I‘m not afraid to admit that I, like many other perfectly normal and well-adjusted adults, spent the early aughts completely consumed by a children’s book series. I remember scoffing when I first heard about grownups reading Harry Potter, but just a couple of years later, I was hooked. I spent most of my 20s wishing that I could be a wizard like Harry, attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, battling Death Eaters, and liberating house elves. I forced my husband to watch all of the movies with me (pro tip: playing a drinking game wherein you must take a sip “every time someone does magic” is a terrible idea). I mourned the loss of … certain characters (no spoilers!). I spent a week in 2007 avoiding all media and watercooler conversations because Amazon screwed up and shipped my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows late. And I sobbed like a baby when I finally finished the last book, not just because of how it ended, but because it was, at the time, my last visit to the wizarding world.
So maybe I jumped the gun a little bit when I started rereading (and re-watching) the series with my son when he was only 6. The books were originally spaced out so that the audience would grow up with them; hence the huge jump in thickness about halfway through the series, along with the addition of some super dark storylines. He’d already seen Star Wars — and it doesn’t get much darker than ewoks gleefully dancing around the flaming body of Darth Vader, right? But experiencing the series as a parent made me see things in a whole new light.
A few thoughts I never had that first time around (SPOILERS throughout):
Why Did The Dursleys Even Take Harry?
Harry's aunt and uncle are absolute monsters. The mere fact that nobody called child services on them makes me question all the adults in Harry Potter, to be honest. They lock him up, berate him at every turn, and they even spend one summer starving him. So can someone please explain to me why they even took him in to begin with? He was just dropped on their doorstep in the middle of the night; it's not like this is some foster care scam where they're getting a stipend from the government. Why didn't they just leave him at an orphanage? It worked for Tom Riddle, Senior ... sort of.
What Even Is The Life Expectancy Of A Wizard?
We know that wizards can live exceptionally long lives if they're willing to use dark magic, like Voldemort, or the Sorcerer's Stone, like Nicholas Flamel, but how long do they normally live? Dumbledore lived to well over 100. And Voldemort, who was in his seventies, was a classmate of Hagrid's. So how come Hagrid only looks like he's in his forties or fifties? Does that giant blood keep him young-looking?
Why Do Parents Send Their Kids To Hogwarts?
Hogwarts is supposed to be the safest place in the wizarding world, but let's be honest: it's actually probably the most dangerous. This is a school where a poltergeist is regarded as a minor nuisance, for goodness' sake. Sure, parents have complained about feisty hippogriffs and werewolf teachers, but nobody minds that there's a three-headed dog in the basement and a tree that can crush cars?
And another thing: You need a permission slip to go to Hogsmeade for the afternoon, but the Triwizard Tournament contestants were forced to battle actual dragons without so much as an owl sent home to their parents in advance? What the hell?
Why Are Three Little Kids The Smartest People Around?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Dumbledore is super wise. Sure. So how come Harry, Ron, and Hermione end up literally saving the world, like, once a year? Starting at age 11? "Hey, the bank's not safe; let's keep this priceless artifact at a children's school!" "Golly, everyone keeps falling into comas, just like they did 60 years ago, wonder why?"
Harry and his buds haven't even hit puberty in Book One, but they're already smarter than every single adult in the series. Does anyone not find that uh, strange?
So Is Butterbeer Alcohol, Or ...?
Maybe this is more of a U.K. culture thing than a Harry Potter thing, but those kids sure do spend an awful lot of time in pubs. What's the drinking age for wizards? And then there was the time that first year Seamus Finnegan casually tried to turn his water into rum at lunchtime. Are these kids just constantly getting wasted?
Are There No Background Checks For Wizards?
Mr. Filch is hands-down the creepiest creep who ever creeped. He actually threatens to string kids up as punishment. Hagrid, a half-giant, passed as a comically-large human for years. Snape, a former Death Eater, holds a grudge against Harry because he was friend-zoned by his mother 30 years ago. And then there's the revolving door of unqualified Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers. I feel like the series could have been whittled down to one book if Voldemort had just walked into Hogwarts and asked Dumbledore for a job.
The Kids Are Awfully Mean To Hagrid
So we've established that Harry and company are super smart. And Hagrid, well ... doesn't always make the best choices. That's a fact. But he's still an adult, and their teacher (eventually). Yet the kids treat him like their idiot little brother. If they talked to any other teacher the way they talked to him, they'd be kicked out of school within a week.
Can Wizards Just Break Into Any House They Want?
We know that Arthur Weasley once showed up in the Dursley's fireplace uninvited. Can wizards just pop into any fireplace they want? What about apparating? Could one of them apparate in my bedroom at night and perform the Cruciatus curse while I slept? Or just "Alohomora" my front door open? Because that's not OK.
Why Didn't The Weasleys Conjure Up A Bigger House?
I'm definitely not shaming the Weasleys for their financial status or their perfectly valid choice to have a ton of kids, but here's the thing: they are magical people. They own a canvas tent that, once you go inside, is bigger than the Burrow. Can't they perform some sort of engorging charm on their home so that it can comfortably fit everyone? I know bigger isn't always better, but they're not only parents to seven kids, their kids are constantly bringing friends with them – Harry and Hermione spend entire summers at the Burrow. A spare room or two might be in order.
Are There No Hair Products Available To Wizards?
I'll mourn the loss of Alan Rickman all the days of my life, but there's no denying that Snape had greasy hair. Hermione had bushy hair. Harry had messy hair. Hagrid had tangled hair. What's with all the bad hair? We know Hermione used Sleekeazy's Hair Potion to tame her locks for the yule ball, but it didn't last very long. And Hagrid may or may not have attempted to use axle grease on his hair. Is there a lack of plain old shampoo and conditioner in the wizarding world?
Is There No Such Thing As A Conflict of Interest In The Wizarding World?
Barty Crouch sent his own son to Azkaban for torturing the Longbottoms. It was the right thing to do, don't get me wrong, but why was Barty even allowed to preside over his son's trial? Sure, he's a stand-up guy who did what the law asked of him, but your average parent could certainly be expected to keep their kid out of jail (in fact, he and his wife did eventually help Barty Jr. escape). Shouldn't there be a rule that parents are never put in that position to begin with?
Where Did Harry's Fortune Come From?
When Hagrid first takes Harry to Diagon Alley, they pop in to Gringott's bank, where Harry learns that he has a vault full of gold. He's so flush, in fact, that when he wins a thousand galleons (roughly $10,000 USD) after completing the Triwizard Tournament, he gives it away. We know his parents left it to him, but where did they get it? And is it in a trust, or could Harry have just pissed it all away on Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans if he'd wanted to?
The Wizarding World Is Even More Racist Than The Real World
If someone at my kid's school called a classmate a racist epithet, they'd probably get suspended. Malfoy (and others) talk smack about "Mudbloods" every damn day, and nobody but Hagrid even seems to mind. Probably because Hagrid is half-giant, which is another race wizards look down on. Oh, and then there's the fact that their cafeteria is exclusively staffed by actual slaves.
Hey, Oliver Wood's Not Bad-Looking
It's OK to think Gryffindor's team captain is hot. I looked it up, and he was 18 when the first movie came out. You're welcome.