The best Harry Potter parodies find ways to expand on the original stories
Parodies are usually loaded with jokes first and foremost. Many of modern culture’s most famous rely on easy references to poke fun at a famous storyline, but there’s something unique about the way some Harry Potter parodies find a way to be more than just jokes at the expense of their source material. The best Potter parodies don’t just comment on the original series, but they also prove surprisingly additive to the series, creating new riffs on the original stories that expand the wizarding world in new, effective, and often subversive ways.
By its very nature, parody is often defined as a silly approach with a serious tone. Some – like movies are creatively derived from movies like Plane and The naked gun — take a dramatic genre and give it a cartoonish edge. Others – like many works by Mel Brooks like Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles – approach favorite movie styles with a sharp, sardonic edge. Meanwhile, some of the best modern parodies – like Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy or the Popstar: never stop, never stop – function as comedic versions of their source material while still being good examples of these genres.
As with any popular franchise, many parodies poke fun at the Harry Potter series, which has become a pop culture institution across the world, but the most memorable – aside from being some of the funniest – are those that don’t just subvert the source material, becoming additive in their own way. A very Harry Potter musical by theater group StarKid Productions – currently available on their YouTube page – was a college show that compressed the entire series into a single two-act musical.
While it took this opportunity to poke fun at the sprawling elements of the original story, it also provided greater depth to many of the characters. Hermione and Ron’s romance became a real storyline instead of a lengthy subplot, and Ginny’s largely unfocused character growth happened in the center of the play rather than on the fringes. Most notably, the villainous Voldemort and one-note Professor Quirrell received a formal friendship that fleshed them out considerably.
Meanwhile, Wizards, dear reader by Brad Neely (a veteran of South Park and the main creation on China, IT) can also be found on YouTube, and it is nominally an “audiobook” for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In Neely’s story, however, the magic was much more dangerous and almost an ethereal element, and the actors were changed to be more ridiculous and skilled. The story turned Harry into a powerhouse compared to even other wizards, and Ron was the most combative and confident “Ronnie the Bear”, resolving some criticism of canon characters by playing up the elements of magical adventure series.
Then there is Puffs, or: seven increasingly eventful years in a certain school of magic and magicanother theatrical parody of Harry Potter series (which was filmed live and is available on Amazon Prime and iTunes). It was a reimagining of the canon plot but entirely from the perspective of Hufflepuff students. The cast reacted to the show’s increasingly dark tone with a harsher side, with several central characters being killed off at the end of the story. Puffs immersed in the realities of being one of the random students at a school often defined by the actions of a “chosen one”. The story also openly tackled a character struggling with his family heritage and better impulses, with a more succinct plot for Megan Jones than Draco Malfoy ever had.
20’s size Misfits and Magic role-playing campaign – which is now available via the Dropout streaming platform – also focused on a Harry Potter-inspired wizarding world, where a “pilot program” of foreign foreign students could determine whether non-magical beings have been introduced to the supernatural world. As well as approaching the wizarding world with a healthy dose of skepticism and logic, the four main characters drew attention to the inherent flaws in concepts like the Sorting Hat, even introducing concepts like Exercise. regular at school. It was an interesting exploration of what could happen when magical and non-magical worlds interact, to the point where young witches and wizards have mastered modern technologies.
Every one of these riffs on the original Harry Potter the images and storylines offered new approaches to concepts that not only punched holes in these stories, but also found ways to imagine more complex directions. Each of them moved beyond their mere parody status, subverting tropes while raising new edges and lines of questioning about the original storylines.
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