I know I’m not alone in disbelief that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is meant to be the long awaited Book 8.
Spoilers will be present in this post so beware. (Though, let’s be honest, tumblr has already spoiled the lot of it.) Also, I have not watched the stage production, and so there may be subtleties and character traits that I can’t judge because they are in the way the actors portray their characters. That said, Cursed Child was published as script only, and therefore it’s valid to subject to scrutiny as text alone.
1. Missing characters.
Where’s Teddy? Victoire? Why is McGonagall around but not Flitwick or Neville? Harry is Teddy’s godfather for crying out loud. Knowing the impact Sirius had on his own life, and especially seeing as Teddy has no parents, wouldn’t Harry be heavily involved in his life?
Admittedly, I’m willing to forgive this because of the limitations of a stage production. But this problem is just the tip of the iceberg.
2. Characters missing character.
While Cursed Child does a better job with Ginny and Draco’s character than the movies did, and the new leads are spot on, it does a poor job with almost everyone else. I would have loved interaction between the Potter siblings, because as a person with siblings, I know the only people who truly understand what it’s like to have your parents are your siblings.
I’m fairly disappointed with the handling of our core trio, particularly Ron. I just felt like he was used for comic relief. Albus mentions he’s more of a family man, but he doesn’t even interact with his daughter!
As for Hermione, while I totally believe she would micromanage the Ministry, she came off as really panicked and unprepared, which isn’t like her at all.
Surprisingly, I’m okay with most of what happens with Harry. I can believe he’s having trouble parenting, and I believe he’s having trouble with his son. It makes sense. But something about him seems missing. Is it the sass? Is it the lack of conviction? I’m not sure, but he just isn’t Harry.
3. In an alternate universe, how the hell does Ron marry Padma?
There are a lot of leaps in logic when the alternate universes generated by Albus and Scorpius. Some of these alterations make sense, like the underground rebellion run by Snape, Hermione, and Ron.
But Cedric the Death Eater? Ron married to Padma? Hermione the evil professor? In many cases, I feel like these changes were made to shock more than follow a logical progression of events.
Ron married to Padma is very near the top of this list because Ron was never attracted to Padma, and Ron, as evidenced by Half Blood Prince, can’t help but fall in love with Hermione. And yeah, they make a point that Ron is still in love with her, but marries to Padma really really doesn’t make sense.
4. Queerbaiting AND Pandering
Who do I ship? Scorose? Scorbus? Why is this such a dilemma?
Granted, Rowling never even hinted at the romance of the next generation, the fandom just sort of took them and went wild.
But it is not cool to have Scorpius physically display attraction towards Rose (albeit rather sincerely), but emotionally be attached to Albus. What I mean by this is Scorpius does all the stereotypical things a shy boy does when he likes a girl: he tries and fails to talk to her, he tries and fails to ask her out. And I can see fans getting excited over this…thete are plenty if Scorose fanfics out there to suggest support for this ship.
But by any other means, Scorpius is in a deep relationship with Albus. He tells him his problems, he relies on him, he is irrevocably broken when they are separated. And then they end the play as friends. And I completely believe that people can be soulmates without being romantically involved. But something about the way Albus and Scorpius interacted felt inherently romantic to me. Contrasting that with how Scorpius acts with Rose, I find it hard to believe he likes her romantically at all.
I’ve seen the interpretation that Scorpius is only showing an interest in Rose to avoid coming out of the closet to a world that already gossips about him. And if that’s the case, I would genuinely be surprised by that level of nuance.
5. Voldemort + Bellatrix = Baby
I can’t get that (rather disturbing) image out of my head. This pairing made sense in Starkid, where they are parodying the series. But would canon Voldemort have a baby with Bellatrix? Merlin’s beard, no.
Canon Bellatrix fears Voldemort just as much as she adores and respects him. I think she would be shocked by the idea of getting it on with him, perhaps even terrified. On the other hand, Voldemort hates himself for being a half blood, and wouldn’t dare have a child since by his hand, a mixed blood child would be produced. Furthermore, we all know what Voldy feels about family (i.e. nothing) and he was always concerned with living forever. Who needs heirs when you rule until the world ends?
