Low Key


Let's Talk About the Tricky Racial Metaphors of 'Carnival Row'

Season 1, Ep. 40

Fae! Pucks! Critches! This week on the "Low Key" podcast, we talk about these and other words we think might be racial slurs in the world of "Carnival Row," Amazon's unique take on bigotry and immigration.

The new series examines a star-crossed relationship between a human detective named Philo (Orlando Bloom) and a winged fae named Vignette (Cara Delevigne) that is filled with metaphors we're trying very hard to follow. The show creates a vast and complex fictional world, then populates it with storylines that seem oddly reminiscent of things happening in America today.

Every week on "Low Key," we look for pop culture subtleties, often through a racial lens, so "Carnival Row" was kind of made for us. It's filled with nuance, and rewards viewers for patience and close attention. Our favorite subplot involves the "there goes the neighborhood" arrival or the mysterious puck Mr. Agreus (David Gyasi), who draws the intense interest of privileged neighbor (and master to Vignette) Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant).

We're also caught very off-guard by a subplot involving fae fetishist Jonah Breakspear (Arty Froushan), son of the eminent Absalom Breakspear (Jared Harris). Whether you like "Carnival Row" or not -- and we do -- it's a lot of fun to talk about.

Here are some of the main points of our conversation, with timestamps:

5:30: Apologies to Downton Abbey

7:05: Praise for Tamzin Merchant

8:45: “If you were to make like an eight-episode porn scene where sex only happened in the seventh episode? If you have the dedication to watch that kind of pornography, you’ve got it. ‘Carnival Row’ has it.” 

16:38: Some thoughts on the precarious Spurnrose situation

17:10: “The only-person-to-survive thing felt unnecessary.”

30:00: A pretty big spoiler

36:51: Someone yells "YEAH!" a little too loud

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