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REVIEW: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

By Mattie Fitzpatrick | February 19, 2024

Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series and Executive Producer of the TV show, at the Javits Convention Center in New York City in 2018.

Credit: Rhododendrites / Wikimedia Commons

Creating an adaptation to a beloved adaptation is no small feat and the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” TV Show is no exception. It has the Herculean task of trying to live up to the beloved children’s book with characters that have grown up with readers and while the TV show is trying to appeal to a new audience it also faces trying to appease the ones who grew up with it. 

The cinematography of this show is gorgeous and each camera angle is made with the intention of furthering the story. Rick Riordan, the author of the original books, had a hand in every step of this show and it’s incredibly clear just from watching because of the incredible thought that was put into every costume, dialogue, and angle. The sets are fantastic as well, Camp Half Blood has the capacity to grow with the show in future seasons but is still a dream for fans. Percy and Sally’s cabin on the beach is incredibly charming with its stained glass windows. It’s not hard to believe a god and a woman fell in love there. 

Percy, Annabeth, and Grover are further fleshed out as characters with their experiences shaping them in the world each one of them derives from. Percy was raised by his mother and kept out of reach of the Gods so he’s kind, loyal and incredibly compassionate while Annabeth is (at first) cutthroat and calculating, she becomes more like Percy as the show continues. She declares that she doesn’t want to be like the Gods despite idolizing them her entire life, which adds self-awareness and depth to her character. She isn’t perfect and she has the ability to grow. 

Grover is shown to have a capacity for manipulation in his interaction with Ares and a desperation to become a searcher which leads him to some precarious circumstances. Regardless, the original essence of his character is kept at heart and even built upon with moments like the consensus song and his betrayal to Percy at the beginning. 

The sets and diversity of this cast is, of course, unmatched. Rick Riordan always has incredible diversity in his books and he did not disappoint with this series either. Looking at all of the demigods of Camp Half Blood is surreal because it is authentic to the book and it’s a true reflection of the world. Love doesn’t discriminate and neither do Greek gods. Those cast in their roles did a great job portraying the character and I am forever jealous that Rick Riordan dedicated a book to them.

Many of the changes made in the show bring a new perspective either to the characters, plot or provide an update to the story. Notable changes from the book include Percy’s knowledge of Greek Mythology, the limits of demigods when they were able to speak Greek, the repetitiveness of the names of the ethereal creatures, and the change in the characters of Medusa and Hades. 

Medusa is humanized greatly in the show and her parallel to Annabeth serves as not only great writing but a cautionary tale about the fickleness of the Gods. It provides a new perspective to Medusa for the audience and of course, provides a new perspective to Annabeth about her mother whom she idolized before this moment. Jessica Parker Kennedy is made to look ethereal in this role as Medusa and the change from villain to a victim with incredible depth is one of the best made in the show.  

Hades’ character change is another that is made for the best. Shown to be cold and calculating in the book, Hades is given a more forgiving portrayal in the show showing Riordan’s perspective change from writing the first book, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, in 2005. Hades is instead a protective, cool and understanding figure who offers protection to Percy, Grover and Sally. Although he does originally keep Sally as house decor in his living room which is both funny and heartbreaking, he’s shown to be a much different character than he once was, understanding and accepting of his position as God of the Underworld.

The meeting between Poseidon and Sally as Sally is dropping Percy off from school is a welcomed change as well. It shows the love and care between two characters who rarely interact in person but whose relationship shadows the series. Great attention to detail was taken to make this moment fit with the already established rules of the show surrounding offerings and it makes their relationship all the more important and meaningful. It’s a fantastic addition especially since their on-screen relationship is limited in the show but they still care for each other more than could be put into words. 

Although fans appear to be torn over the changes made between the book series and the TV show, Riordan used this opportunity to further develop the story and fill in plot holes in the original source material. It was not intended to be a shot for shot remake of the book, and it’s not. One thing that certainly shines through are the great intentions of the cast, crew and Riordan as he shows his established writing prowess.

No matter your opinion of the show, it’s undeniable that an enormous amount of care was had in creating everything – including the casting and the setting. The changes made were intentional and were certainly given great thought. Despite the changes, it was great to see this story come to life on the screen and I’m looking forward to the second season. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” can be watched on Disney Plus.


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