Carnival Row

2 seasons

Watch it for...

A riveting cast fighting to protect the rights of immigrant mythical creatures living amongst hardened humans in a steampunk world.


A string of unsolved murders draws Detective Rycroft “Philo” Philostrate (played by Orlando Bloom) out of the shadows and into the mess of tense relations between humans and the humanistic fae who have come to Carnival Row to escape their war-ridden homeland. The fae have nowhere else to go, but the local “normal people” reject their presence, commonly leading to harsh mistreatment and seemingly inescapable poverty for most of the fae. Philo soon encounters Vignette Stonemoss (played by Cara Delevingne), a zealous faerie who has just landed in Carnival Row. In order to help each other stay alive and untangle the mysterious murders, Philo and Vignette must first reconcile their broken past. 

The show also follows the story of upper-class citizens Imogen Spurnrose and her brother Ezra, the heirs to a supposedly grand fortune, and their new neighbor, Agreus Astrayon, a very wealthy faun (the fauns are cruelly nicknamed “pucks”). The siblings detest both Agreus’ status and his presence because it upsets their social structure and puts their reputation at risk.

Carnival Row wraps the best of a crime show, drama, and steampunk fantasy all together into an unforgettable experience.

Emma's thoughts

While solving murders and melding with mythical creatures aren’t a part of my daily life, the emotional aspects of Carnival Row still hit me deep. Watching the main character, Philo, struggle to manage piecing together his own past while he simultaneously tries to solve everyone else’s problems is very relatable. I often find myself trying to take care of others often at the expense of fulfilling my own needs, which I think a lot of other women can relate to as well. We’re often expected to put everyone else before ourselves or we will be considered selfish.

We see this trope exhibited in the female lead, Vignette, because she’s been through a lot of trauma and is working to rebuild her life and take care of herself when Philo crosses her path. She cares about the fae as a whole and acknowledges the cruelty shown to them (not to mention experiencing it herself every day), but she is trying to prioritize getting her life back together and work on healing her emotional wounds before helping others. Unfortunately, since Vignette is strong and capable, Philo expects her to aid him in solving the murders instead of giving her space to focus on herself—helping herself will have to wait. Philo drops all of Carnival Row’s darkness right on her doorstep, expecting her to help fix it all with him. I don’t blame Philo for doing so because he knows she can help, but it’s still hard to have to watch Vignette ignore and shove all of her pain down in order to help others.

I also found Imogen’s character growth throughout the show to be impressive. She starts off as a basic high-society woman, who is only expected to sit still and look pretty, but she’s very intelligent and quickly discovers that she cares about other things way more than her purses and dresses. I felt very inspired by her journey of self-discovery to push the boundaries of our modern society myself, to not be afraid to stand up against those who commit wrongs, even if that includes members of my own family.

Above all this, the raw emotional quality of Carnival Row is cathartic and eye-opening. The portrayal of the fae’s struggle for survival highlights the reality of many immigrants today. This show will really open your heart up to the displaced peoples of today and encourage you to lend a hand instead of looking the other way when people are pushed aside for no other reason than the fact that they’re not “from here”.

Watch Carnival Row on Amazon Prime Video!