Carnival Row: Victorian detective drama meets fantastical fairies in Amazon’s new genre-bending TV series - Reasons to watch on Prime Video

Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom lead the big-name cast of Amazon’s new fantasy drama streaming now on Prime Video that explores themes around immigration and refugees.

After much fanfare around the ‘devilishly good’ Good Omens, and ahead of the launch of its multi-million dollar Lord of the Rings TV show - Carnival Row is the fantasy series everyone's talking about on Amazon.

Streaming on Prime Video now, Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom lead the blockbuster-worthy cast of this genre-bending, epic fantasy drama.

Set in Victorian-era London, Carnival Row is filled with mythological immigrant creatures whose exotic homelands were invaded by the empires of man. 

In the Row, a human detective (Bloom) and a refugee faerie (Delevingne) rekindle a dangerous affair despite an increasingly intolerant society - exploring increasingly relevant themes around immigiration.

BT TV Exclusive: The cast of Carnival Row reveal Secrets From the Set

Here, we reveal BT TV’s top 3 reasons to watch Amazon’s Carnival Row on Prime Video.

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1. The Hollywood blockbuster-worthy cast

carnival row bloom

It's become fashionable in recent years for movie stars to appearin TV series, with A-listers including Meryl Streep, Penelope Cruz and Julia Roberts all appearing on the small screen in recent years.

That trend shows no sign of stopping, and Carnival Row boasts a cast worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster.

The cast of the fantasy series is led by Cara Delevingne, who plays refugee faerie Vignette Stonemoss, and Orlando Bloom, who plays human detective Rycroft Philostrate (aka Philo).

Carnival Row is Delevingne’s first major TV role: the London-born actress/model has largely appeared in films throughout her career, including Paper Towns, Pan and Suicide Squad.

Bloom actually began his acting career on TV - appearing in Casualty, no less - but has since appeared mainly in movies.

And not just any old movies - he’s been front and centre in blockbuster movie franchises Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Delevingne and Bloom are joined by a stellar supporting cast that includes Jared Harris as Absalom Breakspear - the secretive Chancellor of the Burgue, besieged by political enemies from all sides. 

Harris recently earned an Emmy nomination for playing scientist Valery Legasov in the HBO mini series, Chernobyl. He’s also appeared in major TV hits including The Crown, The Terror and Mad Men.  

The cast also includes Simon McBurney (The Borgias), David Gyasi (Interstellar), Tamzin Merchant (Salem), Andrew Gower (Outlander), Karla Crome (Under the Dome), Arty Froushan (Knightfall), Caroline Ford (Once Upon A Time), and Indira Varma (Game of Thrones).

[Everything you need to know about Amazon’s new TV series Carnival Row]

[What to watch on Amazon Prime Video this month]

2. It’s a genre-bending TV drama concept

carnival row

Carnival Row is set in a Victorian fantasy world, and while it has been described as fantasy noir by some critics, its unique concept means it straddles multiple genres. 

One part of the show is a traditional Victorian detective drama in the vein of Sherlock or Ripper Street. 

Then there’s the omnipresent fantastical element which runs throughout the show, about fairies and monsters living with humans, which is much more along the lines of something like Once Upon a Time or Grimm.

Significantly, the love story between Bloom and Delevingne’s star-crossed characters which lies at the heart of the story will appeal to fans of historical romance shows like Outlander and acts as a pleasant antidote to the occasionally dark and ghoulish themes.

As such, the show is an original blend of styles and tones - a genre-bending, unique concept that will appeal to many.

In fact, it’s the originality that drew Bloom into the project. Speaking to IMDB at Comic Con 2019, Bloom said: “I really felt when I read this, I’d never seen this before. I’d never seen this world, I’d never seen these characters.

“I have a bit of history with fantasy stuff [with Lord of the Rings] so that was a big greenlight for me."

3. Topical themes are explored through a fantasy lens 

carnival row cara

The show touches upon themes around immigration and refugees - something that’s both timely and poignant considering current affairs around the world.

Bloom’s character Philo is living in the cobbled streets of Carnival Row in old London, among mythological immigrant creatures who’ve fled their homelands. 

The population of these creatures seeking refuge in the Row continues to grow - yet they are forbidden to live, love, or fly with freedom. 

The fact their homelands were invaded by humans - who they are now living alongside - creates a tense, uneasy coexistence.

The similarities between the immigrant themes in Carnival Row, and immigrants seeking refuge in the present day - particularly in America - is no accident.

This is despite the fact the show was created 17 years ago by René Echevarria and Travis Beacham.

"I think it's very interesting that Travis... wrote this 17 years ago, and those themes were present, but they are so relevant today," executive producer Marc Guggenheim said 2019 TCA Summer press tour, reported by PopSugar.co.uk.

"It's a sad commentary that the plight of immigrants and migrants and refugees has gotten so much worse in the intervening 17 years. 

“At the same time, one of the things we often say in the writers' room is that the immigrant story is a very long-time and important thread in the tapestry of human narrative. It's a very, very old story. 

“So we're not doing anything new. But we're very cognizant of the fact that we are holding a mirror up to what's going on in our world right now."

Both Bloom and Delevingne have said in press interviews for the show that the themes around refugees and immigration will no doubt be a point of controversy - and viewers can expect to see fictionalised debate scenes on immigration later in the series.

"There's so much fear in the world today about the idea of refugees, migrants coming into society," Bloom said. "What are they gonna do to our society? How are they gonna take jobs, drugs, thieving, whatever the preconceived notion is?"

"It's like looking at this character from here, and this character from here and all these worlds and how they interconnect," Beacham added. "I thought that was such an interesting structure and really wanted to explore it in a fantasy context."

Also speaking of the matter at Comic-Con 2019 in San Diego, Bloom said that the series “addresses a lot of what we are experiencing today but with the added component of a fantasy period”.

“We can explore these issues that are going on in the world today with a kind of empathy and objective quality that doesn’t feel like it’s banging you over the head."

Watch Carnival Row if you liked…

Sherlock, Outlander, Good Omens, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Penny Dreadful.

Carnival Row is streaming now on Prime Video.

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