The fan base is already there. The story is there and has so many directions to go, so many storylines to explore.
Marketing — there has already been a lot of free marketing and PR done for them through the #SaveShadowhunters campaign. There have been articles in the newspapers, online and on the news. CBC The National in Toronto aired a story about the show and all the ‘marketing’ we have done (at that time it was nine weeks). There has been so much that has happened since they canceled the show. I could write about it for days.
However, I just wanted to share some of my story with people; some of the reasons why I am so passionate about the show — something that, in the 50 years that I've lived, I have not been so driven about, so willing to fight for. I want everyone to see what we see!
Another aspect to my passionate campaign is an unlikely supporter. My mother, who is 73, also watches the show. I wasn't quite sure how older generations would handle it, just because of the fact of how they were raised. My mother has always been understanding and loving. I wasn't expecting her to be anything but caring. She didn't disappoint me! She's a 'Shadowhunters' fan as well now! She's not prejudiced. We are part Native American ourselves. For the first time in a TV show, all couples are portrayed as loving, caring, and nurturing — as they should be.
That takes me to the other end of the spectrum: I raised my children to love everyone. They have been bullied. They have dealt with things growing up, as we all have, that as a parent, we handle as we go. Not all parents understand or know how to cope with everything their child goes through. This show is something that HAS actually helped parents understand their children more and help them to be able to help their children. That is a rare gift that doesn't come around often. Yet another reason to keep this show on the air.
Ever since I went online to take up the campaign, I have seen several people comment and say how this show has changed their view about different types of couples. Because of their phobias, they have always feared seeing them. Now, the same people see no difference in any of the relationships. They are all the same. That in itself is a miracle! If we can change people's views with this show then why take it off the air? That is the question I want to leave the readers with.
This is the first time I am sharing personal insights to aid the campign, hoping I can make a difference. I am sharing this for my ShadowFAM and for #SaveShadowhunters. If this can help someone else stay safe and if sharing my story helps them, then it's worth sharing.
The writer is a Shadowhunters fan. If you have a positive story about how 'Shadowhunters' changed your life, or would like to share fan pics and videos, please DM us on Twitter @meawwofficial or email [email protected]