Why Cursed, Netflix TV series, is it a failed work that does not know what story it wants to tell and is it a bad example of a fantasy series?

We start from an assumption: I haven't finished seeing Cursed. I stopped at the fifth episode, then I saw the rest in pinch and bite. And no, I don't regret interrupting the viewing, because, from what I have seen of the last few episodes, my fear has been confirmed: Cursed it's not worth the hours it takes to see it.

For this reason, I invoked my spectator's right to stop watching. Still, I still want to spend two words on this series because I think that Cursed has so many problems that it is possible to bring up a reflection that is not clear in the air even if only on the basis of the first five episodes.

So why is Netflix's new fantasy series based on the Arthurian cycle in my opinion a bad example of how to write a fantasy work? And why do I consider Cursed a work of failure also from a narrative point of view? Let's see'!


The plot of Cursed In short

As just mentioned, Cursed is a Netflix TV series that wants to rework the Arthurian cycle, imagining what could have happened if Excalibur's first mistress had been a woman.

Cursed follows the story of Nimue, a young girl of the Fey people, who lives peacefully under the reign of Uther Pendragon. But one day, the Church began to extend its power and foment human fear and prejudice towards the Fey. Thus, i Paladins Rossi attack the village of Nimue, which is one of the few to manage to escape, bringing with it the Sword of Power entrusted to her by her mother, with a clear task: to bring the sword to Merlin.

So, we follow Nimue's search for Merlin, who will find herself being helped (but not without problems!) By a young mercenary named Arthur, who wants to be a knight, and then to his sister Morgana, witch raised in a convent.

But the situation is complex. The Paladini Rossi, strong of their mysterious Weeping monk, are taking control of the kingdom and the surviving Fey have formed a resistance under the protection of the mysterious Green Knight. Meanwhile, King Uther sees his disputed kingdom between the Church, the Viking king Cumber, the Viking pirate Red Lance and the Leper King Rugen. And in all this Merlin is an alcoholic who has lost his powers, but who has seen the signs of change and wants to reforg the Sword of Power to give it to the true sovereign.

Nimue will have to guide its people towards salvation and prevent the Church from taking possession of the Sword of Power.

Know that in Cursed you will have the privilege of seeing Merlin's butt in the first episode. Yes, Vikings' Floki is Merlin
Know that in Cursed you will have the privilege of seeing Merlin's butt in the first episode. Yes, Floki's Vikings it's Merlin

A series that has no identity of its own: the biggest problem with Cursed

The biggest problem of Cursed it is not the trite and retracted theme: you don't need to be original to write a good story. The Arthurian myth has been written, rewritten, elaborated and reworked in all possible keys, from the most historically faithful to the most subversive. And the problem is not even the botched and confusing worldbuilding: for a good story you can forgive a weak worldbuilding, although certainly this will not be an area in which praise will be woven.

No, the biggest problem Cursed is that has not decided what it wants to be.

A series that passes from one narrative typology to another

It is a television series taken from a comic by Frank Miller, raw and over the top. But yet, Cursed most of the time he can't be raw and over the top. Most of the time, however, this series oscillates between being one teenage history to the Letter to the King, And a gritty story and focused on the dramas of the characters, at Game of Thrones. And in all this, sometimes we see some really raw and over the top, like the root pulled by force out of the throat of a Red Paladin, or the tooth extracted in Nimue. We even find some references typically Millerian, like the very trash splashes of blood on the screen at the end of the first episode, which immediately make you think of 300.

However, Cursed he cannot leave his feet on only one of these narrative typologies, trying instead to change too many pairs of shoes and to be too many different things. Therefore, within the single episodes there are very clear leaps of tone, which make the narrative uneven and superficial, since none of these narrative typologies can be explored in depth. The teenage story can not be light enough to relax, while the drama Game of Thrones it is too little present and in-depth to leave its mark. In all this, the flashes above the millerian lines are so isolated and sudden that they are more puzzled than entertained.

