- 15 August 2019: Merrill Barr for Forbes Magazine
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.
- 14 August 2019: Richard Trenholm for c|net
One of the […] subplots is a regency-style drama about venal aristocrats distressed to find they must share their fashionable address with a horned and hoofed newcomer. Tamzin Merchant sinks her teeth into the role of a spiteful ingenue whose naive games descend into darkness.
The whole thing is underpinned by layers of subtext dealing with racism, immigration and colonialism […] and weave[s] timely themes in among the pseudo-historical shenanigans and lurid action, taking in those who grease the wheels of oppression for their own benefit and a society that denigrates others while secretly enjoying their company.
A second season has already been confirmed, and the series does end strongly with seismic changes for the fantasy city.
- 15 August 2019: Alex Maidy for JoBlo
David Gyasi portrays Agreus who develops a relationship with the human Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant) to the chagrin of her brother Ezra (Andrew Gower). We also see the animosity from the police forces and political leadership, including Absalom Breakspear (Jared Harris) and his wife Piety (Indira Varma). The cast here truly are an ensemble with even relative newcomers Anna Rust and Karla Crome fleshing out their supporting roles.
[…] it is the character work led by Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne that makes this show interesting. If not for seeing characters with horns in almost every scene, you could easily take this as a period drama dealing with political and racial themes in a real world setting. As a testament to Travis Beacham‘s original story, Carnival Row comes across as a fully realized world that doesn’t play like anything else currently on television.