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The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

New but nostalgic: Why the Percy Jackson Disney+ series is worth watching

Art by Johanna Wen
Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood make up the main trio of the Disney+ adaptation. The series was released on Dec. 19, 2023.

Unlike Percy Jackson, I wanted to be a half-blood.

To me, his warning about it being dangerous and scary was worth it if it meant a cool, powerful talent passed down from a Greek god. Worth it if it meant soaring through the air hugging the back of a pegasus or diving into the depths of the sea gripping the scales of a hippocampus. Worth it if it meant claiming victory in an intense capture the flag game at Camp Half-Blood.

Spoiler alert: I’m not a half-blood. But, even though my 9-year-old self was a bit disappointed by that fact, it didn’t make me love the Percy Jackson book series any less.

So when the first two episodes of the Disney+ adaptation premiered on Dec. 19, 2023, I was eager to spend winter break watching it. It wrapped up with the eighth and final episode airing on Jan. 30, 2024, leaving me impressed, satisfied and not the least bit disappointed.

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I would even go as far to say it compensated for the movies released in the 2010s, which were mediocre – and that’s being generous. They didn’t exactly set the bar high, so I was glad to see the series take on a different approach that stayed true to the original books.

The biggest difference between the movies and the series that I greatly appreciated was the casting. I’m not at all saying that the main cast of the movies wasn’t talented. They are, but what I specifically like about the casting this time around is that the actors are kids. Which, you’d think would be a no brainer considering the three main characters are young teens. But the movies had 17-year-old Logan Lerman playing Percy Jackson, 23-year-old Alexandra Daddario playing Annabeth Chase, and 25-year-old Brandon T. Jackson playing Grover Underwood. That’s a pretty big leap from the much younger trio I read about in the books.

Under the author of the books Rick Riordan’s instruction, the series lessened that age gap: 13-year-old Walker Scobell played Percy, 12-year-old Leah Sava Jeffries played Annabeth and 16-year-old Aryan Simhadri played Grover. Having actual kids act in the show really made a difference. Maybe they didn’t have as experienced or polished acting, but I think that’s what made it better. It gave a sense of lightheartedness and fun, and this new approach elicited a feeling of nostalgia that was lacking in the movies.

Another aspect of the casting I loved was Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hermes. I really admire Miranda for all of his work, so I was beyond excited when I discovered he would have a role in the show. And not just any role, but one that fit perfectly, too. Hermes is the god of many things, but most notably thieves and travel. He has a mischievous and cheeky side to him, but is good at donning a mask of innocence. He also seems to be relaxed, never taking himself too seriously. Miranda flawlessly translates these qualities through the screen, making Hermes one of my favorite characters simply because of how well-portrayed he was.

The casting was definitely spot-on, but another thing worth noting is the development of each character.

The obvious one is Percy. He starts off as a troubled kid, with challenges including dyslexia and ADHD thrusted upon him. Because of these differences, he finds it hard to fit in, often feeling isolated. However, when it is revealed that he is a son of Poseidon, he begins to be more comfortable with who he is. He switches his focus from previous difficulties to new ones like Minotaurs and Fates. In doing so, we see his confident and more genuine side flourish.

Also, his pure and protective intentions are a testament to how devoted he really is towards his friends and family and this loyalty grows as the series progresses. It highlights his empathy, which grows as the quest goes on.

A quest that wouldn’t have been possible without his friends, Annabeth and Grover, who can also claim such a remarkable character arc.

Annabeth is the brains of their operation. Rightfully so, since she is the daughter of Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy. She is quick on her feet while also staying very aware, observing her surroundings in a precise, methodical way. This mental acuity was undeniably essential in their journey to find and return Zeus’s lightning bolt.

However, Annabeth first appeared as very prideful, even arrogant. She wasn’t necessarily rude, but it was clear she thought her way was the only option. As she becomes closer with her friends, though, she learns she doesn’t have to rely only on herself. She can lean on them as well, and this realization transforms her into an even stronger demigod than she was to begin with.

As for Grover, I initially viewed him as contributing the least vital role in completing the quest. He seemed kind and friendly, but those traits don’t exactly help when fleeing from monsters. However, I soon realized that I was wrong. His gentle and cheerful attitude, trademark qualities of satyrs, kept the group together even amidst tense disagreements.

The traits and developments of these three characters blended well together, making them an entertaining and balanced trio. Even though they weren’t new characters, they were portrayed in such a way that added something fresh while also remaining authentic to the books.

The same thing is true about the plot, which didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Despite it being adapted from the books, which I’ve read multiple times, I wasn’t bored while I was watching it. The story unfolded in a creative, captivating way that was very engaging.

Watching this series rekindled my younger self’s love for the world of Percy Jackson. The casting, characters and plot were perfect and combined to bring suspense, excitement, and nostalgia to the screen.

It brought me back to when I was 9-years-old, hoping to be a half-blood.

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  • I

    Irene ZhengFeb 15, 2024 at 12:00 pm

    Love the review, makes me want to watch the show now!

  • M

    Marina MartinezFeb 12, 2024 at 10:16 am

    Great review Grace! I loved the series, it was very fun and exciting to watch.