Syfy has cast the stars for its adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, with Jason Ralph and Sosie Bacon named as the series’ leads. Ralph will play protagonist Quentin Coldwater, a character who exists primarily to answer the question, “What if Harry Potter went to college, then got pretty depressed?” Ralph has presumably honed his “dourly frowning at wondrous things” skills through his stage work, as well as by attempting to look serious while basking in David Duchovny’s warm, oily glow on NBC’s upcoming Aquarius. Bacon, the daughter of Kevin Bacon and The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick, will play Alice, a shy young woman who eventually learns to cut footloose with her formidable magical powers after enrolling at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy.

The plot of the series, set to air next year, will follow Quentin, a moody young man obsessed with the Narnia-esque fictional world of Fillory, through his initiation into said secret school for magical adepts. From there it will cover his friendships, rivalries, and growing magical powers, as well as his repeated, unfortunate realizations that growing magical powers are no substitute for a Xanax prescription and a good therapist. Another Earth director Mike Cahill—a man who knows his way around thoughtful, inward-looking speculative fiction—is directing the pilot, which started production in New Orleans earlier this week.

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