Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Aug 19, 2019
    80
    It takes a few episodes for the series to introduce and spin out this cobbled mythology — and that will undoubtedly lose some people — but ultimately it works when it gets going. Carnival Row has a strong cast . ... If you're not into fantasy, that probably seems a real hodgepodge of mythos, but Carnival Row succeeds precisely because it's different (and looks expensive while creatively employing its CGI).
  2. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Aug 30, 2019
    75
    Carnival Row, whether airborne or down-to-earth gritty, keeps flexing the power of its oft-breathtaking visuals. The worlds it creates are the greater sums of its whole while the messages it sends can be a little two telegraphed.
  3. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    Aug 30, 2019
    70
    The divided world of the Burgue is harrowing enough to navigate with a killer on the prowl. Then add in the drama’s array of subplots only loosely connecting most parties during the first four episodes of season one, and at times, keeping all the stories in order feels akin to sorting through entrails — though much lovelier, of course, and peddled by extraordinary actors.
  4. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Aug 28, 2019
    70
    The main attraction of “Carnival Row” is, in fact, its incongruities—the familiar in unfamiliar places, an amalgamation of myths, tropes and themes wedded to each other despite their seeming incompatibilities. Not everything works in the show. But when it does, it takes flight.
  5. Reviewed by: Allison Shoemaker
    Aug 27, 2019
    70
    Like many a silly novel, it is a shambles, but an enjoyable one, and as long as you’re up for some full-throated groans (Tourmaline Larou?!) you’ll be rewarded with a long, messy, and satisfying distraction.
  6. Reviewed by: Kristen Baldwin
    Aug 15, 2019
    67
    At times, the mythology can feel needlessly complex, but there is something truly endearing about Carnival’s earnest, irony-free storytelling. Oddly, this splashy streamer production built around a movie star and a former model feels like an underdog — a Cones of Dunshire-style labor of love on a Jack Ryan budget.
  7. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Aug 29, 2019
    65
    While this series also begins with an unwieldy amount of place-setting involving a war that led to the current refugee crisis, “Carnival Row” proves more palatable than “The Dark Crystal.” The Amazon series is easier to follow even as it introduces initially-unconnected characters in multiple social classes. This gives “Carnival Row” plenty of areas to explore. If only it all felt more unique.
  8. Reviewed by: Alexis Gunderson
    Aug 15, 2019
    61
    Amazon Prime’s new allegorical steampunk fantasy is grim, gory, and exhaustingly self-serious.
  9. Reviewed by: Keisha Hatchett
    Aug 27, 2019
    60
    Carnival Row's biggest problem isn't that it's overtly political; it's that this political drama anchored in a fantasy setting uses allegories for racism without tackling the issue head on.
  10. Reviewed by: Vinnie Mancuso
    Aug 15, 2019
    60
    As is, it’s a highly ambitious series sporting a pair of faery wings that can’t carry its own aspirations off the ground.
  11. Reviewed by: Steve Greene
    Aug 30, 2019
    50
    It’s a show with certainly admirable ambitions, but through nearly every aspect of its swirling narrative, “Carnival Row” is less than the sum of its otherworldly parts.
  12. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Aug 29, 2019
    50
    World building is hard enough, but as circus acts go, Carnival Row is like a juggler on a unicycle. It's kind of interesting to watch, but nobody really needs it. Nor does the prejudice directed at the mythological races really come alive, as allegorical as it might feel.
  13. Reviewed by: Danette Chavez
    Aug 28, 2019
    50
    As it stands, season one offers an outline for the type of show Carnival Row wants to be—mixed genres and all—instead of the Thrones successor Amazon is banking on with an early renewal.
  14. Reviewed by: Robert Rorke
    Aug 26, 2019
    50
    Fantasy junkies may be able to get by on this grade-B stimulant until the next great visionary show comes along, but right now the second-season renewal (before premiere) for “Carnival Row” seems extremely rash.
  15. Reviewed by: Niv M. Sultan
    Aug 16, 2019
    50
    Not an episode goes by that doesn’t make one wonder what Carnival Row could have been had it not bitten off far more than it can chew. There’s much to like here—mostly the kaleidoscopic genre-mixing—but not enough to overcome the show’s confused handling of the socio-political allegory at its core. Would that this beast were more thoughtfully stitched together.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Aug 30, 2019
    40
    The series reanimates bits and pieces from different branches of the fantasy genre into a glum and lumbering beast that only occasionally sparks into life.
  17. Reviewed by: Sonia Saraiya
    Aug 16, 2019
    40
    Ultimately, the world is much more interesting than the spree of murders within it, or the love story, such as it is, between Philo and Vinny. Carnival Row has built a fascinating metaphor for colonial power, resettlement, and migration—but doesn't quite know what to do with all that raw material.
  18. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Aug 15, 2019
    40
    This new series reaches for credibility with gruesomeness and exaggeration, falling flat at every turn. It’s painful proof that a genre success cannot be reverse-engineered.
  19. Reviewed by: Judy Berman
    Aug 28, 2019
    30
    What is by turns a Jack the Ripper riff, an Austen-style comedy of manners and a dark political thriller (starring the great Jared Harris), with a Dickensian street gang and a fairy brothel thrown in for kicks. These story lines rarely intersect with one another or with the show’s themes of anti-imperialism and tolerance in a way that justifies the collage of references. And hacky dialogue (“Oh, come now, woman!”) doesn’t help.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 50 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 50
  2. Negative: 8 out of 50
  1. Sep 1, 2019
    2
    A very good production, sfx and steam punk atmosphere, doomed by an overdose of political correctness, cliche anti racism and feministA very good production, sfx and steam punk atmosphere, doomed by an overdose of political correctness, cliche anti racism and feminist awareness. Orlando is a bit bored and that's exactly how I felt, after the first episode. Full Review »
  2. Sep 5, 2019
    2
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. I tried again to watch this. I lowered my score. Scene 1: The faeries are running for their lives through the woods being chased by armed men who are firing on them and closing fast. The faeries have wings. They could fly away to safety. They do not. Apparently they prefer to get shot in the back. All except one who fights back, also confirming that the rest could fly away any time they chose to. The show appears more concerned with virtue signalling than clarity of storytelling. It's a mess. Full Review »
  3. Aug 30, 2019
    10
    Don't trust the critics,this series starts slow but after a couple episodes you will understand the pace,Orlando bloom has done a excellentDon't trust the critics,this series starts slow but after a couple episodes you will understand the pace,Orlando bloom has done a excellent job,production values exceed many big budget movies.overall this show is excellent, not like the critics say.give it a try,you wont be disappointed. Full Review »