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The ‘Percy Jackson & The Olympians’ Disney + TV Series Promises To Stay Loyal To The Books

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series was an instant classic for many 2000s kids – the great question of Gen Z’s childhood is “Who’s your godly parent?” – and now the story is being rebooted, set to air on your TV soon. It was May 14, 2020, when author Rick Riordan announced that the television adaptation was in the works. Riordan and his wife, Becky, have partnered with Disney+ for the new live-action Percy Jackson series, with the first season set to focus on the first novel, The Lightning Thief, in which Perseus “Percy” Jackson discovers that he’s a demigod, and embarks on a quest (accompanied by Grover, a satyr, and Annabeth, a daughter of Athena) to catch the person who stole Zeus’ master bolt. 

But the series will need a great cast to bring the story to life. It’s no secret that PJO is to Gen Z what Harry Potter is to millennials, and Gen Z is especially protective over Percy’s story, given that the 2010 PJO movie was not great, to say the least. Even Riordan referred to the adaptations as his “life’s work going through a meat grinder” and has requested teachers not screen them in class, mainly due to the criticisms of the actors’ ages and the plot straying considerably from that of the books (not to mention the CGI monsters – though the Lotus Hotel and Casino scene was a cinematic masterpiece). So it’s a relief to hear that Riordan is working on the series! “We are very excited about the idea of a live-action series of the highest quality, following the original storyline of the Percy Jackson five-book series,” he announced. “Rest assured that Becky and I will be involved in every aspect of the show.” 

Needless to say, you should be excited to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians hit the small screen, but you may want to know when and how it’s happening. Read on to find out more about the action-packed, heroic, and mythological story’s upcoming production, from the release date to the teaser trailer and more. 

The cast has yet to be announced.

The cast has yet to be announced, but the casting process is underway. A casting call for Percy was put up in April of 2021, with the casting calls for Annabeth and Grover following in December of 2021. Following in Harry Potter’s footsteps, the TV series will be keeping the characters’ ages book accurate, meaning they’ll all be played by actors around 12 years old, and the open casting call means anyone can audition. 

On January 29, 2022, Riordan made public that the series had been greenlit by Disney+, so the official cast list may be coming in the near future. 

The release date is TBD. 

We can expect the PJO TV show sometime during 2023 at the earliest. In a June 2021 update, Riordan mentioned that the pilot script and season outline are finished, but the COVID-19 pandemic was slowing the process. The good news is that it’s clear that the PJO team is taking their time to make it the best it can be. 

There’s no trailer yet. 

The series has yet to start filming, so it’ll probably be a while before we start seeing any teaser trailers. 

You can expect the show to be loyal to the books.

Percy Jackson was written for Riordan’s son, Haley, who has dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Its characters (including Percy, who was based on Haley) aren’t weak because of these diagnoses; it’s what makes them demigods. When Percy sees words jumbled on a page, it’s because his mind is hard-wired to read ancient Greek. This is unique to those with dyslexia and ADHD, who usually don’t see themselves represented in media. 

On top of representation, the Percy Jackson series and its spinoffs discuss topics like domestic abuse, racism, prejudice, homelessness, PTSD, gaslighting, Islamophobia, homophobia, and xenophobia, among others. None of them are forced but brought up naturally in a genuine way. The cast of characters is diverse because the real, modern world is diverse (especially Gen Z). The Heroes of Olympus – one of the sequel series to PJO – has seven main characters, four of which are characters of color (Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and Chinese). At the time of the first PJO novel release in 2005, 90 percent of children’s books centered around a white protagonist. In Riordan’s novels, children of color not only see themselves, but see themselves as gods. 

Another sequel series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, has a transgender and gender-fluid character, and Riordan helps children not only understand what the LGBTQ+ community is but even helps them identify themselves within it. While series like Harry Potter are well-loved, they’re severely lacking in the diversity department, and the PJO books were one of the first times much of Gen Z was able to relate to a literary character. 

Fans can expect the show to follow suit, as Riordan is dedicated to a book-accurate show. And while the books describe characters like Annabeth as having very particular physical characteristics (grey eyes and blonde hair), casting for the characters isn’t calling for any specific ethnicities. “We are looking for the best [people] who can embody the character[s] we all know and love from the books,” Riordan stated in the casting call announcement. 

Knowing Riordan is carefully curating every step of the process, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is bound to be the adaptation loyal fans deserve.

What else makes this different from other adaptations?

This is also the first time the series is told in smaller, digestible bites. Besides the film series, there was also a musical stage adaptation. The Lightning Thief opened off-broadway in 2014 and on Broadway in 2019. Riordan gave his stamp of approval to its creators, who happened to be fans of the books, and his agents were hands-on in the process. 

Fans were skeptical when the production was first announced, as they’d been burned before. However, the writers decided to invite a group of fans to an early reading of the show to give input and suggestions for alterations. It paid off in the end, with rave reviews from critics (though the extended Broadway version wasn’t viewed in such a positive light) and gaining a loyal fanbase (67.8K followers on the official Twitter). 

Is it 2023 yet? 

Hi! I'm an editorial intern at Her Campus and Senior Editor at HC Pace! I can recite Gilmore Girls lines from memory and you can find me wherever books, dogs, or concerts are.
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