Comic-Con@Home: Harry Shum Jr. talks Magnus Bane, representation of the queer experience on Shadowhunters

Photo credit: John Medland / Freeform, acquired from Freeform Press Site
Photo credit: John Medland / Freeform, acquired from Freeform Press Site /

Harry Shum Jr. talks Shadowhunters during Comic-Con@Home panel

Shadowhunters‘s Harry Shum Jr. joined other actors and actresses to talk about LGBTQ representation in TV during Comic-Con@Home.

While many television panels at Comic-Con are made up of casts from the same series, the “LGBTQ Characters on Television—What’s Next?” panel brought eight actors from seven different series together. As part of Thursday’s Comic-Con@Home virtual panel line-up, the informative discussion focused on current representation of the queer experience on screen and asked what the next steps are needed in the industry to further improve intersectional representation both on screen and behind the camera.

Moderated by Jim Halterman from TV Guide Magazine, the panel included Jamie Chung from Once Upon A Time, Jamie Clayton from Roswell: New Mexico, Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp from Star Trek: Discovery, Tatiana Maslany from Perry Mason, J. August Richards from Council of Dads, Harry Shum, Jr. from Shadowhunters, and Brian Michael Smith from 9-1-1: Lone Star.

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We’ve followed the popular fantasy drama series Shadowhunters and its passionate fans for several years, and it was interesting to hear more from Harry Shum Jr. about the conscious decisions behind the scenes that went into developing Magnus Bane’s characterization and rationales—and why the quiet, domestic moments were just as important to have on screen even in a fantasy world. When asked about whether he had conversations about how Magnus Bane’s sexuality would be represented and what kinds of relationships audiences would see him have on the series, Shum confirmed that those discussions absolutely took place.

“What was important for a lot of people was the relationship for my character Magnus and Alec, and making sure that that is not watered down, that is not taken to a place where it’s just ‘TV friendly’,” he shared. He explained that though it’s a fictitious universe, the Shadow World is representative of our world today and was still conservative in many ways. With Magnus and Alec’s relationship, it was important to Shum to “really go there and be able to have conversations about sexuality, and also how it’s being taken in this Shadow World.”

Watch the full panel from Comic-Con@Home 2020 below

Harry Shum Jr. went on to say that for him, what was most important outside of just doing the best job possible portraying the character was making sure that Magnus’s storyline and on-screen decisions helped to work against stereotypes he said “are had towards, specifically, bisexual characters.” One example he gave was how he and the showrunners purposefully handled the relationship between Magnus and his ex-girlfriend Camille, making it clear that Magnus would remain loyal to Alec.

Shum also commented on how the smaller moments on Shadowhunters that weren’t necessarily filled with action sequences or drama were just as important for Magnus, as well as representation of the queer experience from multiple characters across the whole series. “Even a couple being domesticated on television in a weird sci-fi fantasy world that, you know, some people don’t get to see much… We definitely had those conversations, and I was very fortunate to be able to learn a lot as well in the process.”

Next. The New Mutants cast reunites for Comic-Con@Home Panel. dark

Comic-Con@Home is completely virtual this year and panels are easily accessible on YouTube. Check back with Hidden Remote for more news and information about SDCC over the course of the weekend! Do you have another panel you’re looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments below!