Too little Arthurian, too little fantasy, too little millerian

In this sense, Cursed it seemed to me a fantasy series that is ashamed of itself and what it wants to tell, as well as its starting material. He wants to be Arcturian, but most of the time we struggle to have recognizable elements of the Arcturian cycle. Furthermore, the characters immediately associated with this cycle (such as Artù and Morgana) are taken on paths and personalities so different from the starting material that they could also have been called Asparagus and Macarena and we would not have noticed the difference.

Cursed then it would like to be a fantasy series, with magic and magical creatures. However, most of the time the magical creatures they do not differ in anything from humans, except for their particular appearance. In addition, the magic it is presented from the first episode, but is generally used very little or in illogical contexts. For example, it makes no sense that, in the first episode, Nimue consciously used magic to cheat dice, but then fails to use it to defend herself or her mother from the attack of the Red Paladins. In this sense, it is difficult to understand how much this magic can be used in a conscious way and how much it is the result of Nimue's “belly” reactions.

Furthermore, Cursed would like to pay homage to Miller 's graphic novel from which it is inspired, but fails to maintain the tone over the top of this author. Therefore, all of Miller's trashy and exaggerated touches, like the blood on the screen, the characters with an out-of-this-world look and explicit violence do not mix well with the rest of the narration, ending up out of tune. Self Cursed had taken the narrative path of 300 or, always to be on the trash, exaggerated and Arthurian, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, always staying over the top, it would have been a much more interesting and cohesive product with its own personality.

Nimue and Arthur. The fact that Arthur is black is the only thing in Cursed that is not problematic: if Fey exists in Britain, black people can also exist.
Nimue and Arthur. The fact that Arthur is black is the only thing about Cursed not to be problematic: if Fey exist in Britain, black people can exist too.

Too many characters, too little screentime

As far as the characters are concerned, we are also faced with a very unclear story about what he would like to tell.

A protagonist with a background too large and too little time to develop it

Nimue, the protagonist, has a background that would be enough to characterize two different characters.

In fact, Nimue is part of one magical race discriminated against by humans, the Fey, and is the chosen one of Excalibur, the sword of power of his people who, however, should also choose the king of Britain. But not only: Nimue has also been cursed by the Dark Ones, evil entities, thus also obtaining additional magical powers compared to those that normally have the Fey of his species, and for this reason he is discriminated against by his fellow villagers.

You will understand that to better develop all the features of Nimue, Cursed should devote a lot of screentime. But this does not happen, because the series divides most of its time following the (dis) adventures of three characters: Nimue, Merlin and Arthur. But not only: to their storylines there are also those of secondary characters, such as Morgana, Pym, the Weeping Monk, Uther Pendragon and then, subsequently, also those of various Viking characters.

You will understand, therefore, that in Cursed there is too much meat on the fire and that most of these slices will not be able to cook properly during the first season. But most of all, there is not enough time for the protagonist to develop well and naturally.

The other characters: too many and too little depth

Fortunately, the other co-stars, Arthur e Merlin, do not have equally dense backgrounds. However, their screentime is never enough to seriously investigate them. Furthermore, neither of them is helped by the script, which engages them in dialogues that are often tedious, or not very credible, or in which they are inconsistent with what they had said only a few scenes before.

You can therefore understand how weak the characterization of the other secondary characters is, which tend to be two-dimensional and with too little screentime. pym, Nimue's pragmatic childhood friend, is perhaps the most interesting character, but she is reduced to a mere tool to introduce the Vikings. Morgana, sister of Arthur raised in the convent, has the potential to be a beautiful character, but is too often put aside.

As for the antagonists, then, the situation is not better. The Weeping monk, who we later discover to be Lancelot, would like to have the mysterious and tormented air, but ends up being the typical edgy guy, darkettone and "bad but with a tragic past and therefore actually good". THE Paladins Rossi and the whole Church are a cluster of characters outlined only in negative hues, resulting in an anonymous cluster of StrontiumsTM, ready to take it out on anyone, even with other members of their own order. Their fanaticism then boils down to three expressions: being bullies, being psychopaths and being power-hungry politicians.

The Weeping Monk, aka Lancelot, aka "The emo still exist" by Cursed
The Weeping Monk, aka Lancelot, aka "Emo Still Exist" by Cursed

How Cursed tells a fantasy world

There would be plenty of negative things to say again Cursed, but I will try to summarize them quickly.

