The Owl House

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

Fourteen-year-old Luz Noceda is a bit different from other kids her age. While other kids are content to put their book reports on paper, Luz reenacts them with action figures and live snakes. And instead of doing backflips for cheerleader tryouts, Luz flips her eyelids inside out.

Luz doesn’t mind being a “weirdo,” but unfortunately, her love of all things strange and fantastical has caused a lot more trouble than it’s worth, especially with her exasperated mother. Hoping to encourage a bit of normalcy in her daughter and with no other options, Luz’s mom arranges for her to go to a “Reality Check” summer camp, hoping that it will help Luz learn the distinction between fantasy and reality.

However, before she can even board the bus, Luz is waylaid by an owl stealing her favorite book. She follows the owl through a mysterious door and finds herself transported to the magical realm of the Boiling Isles.

Reality check? Check reality at the door.

Welcome to the Owl House

The Boiling Isles are full of magical creatures: vampires, griffins and especially, witches. It’s everything Luz ever dreamed of. There’s just one small caveat: The inhabitants here don’t like humans.

Luckily for her, Luz immediately meets Eda, a witch who sells novelty human toys such as googly eyes and retro television sets. She brings Luz to the Owl House (her hideaway from the pressures of modern life, cops and ex-boyfriends) and agrees to train Luz as a witch in exchange for her help. Because in addition to being the most powerful witch on the Boiling Isles, she’s also the most wanted witch.

Much like Luz, Eda doesn’t like conforming to society’s standards. She dropped out of Hexside Academy (the local school of magic and demonics), refused to join a witch coven, befriended a dog-like demon named King and started peddling illegal human items on the black market.

As if all those offenses weren’t enough to land her a one-way ticket to the Conformatorium—a prison where inmates are brainwashed into (you guessed it) conforming—she’s also the victim of a curse that will turn her into an uncontrollable owl-like monster unless she drinks a daily elixir to prevent it.

If Luz wants to achieve her goal of becoming a witch, she’ll not only have to learn how to use magic (something that no other human has ever done before) but how to break Eda’s curse. After all, if Eda permanently turns into an owl monster, nobody else will teach her what she wants to know.

Clearly Not a PG Fantasy World

Luz is at first frightened by the monster-filled world of the Boiling Isles, and it stands to reason that some kiddos will be frightened, too. Some monsters are big. Some are small. Some have fangs and claws. Some have too many eyes, and some don’t seem to have enough. But Luz’s desire to become a witch and finally belong helps her to overcome her fears. And that, of course, comes with its own set of problems.

Luz, Eda and King often team up with other “weirdos” to defeat the dastardly forces that would like to see them conform (or destroyed—they really don’t seem too picky). And though the magic used by Eda is mostly harmless in this show, it still carries the taint of being demonic. (Hexside states quite plainly that it’s a school of demonics and Eda and the other witches bear a distinct resemblance to vampires with their tapered ears and fanged teeth.) Additionally, while King, Eda’s dog-like demon roommate, looks more like a plush toy than a ruler of evil forces, he insists on his own ferociousness and calls himself the “King of Demons”—which feels like it should be treated with more caution than it’s given.

So while The Owl House carries the message that being different is a good thing, it celebrates this fact by going down a rather dark path into a realm of magic that many parents would probably rather their youngsters didn’t explore.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 10, 2020: “A Lying Witch and a Warden”

After accidentally getting transported to a magical realm on her way to summer camp, Luz meets Eda, a witch who needs her help. Luz agrees to help Eda retrieve King’s crown from the devious Warden Wrath in exchange for help getting back home.

Several monsters inhabit the land of the Boiling Isles, including a troll-like creature that enjoys eating its own eyeballs and witches with pointy ears and fangs. Warden Wrath wears a creepy mask with a pointed beak and button eyes throughout most of the episode, and when he removes it, he is revealed to be a fire-breathing monster with lots of large, sharp teeth.

Eda flies on her staff like a broomstick. She uses her magic to light fires, fight Warden Wrath and create portals to other worlds and places. She is also able to remove parts of her body without dying or even bleeding (at one point, her head is cut off and later reattached). Warden Wrath can morph his hands into hammers and scythes, which he uses to smash and slice things. We also see mysterious flashes of light and items moving on their own because of magic.

Several characters are beaten up with magic and brute force. One character is blown up (offscreen) with fireworks.

People are attacked by snakes. Luz creates a taxidermized “griffin” using the bodies of a pigeon and a squirrel and filling the mouth with live spiders. In a school play, she uses real animal guts to make her character’s death more realistic. She also flips her eyelids inside out to gross out her classmates. King talks about drinking the tears “of those who mocked us.”

A prisoner at the Conformatorium shows a drawing of two characters from her fanfiction work lovingly embracing. Another prisoner spews her conspiracy theory about being “playthings for a high being.” Someone blows a raspberry in Warden Wrath’s face.

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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