This is how Lainey chose to inform me about the new Amazon Prime show, Carnival Row. Not, “There is a show about mythical creatures living in Victorian London,” or even, “this looks interesting.” No, she led with, “Orlando Bloom got a job!” Which is news, to be fair. He was once the most promising heartthrob of a generation. Now he’s best known as Katy Perry’s SO. It’s harder than it appears to turn “heartthrob” into a thriving career—we should appreciate the leap RBatz made even more. But Orlando Bloom is now back in the spotlight with Carnival Row, a Victorian-era mystery involving magical creatures and co-starring Cara Delevingne.
Bloom plays a detective named Rycroft Philostrate—GREAT Victorian fantasy detective name—a human who is involved with a faerie named Vignette Stonemoss (Delevingne). Apparently, this is against the rules, as human and magical creatures are not supposed to intermingle. After Bright, quite frankly, I am terrified of using fantasy creatures as metaphors for real-world prejudice, so let’s cross our fingers and hope Carnival Row doesn’t walk into anything too gross. The teaser doesn’t give us any real information, it’s just a look at Bloom in a bowler hat and Delevingne with wings and a cool coat. Apparently, there is some kind of rift and the world is being threatened. Okay.
Lainey assumed I would be into this because “carnivals seem like your sh-t”. I’m not sure what vibe I’m giving off that says “really into carnivals”, but that is not actually the case. Carnivals were not a big part of my youth. To be fair, I was into the short-lived HBO drama Carnivale, but fantasy is really hit or miss with me. Carnivale worked because it was a big ensemble with an interesting setting and intriguing premise where magic was more of a curse than a gift. But just because I like one fantasy thing, doesn’t mean I will like all fantasy things. If Carnival Row turns out to be a big ensemble with an interesting setting and an intriguing premise—cool. But if it turns out to be a clumsy allegory for modern issues—not as cool (see also: Bright). A fifteen-second teaser is not nearly enough to know whether or not Carnival Row is going to be worth our time. Post-Game of Thrones, we have a fantasy drama void to fill. Will Carnival Row be the show to fill it? Something tells me carnivals + Victoriana + fantasy is going to turn out to be VERY niche, but we’ll see.