Carnival Row

The new fantasy/steam Amazon Prime show has just dropped, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. It is set in a post World War 1 styled fantasy world, where the Fae have gotten caught between two warring human empires; the Pact and the Burgues. The Fae sided with the Burgues, but were betrayed when the Burgues decided to cut their losses and run. Now the Fae are escaping concentration camps by seeking asylum in the Burgues capital, only to be sold into indentured slavery.

I’ve watched two episodes so far and what it does well is touch on the racism faced by the Fae from their hosts. It works on multiple levels too. On one level, their contribution to the war effort and subsequent betrayal goes unacknowledged. On the streets they face the same working class racism that the Pakistanis and Caribbeans of the Windrush generation faced. They are also prey to the structural racism of the state and the police; as well as the middle class eugenics of the bourgeois.

The Fae are being trafficked as sex slaves, or indentured house servants, or employed as cheap labour. There is also an underground criminal element amongst the Fae. However, despite its historical fantastic setting, it still works as a commentary on racist and sexist attitudes that exist today, which is what good fiction is all about.

All this is built around a central love story between the main characters and Bloom’s turn as a hard nosed detective with a soft spot for the Fae.

So far is got the thumbs up from me. Word of warning; the series contains scenes of a sexual nature, violence and gruesome crime scenes so you may want to keep the remote handy. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section…

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