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It's far from uncommon for audiences and critics to hold differing opinions on the quality of any given piece of media. From the television show that lasts for seven seasons despite mediocre reviews to the action blockbuster that cleans up at the box office even while being lambasted by critics, there are clearly times when a consensus among critics doesn't translate to the audience itself. Netflix's The Witcher, starring Henry Cavill, is only the most recent significant example of this.
The Witcher's first season was incredibly popular, at least among the general public. Fans are still talking about it even a couple weeks after most of the audience has already binged through it, possibly more than once. Critics, however, were less than thrilled. While Season 1 has more positive than negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, few of the positive reviews were quite as glowing as most of the audience responses. So why do fans love The Witcher so much? Here are a few of the reasons.
Henry Cavil's Stoic Geralt Of Rivia
Henry Cavill got mixed reviews for his role as Superman in the DC Universe. The character was much more self-serious than many fans wanted from their Man of Steel. It may not have worked perfectly for Superman, but that same ability to say more with a look than with a word works perfectly for Geralt of Rivia. He's a man who has found his place in the world, and yet belongs nowhere. It gives him a quality of mystery that makes fans want to keep watching in order to learn more. Also he looks really good with his shirt off.
Many in North America know the character of Geralt best from the Witcher video game series, which presents him in much the same way, a man of action, not words, so this feels familiar and comfortable. Cavill is just as good at this sort of character, making him appealing while still not smoothing out the rough edges. The fact that he looks good with long white hair certainly doesn't hurt.
The Witcher's Mystery Of Time
At a time when serialized storytelling is no longer the exception but the rule in TV, every show is trying to find a way to keep an audience engaged. Many different methods have been tried, but The Witcher's solution, a story that follows as many as three different characters through time, but asynchronously, appears to have worked for a lot of people.
The series doesn't even make a point of making any of its mechanics clear. It's left for the viewer to discover. While many critics took issue with this, and some might have found it a tad confusing, it looks like audiences enjoyed the game of trying to figure out how everything fit together, how the actions of one character might affect another later in time, and how it was all going to eventually come together in the end. It's these sorts of conversations that light up social media which is a great way for any modern show to build an audience.
Jaskier / "Toss A Coin To Your Witcher"'
If you're reading this list, not because you've seen The Witcher, but instead because you're trying to figure out why everybody else is talking about it, you've likely still been subjected to the dulcet tones of "Toss a Coin To Your Witcher," the in-universe song about Geralt, created by the bard, Jaskier. It's the stuff of memes, but more importantly, it's an incredibly catchy tune.
It's the kind of song that you can't quite get out of your head, and what's more, it might be the sort of song you don't mind having stuck there (I might be listening to it on a loop while I write this). And while some critics found Jaskier the bard to be more on the annoying side, based on what I've seen on social media, the fans pretty much love him, and were delighted when the character continued to show up throughout the first season. And yes, the 'shippers are all over Jaskier and Geralt too. That might not be the reason the majority of the audience loved The Witcher, but it certainly helped for some.
The Fight Choreography Is Amazing
You can't have a fantasy action series without both swords and sorcery, and The Witcher has both in large measure. But beyond simply having swords, the series has some quality action sequences that show that care was taken to make them not just acceptable, but good.
The difference between a well choreographed and well filmed sword fight, and anything else, is night and day. You have to have both because it doesn't matter how well the actors learn the moves if it's not filmed in a way that lets the audience appreciate it. The Witcher does both, which makes the action not just exciting to watch but also satisfying.
Yennefer... Just All Of Yennefer
There's a lot to love about a lot of The Witcher's characters, but a lot of that love is saved for one woman, Anya Chalotra's Yennefer of Vengerberg. She essentially plays two different characters throughout the course of Season 1. For the first half of the season she's an outcast for her deformed appearance desperate to learn magic in order to gain the power it provides. Then, after her transformation, she has all the power she ever dreamed of, and yet is still looking for what she's missing.
There's so much to love about Yennefer. Whether it's her vulnerability, combined with an excellent makeup and prosthetics job, or her abilities and confidence later, the fact is that Yennefer is never a woman without power, she simply doesn't realize how much she has. Her relationship with Geralt is complicated to say the least, but that's what makes it so interesting.
Honestly, there are about as many reasons that fans love The Witcher as there are fans that love it, and there certainly are plenty of them. Season 2 has already been greenlit, but it's going to be at least another year before we see it. Certainly, while that's going to feel far too long for these fans, expect all of them to be right back on Netflix the day that Season 2 premieres.