Carnival Row focuses on two characters, estranged lovers Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) and the fae Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne). They live in a Victorian-era England city called the Burgue that’s populated by supernatural beings, and must contend with a series of Jack the Ripper-style murders that have rocked the red-light district of Carnival Row. Like Game of Thrones, the series features political allegory and complex subplots, but also carries some influence from other fantasy like Neil Gaiman’s work and Philip Reeve’s The Mortal Engines series, with an added dash of detective noir. Carnival Row mashes up these touchstones in a fresh way that makes it one of the more original genre series in recent memory.
Worldbuilding has proven to be of major importance in this standalone IP, with a rich backdrop that provides both challenges and opportunities for the writers, who have no source material to draw upon and must come up with Carnival Row‘s history, religions, cultural identities, and societal influences a way that’s accessible to viewers. In fact, SyFy reports that the first two episodes were reshot in order to better show the huge scale of the world and the significance of the struggles faced by its refugees.
“The world is everything on this show,” writer Stephanie K. Smith told SyFy. “And I think that’s what you’ll get a sense of when you watch it. It was important to set that stage right away.”
Smith continued, “The characters stem from the world, but everything after that stems from the characters.” What’s in store for those characters is something you can find out for yourself by catchup with the series in advance of the season 2 premiere on Amazon Prime Video.