Again, the defense theory of this is that Voldemort was planning to turn Dephi into a horcrux, as the time of her supposed conception lines up with Voldemort discovering that Harry is destroying horcruxes. I doubt this for several reasons… One of them being that it is much easier to kill a man than destroy a posessed inanimate object. Then there’s the fact that Tom Riddle chose important artifacts for his horcruxes, and Voldemort is so far from a loving father figure to think his child is a worthy horcrux. Nope, the whole concept of Dephi is dumb.
6. There’s no sense of real risk.
Nothing that the protagonists do is particularly…dangerous. And I realize how stupid that sounds since they almost die a few times, but hear me out.
The Ministry has previously been broken into via polyjuice potion, so we know it works, decreasing the risk levels dramatically. This is furthered by the ease of Hermione’s riddles (seriously, I answered them as soon as I read them).
And besides, the stakes aren’t high until the end of Part 1. Later on in this post, I’ll talk about how the time travelling bothers me in a plot device way more than an actual conflict, but as Harry points out, when he was a kid, he had adventures because the danger was thrown at him, not because he was seeking it out.
And the reason Albus ends up in trouble could have easily been avoided: just don’t try to help a crazy old man. If Voldemort taught the wizarding world anything, messing with death is just as dangerous as messing with time. And then Albus does the stupid thing and messes with BOTH.
7. It reads like fanfiction.
I’ve written quite a few posts about books sounding like fanfiction as a way of describing the unpolished writing and poor storytelling.
This is sort of a combination of all the points of this list–the missing characters, the poor characterization, the pandering and shipping, the messy pointless conflict. But the sum of this is definitely greater than it’s parts, because one or two of these is easy to forgive–all of it is absolutely irritating.
8. Starkid did it better.
The number of parallels between Curse Child and A Very Potter Musical/Sequel/Senior Year is absolutely astonishing:
- The villain goes back in time to bring back Voldemort
- Harry Potter is a jerk has-been celebrity
- Evil trolley cart lady
- The running joke of Ron stuffing his face
- Voldy/Trixie love affair
- Questioning Malfoy parentage
- Potter/Malfoy duel
- Draco saves the day with his father’s time-turner
And the funny thing is, it makes total sense in Starkid, but is eyeroll inducing in Cursed Child. And it’s not even a double standard–we accept it in Starkid because its meant to be a parody, a joke. Cursed Child asks us to take these jokes as serious concerns, and it just doesn’t work.
9. That’s not how time-turners work!
What made the timer-turner amazing in Prisoner of Azkaban was that the Harry and Hermione that had gone back in time weren’t future Harry and Hermione going back in time to fix stuff… They were Harry and Hermione doing stuff that had already happened. Harry and Sirius wouldn’t have survived the dementors if Harry hadn’t performed the Patronus. Notably, Harry doesn’t do this until he travels back in time, meaning that the timeline is set–he was always there, even if he hadn’t time travelled yet. This establishes pretty well that the Harry Potter universe follows a predetermined timeline. If a person uses a time-turner tomorrow to mess shit up three days ago, you better believe it already happened to you.
This is how Harry in the infinitely better fanfiction, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, is able to perform pranks with his time turner. The future him going back in time is already present, their actions already taking effect. Starkid also respects this rule, with past time travelling Harry convincing a drunk Snape to save past Harry.
This means Scorpius and Albus going back in time should have changed…nothing. Because if Cursed Child was supposed to be canon, then it should agree with the established canon. So if they go back to the Triwizard tournament, nothing would change.
Technically, there is a very large loop hole (as there always is with time travel) that since Albus and Scorpius fix the timeline, the canon remains intact and they just had a crazy and horrible adventure in a bubble of time. Which leads to my final point…
10. This contributes nothing to canon.
Yes, we have a four act play that tells the story about the next generation. Yes, we have, what I assume based on the reviews and stage directions, a massive feat in effects in theatre production.
But by the end of it, what do we get that Rowling hasn’t already shared? We know what happens to the gang thanks to interciews and Pottermore. While I’m thrilled about the friendship between Albus and Scorpius, the state of the general wizarding world is barely touched on.
Which begs the question, what was the point? An unnecessary bad parent redemption character arc for Harry Potter? A fun AU story? The very unnecessary and scarring image of Bellatrix Lestrange giving birth?
Why is this canon?
I can only come to the conclusion that the rave reviews of Cursed Child are because of its affect as a theatre production and not because of it’s qualities as a compelling continuation of the Harry Potter story.
But you tell me. Do you consider Cursed Child as canon? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!