HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD had a stunning first week on shelves, but the Harry Potter play was missing something. J.K. Rowling’s Cursed Child needed more Rose — Granger-Weasley, that is — and relegating her to the role of bully-lite, romantic interest, and part-time damsel-in-distress was a disservice to the Harry Potter legacy.
Spoiler alert: if you have not read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, there are major spoilers for the play beyond this point. You have been warned.
Like most members of the Cursed Child cast, Rose Granger-Weasley isn’t an all-new character. She’s the eldest child of Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, and is the same age as Harry and Ginny Potter’s youngest son, Albus Severus Potter. In the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron spots Scorpius Malfoy — Draco’s son, and another of Cursed Child‘s protagonists — and tells his daughter, “Make sure you beat him in every test, Rosie.”
Those nine words launched a Rose-Scorpius ship, which Cursed Child occasionally uses for comedic relief. Unfortunately, Scorpius’ undaunted pursuit of Rose disappointed some fans, who read the younger Malfoy as gay and wanted a proudly LGBTQ character in the new generation. That’s an issue for another day, however.
Rose shows up strong in the first act of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. As she and Albus search for a place to sit on the Hogwarts Express, they come across Scorpius, who sits alone. The scene bears a remarkable resemblance to the Golden Trio’s meeting in Sorcerer’s Stone, with Rose giving off the same cocksure air as her mother once did. However, she takes things a step beyond, and quickly positions herself as a minor antagonist in the play.
Instead of showing her smarts, Rose takes on a prejudicial air: Doesn’t Albus know that Scorpius is probably Voldemort’s son, and why would any good Potter, Weasley, or Granger want to be associated with that sort of person? After Albus finds himself sorted into Slytherin, his lifelong friendship with Rose dissolves.
I’m all for subverting readers’ expectations, but following up the Golden Trio with two affable, bumbling boys and a witchy cousin doesn’t do new Potterheads any favors. The adventures of J.K. Rowling’s original band of heroes were driven by Harry’s determination, Ron’s caution, and Hermione’s intelligence. Cursed Child changes up this formula to rely instead on Albus’ teen angst and Scorpius’ geeky optimism. Although she could have been useful in keeping the boys grounded, Rose’s character is written in such a way that readers don’t actually want her around.
Rose Granger-Weasley is insufferable. She’s mean and haughty, and the only time she becomes central to the plot is when she’s been erased from history by the boys’ mistake. Even after things are set to rights, Cursed Child doesn’t offer any glimpse of Rose’s humanity, and her prejudicial attitude toward Scorpius, Albus, and the other Slytherins is shockingly unlike the bastions of acceptance from whence she spawned.
Hermione’s better-than-you-and-I-know-it attitude was charming, in its own way. She was at the forefront of the wizarding world’s social justice movements, even when her best friends didn’t believe in her cause. Then again, the brightest witch of her age becomes palatable to most readers after she cries over Ron’s insults, so — because Rowling’s original series of books was not the feminist adventure fantasy it could have been — perhaps it’s not logical to expect better treatment for her daughter.
Rose is not the spitting image of her mother, and that’s kind of the point. The children at the heart of Cursed Child are all much different, and disconnected, from their parents. Making Rose likable by taking away her edge would be just as unsatisfactory, but it isn’t asking too much to have the Harry Potter play’s writers — Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany — use their creative problem solving skills to come up with a better, more present heroine for the next generation of witches.
In Rowling’s original seven novels, Hermione Granger was a hero to intelligent and unpretty girls everywhere. But her daughter, much to our chagrin, never has a chance to be heroic. The Harry Potter play offers her the bulk of its attention only when a time-travel mistake destroys her chance of ever being born. Outside of that extended absence, Rose moves on the fringes of the Cursed Child stage, her sole purpose to be an ill-fated love interest for Scorpius.
This is all made worse by the fact that Cursed Child doesn’t offer up a girl hero in Rose’s stead. Although we get to see plenty of grown-up Hermione in action, the effect for children is not the same as when a teenage girl is the one kicking ass.
Rose Granger-Weasley deserved better. It’s a shame the creators of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child didn’t agree.