Not to add fuel to the fire and run away, but the LOTR trilogy ain’t 100% Tolkien faithful either. Faramir’s character was completely changed, entire chunks of the book were removed, and rolls were completely swapped out.
I wouldn’t be surprised that if those movies came out today the outcry would be massive. I can almost see the YouTube thumbnails photoshopping Greta Thunberg’s face over Arwen and Eowyen.
Conversely, if this show came out in 2008, I challenge the notion that the backlash would be the same.
The cry for Tolkien purism may be true to some, the PJ movies had that cry (although so quiet in the discourse) but it just seems like a shield to criticize diverse casting and female main characters.
If your claim is that it’s “not Tolkien’s story,” then you probably shouldn’t be watching any LOTR adaptation.
This is cope. Book purists were extremely critical of the movies at the time, including Christopher Tolkien himself. It’s in hindsight that a lot of people recognized that they did a good job being as faithful as they were, but there’s still plenty of people that don’t feel that way. Faramir is a big sticking point. So is Aragorn being unsure of himself as king. No one ever thought anything negative about Eowyn because she was accurately portrayed, and so was Galadriel. Arwen had a slightly bigger role and some people didn’t like that Glorfindel was replaced, but overall it wasn’t a huge deal because everything else was still accurate.
No one has a problem with Galadriel as a main character. The thing is that she’s being forced into an action hero role that doesn’t suit her. Her complexity and subtlety was reduced to a simple revenge story. She’s arguably one of the more interesting and morally gray characters in the series along with the other Noldor, but you wouldn’t know it. She’s supposed to have some hubris and try to build up her own realm, and she’s known more as a witch or sorceress who enchants people and naturally draws them to herself. She’s not just a blonde woman with a sword.
As for the ethnic thing, LOTR is a story based on Medieval Europe and the perspective of those peoples. That makes modern people uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t. There are nonwhite people in Middle Earth and they tend to ally with Sauron, but the REASONS they ally with Sauron are largely a history of colonialism and exploitation by the “white” Numenorians. You could easily make that into a great, diverse story with modern themes depicting the Haradrim and Easterling cultures with more complexity and some characters that are heroes, along with their tragic persecution by both Sauron and the men of the west. Gondor and Rohan are not inherently good in the written LOTR. Two important story points are made out of Rohan’s harsh treatment of the Dunlendings whose land they took, and the nonwhite Druedain, who they apparently hunted like animals. You could even have the Druedain instead of the Harfoots/Hobbits, and they would all be black or aboriginal.
You could do something similar with the elves and dwarves as well.
When everything on screen just looks like the modern US, you lose any of that complexity. It takes you out of the story immediately and you’re reminded that it’s a 2022 TV show on Amazon getting marketed to as broad an audience as possible instead of a fictional world with its own history and cultures.