A New Percy Jackson, Version 3.0


Morgan Sirek

The newest adaptation of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series, an 8-part TV show, aired from December 19 to January 30.

“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood.”

These are the first words readers read from Percy Jackson, the titular character of the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” book series. Author Rick Riordan aims to finally create the Percy Jackson series he and the readers have always envisioned, in its current third adaptation. The world where half-bloods—kids who are half human and half Greek god—go on killer heroes’ quests to save the world, now blossoms onto our TV screens.

Even with its outlandish premise, the Percy Jackson series has resonated with many readers, regardless of age or nationality. Percy is witty, funny, and relatable, and the supporting characters of Annabeth and Grover are relevant and multi-dimensional. Percy faces common challenges: not fitting in, having ADHD and dyslexia, and losing a parent.

For many students, Percy Jackson became part of their lives in Middle School. Freshman Stella Tate Ricciardi-Fitzpatrick said, “It was my escape, and it got me into reading again.” Many readers worldwide share this sentiment.

This TV show adaptation follows two movies and a musical. The movies, starring Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, and Brandon T. Jackson, were not huge hits. The 2010s visual aesthetics have not held up, and the story was so far off from the original that Rick Riordan himself goes out of his way to encourage readers to not watch the movies. The only notable positive aspects of the movies are the actors’ performances and an “iconic” scene of the trio escaping Medusa’s glare with an iPod.

“First of all, it’s inaccurate to the books. Second, it’s inaccurate to Greek mythology,” sophomore Izzy Schafer said about the movies.

Similarly, Stella Tate said, “It just wasn’t accurate to the books because they changed literally everything. They took out the climax of the book. They just rearranged the plot completely, and it sucks.”

The musical, the lesser-known adaptation among fans, has been endorsed by Riordan. It stars Chris McCarrell, Kristin Stokes, and George Salazar. With music by Rob Rokicki and a book by Joe Tracz, this rock musical is full of catchy songs and great acting—and given the limited budget and cast, it is a wonderful adaptation.

Izzy gave some reasons why the musical is so great. She said, “First of all, the music is just fantastic, but I also think that the people who wrote the music so clearly understood the characters.” She added, “The fact that the main character has his ‘I want’ song, and then at the end of the show, the villain has a different version of the hero’s ‘I want’ song—as someone who’s very into musicals and writing, it is such brilliant storytelling to have this, because they are foils of each other, but they have at their core the same motivation, so to have them be the opposite of each other is just such brilliant writing.”

One of the strong points of the series so far has been the casting. Walker Scobell, who plays Percy, has been a longtime fan of the series, and he brings Percy’s humor to life with his performance.

Sophomore Carolena Tognarelli said, “He just radiates Percy energy, you know?”

Leah Sava Jeffries, who plays Annabeth Chase, is the epitome of her character. She paints a vivid portrayal of Annabeth, and her performance has won her a nomination for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Performance by a Youth. Aryan Simhadri, who plays Grover, brings all of the book Grover’s energy while also injecting a humor akin to the Grover of the musical. The three of them together have an infectious chemistry that shines.

One of Izzy’s favorite parts of the show was the casting. However, there was initially some controversy surrounding the cast. When the actors were first announced, Jeffries received backlash, as Annabeth is not described as being Black in the books.

Izzy said, “I know a lot of people were mad about it, that’s not how the characters were described, that’s not what they look like—ok, I don’t care. To me, it doesn’t matter what the characters look like as long as they encapsulate the character, and oh my god, Walker, Leah, and Aryan, they are their characters.”

A major criticism of the show is its accuracy to the books. The show was initially pitched to audiences as being a faithful adaptation of the books and is leaving many disappointed and frustrated. While much of the plot is the same, there have been details, and in some cases, very large plot points, changed.

Stella Tate said, “I think what the author’s doing with the series is kind of editing it because it’s been almost 20 years since the book came out the first time, so he’s editing it to be a bit different than the book.”

Beyond the main trio, other stand-out actors include Charlie Bushnell, who plays Luke, Dior Goodjohn, who plays Clarisse, and Virginia Kull, who plays Sally Jackson. Bushnell brings Luke’s charisma, kindness, and companionship to the adaptation’s Camp Half-Blood, and has new and old readers alike rooting for him. Dior Goodjohn is incredible in this series. Though Clarisse has not had much screen time, all of her moments have been memorable—and she’s leaving fans, including me, excited for future seasons. Lastly, Virginia Kull is stunning as Sally Jackson. The moments between her and Percy are so natural, and she captures the complex emotions of being the mother of a demigod child.

Every fan has their favorite—or top few favorite—episodes. Stella Tate’s was episode six. “I loved the Lotus Hotel and Casino, because a lot of the fans who have read all of the books noticed things like Bianca and the two kids in purple shirts running behind Percy and Annabeth, and there were a lot of cameos in that episode,” she said.

However, it has been noted that the show has issues with pacing. Some sections of episodes drag on—and some feel glossed over too quickly. This pacing problem, coupled with shorter run times of 30-45 minutes per episode and cliffhangers at the end of every episode, leaves fans feeling unsatisfied. These pacing problems have certainly been noticeable for me—and sometimes, I feel like I’ve been watching for 20 minutes and nothing has happened.

Despite all of the changes, this series means so much to so many people. “When the first teaser came out, with the ‘Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood’ and Walker in the rain, I cried,” Izzy said. “I literally cried when I first saw the thing. This was my childhood, and I remember I was in seventh grade when they announced that the TV show was going to be made, and seeing it—really seeing it—my little childhood heart got so happy. Every time I watch it, my inner child is healed.”

Not everyone grew up with these books. The show is attracting new readers, including me. Carolena said, “I never read the books. You know people who say read the book before you watch the movie. I figured I could watch the movie and then read the book and see how they compare.”

For older readers, this new invigoration of Percy Jackson is very welcome. “I think it’s so fun to see a new generation of kids loving the book series like I did,” Izzy said.

There are many other strengths to the show—the graphics, the score, other actors. Whether you are a fan or not, it seems that the consensus is that the show is definitely worth a watch. The finale episode aired on Tuesday, January 30 on Disney Plus.

This is a dam good show (if you know, you know).