‘Carnival Row’ Review (NO Spoilers)

Looking for your next show to binge? Coming out this Friday, August 30th, is the new original show from Amazon Prime, Carnival Row. The show is a Victorian period piece mystery that has alluring visuals, sexy love scenes, romance, fantasy creatures and intriguing world building that does leave some questions unanswered. Please let there be a season 2! It will be a holiday weekend, so make sure to set aside time to dive into this lush world and enjoy the ride!


I first noticed ads for Carnival Row via my Amazon Prime account and was immediately intrigued. Fantasy, Fae, Victorian, and that cast? Oh my, yes please, sign me up! Then at San Diego Comic-Con, Amazon had a massive interactive activations area that featured Carnival Row, The Boys (out now) and The Expanse (Season 4 premieres December 13th). For Carnival Row, there was an interactive theatre-esque experience and a market where you could purchase snacks with coins you were given upon arrival. The wait for the lines to go into the show experience areas reached about 3 hours at times as they saw around 3,000 fans a day!


Just outside the Carnival Row walk-thru, there was unique photo-op with faerie wings that anyone could walk up to. There was a couple small ledges for your leg and arm so that you could prop yourself up and make it look like you were flying! A simple and very cool effect!


Needless to say, I was already getting excited to watch the show and it did not disappoint.

The show’s main characters and storyline revolve around a human detective, Rycroft Philostrate, played by Olrando Bloom, and a refugee faerie, Vignette Stonemoss, played by Cara Delevingne (LOVE her short hair look!). The parallels to today’s current events regarding refugees, immigration, and ‘the other’ is pretty obvious but that is not the main focus though it still makes a statement without becoming clichely dull. Similarly, race is touched upon but, since there is such a stark difference between human and fae, human differences are not explored much.


Something that is explored is the complexities of people (human and fae) and relationships. Complications arise and are not quickly resolved, but that makes it more interesting. Yes, there are some storylines you can see coming, but it is how they unfold that make them worth investing in. This is only season one, so there are some side characters and organizations that would be nice to see developed further and hopefully that will be something they explore in the second season.


The visual effects/artistic direction are phenomenal! How do you have a bunch of faeries with wings and not drown in the vfx budget? Most of the show involves them walking because in the Burgue (the human run city) they are not allowed to fly. Don’t worry, there is still lots of flying and fluttering of wings during sex. The compromise is their wings lay flat on their backs like a cloak so they still are visually present but no computer fx needed. It was a little bit odd at first but works well within the world of the show. Also, they seem to work like dragonfly wings while in flight which is a neat real world way to explore how they fly. There are centaurs and other creatures in the background but the main fae featured are faeries and pucks (fawns). The pucks are varied in how their horns look but the base of their horns come down around the eyes which looks really cool! Overall, the visual style, wardrobe, fx makeup and actors sell this fantasy world and you feel like you are there.


Carnival Row also has a bit of humor blended in the dark mystery. As mentioned earlier, there are a handful of hot sex scenes with nudity (just FYI). Each one is shot/edited differently to reflect the relationship of the characters. Speaking of editing, the show is not completely linear and sometimes the show tells you when the change has occurred with text on screen, but not every time. Stick with it as it is pretty quickly revealed when the new segment is taking place.

Binging also helps with that story consumption as those eight episodes go by quick but are still juicy at about an hour each. Carnival Row does have many elements genre lovers will enjoy but it is still engaging enough for your casual viewer. Starting August 30th, enter the ‘Row’ and discover the unknown delights it holds!

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