We get them every now and again. Gorgeous period pieces that are draped with a thin veil or thick tapestry of Lady Fantasy™: the elusive genre that mixes magic and matriarchy.
Penny Dreadful. A Discovery of Witches. Cursed. Carnival Row. Wynonna Earp. Historical dramas that are not just led by magical women, but that turn the real world settings and eras on their heads, giving the audience a new lens through which to look at the historical persecution of women and other minorities. But also with badass ladies who get to rope or bewitch or ensorcel* hot, unsuspecting dudes … or sometimes other badass ladies. It’s Lady Fantasy™.
*ensorcel is a very hot word
And now it’s time for another. The Nevers is bringing Lady Fantasy™ to HBO next month.
What’s the story?
According to HBO, it’s …
August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular “turns,” all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted “orphans.” To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind.
Sounds good, right? Sounds great. But will it be more than pretty ladies in even prettier costumes running around engaging in badass lady fights and making snarky comments? Can it provide the depth of storytelling we expect from an HBO show through the lens of female writers who want more for our heroines than corsets, crimes and coarse language?
I’m holding out hope. So many times, this genre fails to deliver on too many scores. The dress up is nice, but the male gaze is too evident. The premise is great, but the narrative arc is more of a story plateau. Or, in the case of our most recent watch, A Discovery of Witches, the historical drama works only when the fantasy doesn’t bother to.
I’m putting all my Lady Fantasy™ eggs in The Nevers‘ basket. Hoping that the premium television network can bring all the elements that we are used to reading in fantasy novels like The Fever Series, Gideon the Ninth, Grave Mercy, and more to our screens.
The Nevers premieres on HBO on April 11th.
Beth is the proud sponsor of two little women and a huge fan of fandom. She took 3 years of Latin in high school and now speaks fluent pretension, which fully explains her current preference for gay wizard regency novels. She will roll over for a giant book with a map in the front. She takes comic book recommendations every day but Wednesday and TV recommendations never (she knows what's good).