The Witcher Season 2 was worse than I would have believed had I not watched it first hand myself.
They did so many weird and bad things. Some examples (these involve show and book spoilers):
- Yennefer is a mage and because of that she can’t have kids, but she wants to have kids. In the books, Yennefer basically acts as a “mother” to Ciri, and that’s important for both their characters (it especially helps take the “edge” off Yennefer, who can be mean and bad at times, and it further connects her to Geralt, who is also magically sterile and serves as Ciri’s “father”). In the show, they decided to have Yennefer lose her magic (doesn’t happen in books) and then try to betray Ciri (but then regret it and try to call it off) as part of a plan by Yennefer to get her magic back. So they turned a maternal relationship into a sinister betrayal relationship.
- A bunch of prostitutes were let into the hidden, somewhat secret, mountainous Witcher retreat (Kaer Morhen) because um … I guess Netflix wanted to hit a nudity quotient? The stern father figure of the Witchers (Vesemir) was somehow okay with this.
- They killed off a named Witcher character (Eskel) for no good reason, after just introducing him, despite introducing a bunch of other no-name Witchers they could have killed nstead.
Also the dialogue was really bad at times (e.g. lots of pointless cursing.)
If you want some more details, YouTuber xLetalis is a big fan of the Witcher universe who seems to know what he’s talking about re: Witcher stuff (much more so than I do) and is doing detailed critiques/summaries. Here is his first one.
My big picture impression is that they tried to follow the books more for the first season, and despite some issues, the quality of the books (which aren’t super amazing, but which are decent fantasy IMHO) shone through. Now the TV writers are more doing “their own thing”, and it’s … bad.
I think some of the cause is trying to pander to audiences but some may be writers wanting to express their “individuality” (from The Fountainhead):
Keating fought. It was the kind of battle he had never entered, but he tried everything possible to him, to the honest limit of his exhausted strength. He went from office to office, arguing, threatening, pleading. But he had no influence, while his associate designers seemed to control an underground river with interlocking tributaries. The officials shrugged and referred him to someone else. No one cared about an issue of esthetics. “What’s the difference?” “It doesn’t come out of your pocket, does it?” “Who are you to have it all your way? Let the boys contribute something.” […]
“But what for? What for? What for?” Keating cried to his associate designers. “Well, why shouldn’t we have any say at all?” asked Gordon L. Prescott. “We want to express our individuality too.”