Your weekly streaming pick is the Amazon Prime original series, Carnival Row. Not only is this an well made and powerful series, it’s also a passion project. You feel that passion coming through in the quality. Another feather in Amazon Prime’s cap of quality programming.
Carnival Row is set in an adjacent Victoria era world. In this world humans live side by side with many mythological creatures. The world of mythological creatures, Tirnanoc, was fine until man came. War waged over the resources of the land. After man had enough of the conflict they created, Tirnanoc falls further apart. With Tirnanoc in ruin the creatures begin migrating to the world of man.
Carnival Row took a long journey to your screen. This was a massive passion project that took eighteen years for the dream to come to fruition.
Carnival Row is a darker fantasy series than you might expect. Victorian London was an extravagant, but disgusting place. The majority of the story takes place in the titular section of town, Carnival Row. This street is the heart of the slums. Taking the dark period and centering it on a story of prejudice and bigotry makes an even darker setting.
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Carnival Row is as binge-able as any show on any streaming service. The fantasy drama tackles some very real issues and emotions. On a personal level we get a story about lost love and heartbreak. Wider issues deal with prejudice, immigration, and basic human rights. Tackling even the largest issues never feels heavy handed. You can sit back and enjoy the show for the fantastical creation that it is.
Orlando Bloom is stepping back into a fantasy world. This time he gets to play human. He’s a police detective who fell in love with a fairy during the Tirnanoc war. The fairy in question is played by Cara Delevingne. I was excited to see Bloom get deep into another role and not live in past typecasting. Delevingne, I was a bit more skeptical on. While incredibly attractive her acting chops never felt up to snuff for… anything.
Carnival Row doesn’t just play into her looks. It gives her an incredible amount of heavy lifting to do to carry the story. Both leads deliver fully formed, deep characters, in the very first episode. The supporting cast is also strong, but between the makeup and the amount of story to absorb in a mere eight episodes a second viewing may be necessary to really dive deep into the subtleties of all the performances.
The makeup, effects, and costuming are gorgeous. Victorian era London in our actual world is impressive enough and a massive task for any costumer. Adding in a slew of mythological creatures, all with their own unique look, brings it to another level. Blending the practical effects with computer effects is seamless and only noticeable because people can’t actually fly. It takes all of three minutes to accept the world your thrust into.
Carnival Row is a magnificently crafted series that you should not wait on watching. One word of advice, wait until you can really pay attention on an actual screen. This isn’t one for phone screens or even tablets. The atmosphere, settings, and costumes are award worthy. The performances make an already incredible series of scripts come to life.