'A Discovery of Witches' is terrible and I love it

When I saw that the third season of A Discovery of Witches was going to premiere in January, I shrieked with joy because it could have shattered glass.

Deborah Harkness is the author of the All Souls trilogy. Diana Bishop (a witch played by Teresa Palmer) and Matthew Clairmont (a vampire played by Matthew Goode) are back from olden times ready to find and repair a missing manuscript to defeat their bigoted enemies.

The books and show adaptation have an incredibly nerdy appeal due to Harkness' academic background, and the event that starts the supernatural drama is the character checking a book out of the Bodleian library in Oxford. Diana Bishop is a historian of science and witchenial-in-denial doing a visiting professorship at Oxford. Matthew Clairmont is a rich and handsome vampire who has recently been using his eternal life to publish a bunch of scientific papers.

Anyone have a fan handy?

The trilogy is a page-turner that is fun to read because it is in a world of witches, vampire, demons, and secrets. The mystery and romance, and the academic setting with many references to actual historical figures and events that play into the plot, made the series catnip for bookish millennials like me. In book two, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to Elizabethan London, and you can tell that Harkness is playing out a personal fantasy of being plopped into this time of creativity and discovery.

The series has a lot of source material to work with. It's part of what makes it great and terrible at the same time. Delightfully dorky details from the books are sometimes sacrificed for plot momentum, which detracts from the playful magic that propels the books. The series sets a very dramatic tone that fails to impress.

Diana Bishop (played by Teresa Palmer) and Matthew Clairmont (played by Matthew Goode) are two of our heroes. I had a hard time believing that Palmer was a tenured professor at Yale and a visiting lecturer at Oxford at the age of 31 when she first took on the role.

If this gal really took zero time between college and grad school, and then got immediately snapped up by Yale because she was so brilliant, the math of stacking up this resume after a 5-8 year PhD program makes sense. I mean... Diana from the books was a bit older and less beautiful than Palmer. Bookish brunettes should have vampire lovers as well. Television casting of female leads, what can be done?

There's also a vampire named Matthew. Goode is charming in most things he does. Matthew and Diana were courting in the first season. Their chemistry was fun at this point. There was sexual tension and it was really cold out in the boathouse scene.

As the relationship progressed, there became less playful. Matthew's intense, bulgy-eyed intensity is just pretty GAH. Matt, calm down! Drink some blood and give Diana an orgasm.

The chemistry between the leads has completely broken down, and it's made their relationship a bit laughable and shaky for the whole show. Everything is very serious.

We can't blame them. Diana and Matt are under a lot of pressure because of the vampire on the loose, the governing body of witches, Vampires, and demons breathing down their throats for their forbidden love, and the twins on the way. Every conversation between these two takes place at either a yell or whisper. Diana has become the Titanic "It's been 84 years..." meme despite having a hot vampire husband.

And yet! I like it. I'm a fan of the books, so it's nice to see them on screen. I would love to spend an hour per week descending into a world in which witches are slightly quirky matriarchs, demons are the creative geniuses that enrich us all, and vampire are sophisticated academics. This world is amazing.

There is a mystery surrounding a centuries-old manuscript in a library. The disciplines of literature and science are connected by supernatural beings. You had me at "The Bodleian".
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The show adds to the books with its side characters. Give me more of vampire and former American Revolutionary War medic Marcus with his charismatic human girlfriend, auction house art expert Phoebe Taylor, for goodness sake! The show gives us the chance to get to know Satu, instead of just seeing her as an evil foe.

Modern details and side plots keep the show fresh. A forum for troubled demons to connect with each other is a smart answer to the plotline of increasing mental illness for the creative creatures. A high-tech lab dedicated to decoding vampire, witch, and demon DNA to find out what makes them have powers is intriguing. Matthew drives off in his car? I die.

Even if the acting is terrible and the plot is a bit much, this show is still enough to keep me watching for the final season. Matt and Diana, I'm rooting for you!

You can find A Discovery of Witches on AMC+ or Amazon.