‘Carnival Row’ is an imaginative thriller sprung to life 

I stumbled upon “Carnival Row” during its first day on Amazon purely by accident. I saw commercials for the show and had a vague interest in the premise. The show was advertised as an over-hyped fantasy romance between two long-lost lovers. The overall tone of the commercial seemed way too dramatic for my taste. However, since the show was in my recommended section at the right place and time, I decided to try it. 

“Carnival Row” takes place in a world where mythical creatures and humans live together, though not always peacefully. A former soldier turned police investigator, Rycroft “Philo” Philostrate, is investigating the attacks on the fae, also known as fairies, that reside in his city, Carnival Row. At this same time, a fae named Vignette Stonemoss flees her home to Carnival Row in search of safety. Though Vignette and Philo live separate lives, they have a history together.  

The first episode surprised me, as the genre was less romance and more crime-fantasy. The show starts off with a rather intense scene, and continues to build on the dramatic and somewhat ominous tone. “Carnival Row” took itself seriously, but not so seriously that the plot felt over-fantasized or comical. The show’s use of mythical creatures was well-incorporated into the story, and the lore and lands of these creatures felt natural. 

The atmosphere of the television show felt like a noir film and the setting reflected this. The world created in “Carnival Row” was fantastical and well-designed. The gloomy and bleak design of the city matches the crimes investigated by Philo.    

At times, the plot was confusing and mysterious. Although it was understandable why the writers left many unanswered questions to drive the series, I felt like most of the time the cliffhangers lasted too long. Big plot points felt less impactful and less surprising because of how long it took for the audiences’ questions to be resolved.   

The characters were fleshed out and multi-dimensional. Each character becomes more complex as viewers learn about their pasts, and it is interesting to see how their pasts motivate their actions as the season progresses.  

In all, “Carnival Row” was an unusual story that used its grim atmosphere and complexities to intrigue viewers. The shows infusion of genres such as romance, thriller, crime and fantasy makes the series worth a try. 

Rating: 3.8 out of 5 


Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at calista.giroux@uconn.edu.