Direction, costumes and make-up: between quality and inability

The direction has an extremely fluctuating quality. We move from elaborate sequence plans that want to resume the Battle of the Bastards of Game of Thrones, not to make a hunter appear from the direction from which his arrow came. And, I emphasize, these two examples both come from the same episode: the first. Not even the use of animated interludes, visually very cute, it is constant. For example, the first half of the second episode sees many of them, even during very short transitions, but in the second half they are no longer seen, even in transitions in which the need would have been felt, as when Arthur brings a sleeping Nimue to the convent .

As for the technical department, i morals and trick they are both well made and are certainly the strong point of the series. The Fey are very well done, visually, and in general the costumes of the characters reflect very well their role and their personality. However, the special effects they are unwatchable, and fortunately also relatively limited.

Worldbuilding: a smoothie from the Middle AgesTM and Fantasy StuffTM

A film with such an inconsistent tone, then, is not even helped by its worldbuilding, which is extremely chaotic and struggles to mix fantasy elements with historical ones.

It is evident that we are in one Britannia fantasy and cosmopolitan, which has little to do with the historical one or with that of the Arthurian cycle. In fact, in this Britain live the Fey, who are a generic people of "fairy" creatures, which basically only means that they are not human. In fact, it would seem that relatively few of the Fey use magic and that there is a certain bias even against who actually has magical powers, like Nimue.

For the rest, the Fey are a shake of fantastic humanoid beings and they go from women-fairies-moths to people with scales in their faces, then going from people with horns and / or hooves to people like Nimue, who are completely identical to humans until they use their magical powers. With these people, then, they have very little in common other fantastic beings such as the King of the Lepers, who would seem to live in the world of the dead or underground, it is not clear.

This Britannia is crossed by the fantasy version of peoples and institutions that really existed, which are presented in one version sweetened and superficial. The Church of Rome is made up of Franciscan-like men dressed in red and with the ardor of a Counter-Reformation that has not yet taken place. The Vikings are marauders that came straight out of Vikings. In general, then, all the pseudo-historical and visual references of Cursed refer to a smoothie of psudo-medieval references. The Holy Roman Empire (800) coexists with the Vikings (1000), who coexist with the clothes of Henry VIII (1500) of Arthur's uncle, who coexists with the Arthurian cycle inspired by the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England (XNUMXth century).

In short, it is a crowded worldbuilding, for a series that does not know what it wants to tell.

Some Cursed fantasy-Vikings. All in all, the costumes and makeup are very beautiful
Some fantasy-Vikings of Cursed. All in all, the costumes and makeup are very beautiful

Conclusions: Cursed it is a series that does not deserve to be seen

Definitely, Cursed has not really understood the philosophy of "less is more". It seems evident that in Cursed innumerable elements of lore have been added to diversify and complicate the world, but without seeking any kind of coherence between these elements, or of originality in their representation, in the illusion that a rich fantasy world is also automatically a well-built fantasy world.

The constant internal inconsistency is not even made bearable by a light-hearted or consciously trashy tone: Cursed it takes a lot of seriously and really wants to present itself as a deep and well-made product. The problem is that Cursed it is not well done, it is not coherent and it is not carefully constructed.

This TV series defrauds superfluous elements with every single episode, adding meat to the fire just to cover the fact that their main steak, namely Nimue and Excalibur, is actually very thin. But so in the end, Cursed is a mixed grill of fantasy, fantasy and Arthurian cycle which, however, has been cooked badly and has become one shapeless mush.

Series like Cursed remind us how easy it is to write good fantasy. It is not enough to take a famous mythology, sprinkle it with a little more magic and more or less progressive arguments to make neither a good story, nor a good fantasy story. In this sense, Letter to the King, in its simplicity and in all its shortcomings, it is better than Cursed, As far as I am concerned. Also The Witcher, in its plasticity to the Xena, it is far better than Cursed.

As far as I'm concerned, I hope that, sooner or later, we will finally be able to see the television or film version of stories and fantasy worldbuilding that really deserve such a transposition, and that will be able to do justice to the name of this genre. Because fantasy deserves better and can offer better. Always if Netflix is ​​interested in producing quality fantasy.