‘Shadowhunters’: Every time Freeform put a massive gulf between Malec
Even though Shadowhunters has been off the air for quite some time now, it’s still streamed widely on Netflix & Hulu as it continues to garner much community and support online. Everyone knows how much we love Shadowhunters & would love nothing more than to see it return to our screens. Real talk, though. There are things we would change if it were to come back.
Let’s start this conversation with how Freeflop chose to represent the Malec relationship. The term ‘Malec’ is the ship name given to the ever-popular LGBTQ relationship played out on screen in this show between Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr) & Alec Lightwood (Matthew Daddario). The LGBTQ community flocked to this show because Malec existed in the first place.
Malec fans formed a die-hard alliance online & followed the trajectory of their relationship fiercely. While there were many things we absolutely adored about their relationship, there were inconsistencies in the way the network censored Malec in comparison to the heterosexual relationships that played out.
There were minor inconsistencies littered all throughout the series but we’ve chosen just to focus on the major moments of Freeflop’s Malec censorship. Come with us as we journey through some of the times Freeflop put a massive gulf between Malec.
The balcony makeout scene
After Alec & Magnus portal back from their dinner date in Japan, the pair end up on Magnus’s balcony making out on his couch. While we love ourselves a good Malec makeout session, and we’ll take what we can get, this scene is problematic for several reasons.
Firstly, Magnus & Alec are not even really facing each other. They are sitting shoulder to shoulder as they awkwardly twist towards each other’s faces. When the scene is examined carefully enough, viewers can actually see the gap between their arms and legs creating a clear physical distance between their bodies . . . This doesn’t exactly scream freshly in love dudes that are hot & heavy for each other.
Secondly, as if the scene wasn’t already chaste enough, the whole kiss lasts less than 5 seconds before they are interrupted by Alec’s phone. As the scene opens they are already kissing so there is an implication that they had been at it for a while, but really Freeflop? Less than 5 seconds? Sheesh.
The dance with no pants
In the same episode as the awkward balcony scene described above, a very sexually frustrated Alec storms Magnus’s apartment. The intent here is clear: Alec wants to have sex. Magnus is cautious at first, expressing fears about them moving too quickly, but contrary to popular opinion, this isn’t the issue we had with this scene.
The problem here is that there isn’t really a scene at all. Malec stans were effectively robbed of their first time. Alec storms in, throwing himself at Magnus. Magnus expresses concern about the pace at which they’re moving, but gives in to temptation pretty quickly. Then they start shuffling towards Magnus’s bedroom door and then that’s it.
The scene cuts to a scene with Luke (Isaiah Mustafa) & Jace (Dominic Sherwood) and the episode ends before ever returning to the Malec sexcapades. If all the couple’s sex scenes on the show were treated with the same chaste censorship, then there would be no real gripe here at all. The reality is, though, that the heterosexual couples were far less censored than Malec when it comes to their intimate scenes.
Take Clary (Katherine McNamara) and Jace’s first time. Their scene begins around the 33.30 mark in episode 14 of season 3. It lasts until about the 35.4o mark. There is very passionate kissing, definite clothing removal, rolling & tumbling. It contains all the elements one would expect of a decent sexcapades scene.
Then, take a look at Simon (Alberto Rosende) and Izzy’s (Emeraude Tobia) first time. They are butt naked on a couch rolling around all tangled up in bedsheets, and each other. This scene leaves nothing to the imagination, and is quite the opposite of what Malec endured.
The morning after scene
There was a lot of backlash to Malec’s first time, for quite a number of reasons. The creators did listen to the fans as they lamented all over the internet. Later in season 2 they filmed a flashback episode of Malec’s first time to attempt to clean up some of the problems.
Initially, fans found Malec’s first time to be problematic because some people felt that it walked a fine line between coercion & consent. Even Cassandra Clare, the author of the book series, threw her hat in the ring and took a stab at the show for this reason. However, fans were also up in arms, just like we were above, about just how censored the initial scene was.
So, they filmed another take of Malec’s first time & their subsequent morning after. This scene was taken from Magnus’s memory and shows the couple barging into Magnus’s room attempting to rip each other’s clothes off. Did it hit the mark? Some say, even after the second attempt, Freeflop still fell short here, leaving the Malec fandom still up in arms.
So what was the criticism? Well, Alec’s shirt comes off as they kiss & throw each other onto the bed but their hot and heavy moment is interrupted by Magnus’s vulnerability again. Magnus remains fully clothed & contact between the couple is halted. The scene ends moments after that.
Then, when Malec wakes up the next morning, there is an ocean of space between them. Initially, for the first seconds of the scene, Malec is somewhat cuddled up together in bed as they wake up. They separate very quickly though, scooting to opposite sides of the bed.
While definitely an improvement on the first attempt of Malec’s first time, this scene still left members of the fandom feeling short-changed.
The morning after Edom
The same criticism can be applied to episode 22 in season 3. When everyone returns from Edom and ends up in bed with their significant other (this is when Simon & Izzy do the deed for the first time), Malec wakes up in bed with enough space for a whole additional person to be slotted between them.
Malec thought they were never going to see each other again. Fans everywhere had a hard time believing that after losing each other the way they did, thinking they wouldn’t see each other ever again, that they would sleep so far apart from each other upon their return to one another.
It was also pointed out repeatedly on Twitter, that in the same episode, the heterosexual couples were afforded scenes where they were sleeping butt naked, all smooshed together. Well, that is, except for Simon & Izzy, who were butt naked, very much awake, and active in each other’s presence. Fans came together online, crying out once again, that the LGBTQ relationship got the short end of the censorship stick. Again.
We’re interested in what you think. As we’re all stuck at home in quarantine rewatching our beloved Shadowhunters again, how do you feel about the censorship applied to the Malec relationship? If we could go back, what would you change? What about if we could go forward? What would you want to see happen differently between these two characters?
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