In the wake of the end of Game of Thrones, a power vacuum emerged in the world of fantasy television. Right now, at this moment, a struggle exists among the various studios that wonder what will be the new fantasy adventure that takes the high chair. But while most are looking to replace the grand fantasy epic with … another grand fantasy epic, some are opting to zig where HBO zagged. One of those, despite what certain development slates may represent, is Amazon, and its new series, Carnival Row.
Created by Travis Beacham and René Echevarria, Carnival Row takes place on an alternate earth where fae and other mythical creatures roam under the sneering eye of mankind, who have systematically decimated their kind bit by bit. And the tension is only growing as a string of murders within the mythic community seeks to undo what little peace remains.
What makes Carnival Row work is its commitment to launching into this kind of world with fleshed-out ideas. Since the series is choosing to take the path of claiming the world is as it is and not going the route of having the creatures be revealed as having lived in secret for generations, more care needed to be taken into crafting a world that feels lived in. And that care is clear and present from the first frame.
There will be those that try and compare the series to Netflix’s lackluster feature film attempt at this idea, Bright. But, where that film failed is where Carnival Row succeeds. There is never a moment of adjustment with the show. Once you’re in, you’re in. Very quickly, one stops viewing the characters as creatures and just starts viewing them as personalities, and that is no small feat.
Additionally, not only are the technical aspects just some of the most gorgeous artistry on television right now, the story is very followable, which is something many shows like this have a problem with. Audiences should have as easy a time getting into this world as they did for the likes of The Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter.
Overall, Carnival Row is the kind of show we need right now. The kind of show that lives the ideals of Game of Thrones without straight trying to simply do it all over again. It’s fantasy, but of a different breed. And that different breed with be the difference between being judged as the next Thrones, and being judged on its own merits. And, on those merits, there’s no reason to not be excited for more.
Carnival Row premieres Friday, August 30th on Amazon Prime