WHY CARNIVAL ROW IS BEING COMPARED TO THRONES
When Game of Thrones ended, it left a vacuum that many shows hoped to fill. Who wouldn’t want to be the next cultural phenomenon?
The easiest path is to be an expensive and grand fantasy series with convoluted plots and moral greyness. Hollywood knows the genres that used to be at the margins – fantasy, sci-fi – are now thoroughly in the mainstream.
Want audiences? CGI in a dragon and add in some characters with names like Rycroft Philostrade and Vignette Stonemoss.
Well, there are no dragons in Carnival Row, but there are fairies, horned creatures called pucks and sorcerers who can work dark magic. Plus, family secrets. Oh yes, we do love those family secrets and solving the mysterious parentage of our orphaned hero. Sound familiar?
Borrowing its steampunk aesthetic from Victorian England, Carnival Row is set in a beleaguered city called The Burgue. Simmering tension between its human residents and its magical refugees are about to boil over.
It’s an unmistakeable analogy for not just our present-day sociopolitical climate around immigration, but really, pick any moment in history and you’ll find that tussle.
Orlando Bloom plays Philostrade or, as he’s known, Philo, a detective inspector investigating a series of grisly murders in which the victims’ insides are splayed out. Philo is the one with the mysterious parentage, having been abandoned as a baby.
To its credit, Carnival Row is an original work in that it’s not a remake, reboot or even adaptation from a comic book or novel.
That’s rare form in 2019.
The series is quite adept at world building, but it takes a long time to get going with its convoluted subplots. It only hits its stride around episode four, and when there are only eight episodes in the first series, that’s an indulgence it didn’t have the right to ask.
If you do stick around past the midway mark, there’s some reward in it. Characters who start off as one-note caricatures reveal themselves as more layered.
Carnival Row is streaming on Amazon Prime Video now.