Now that I’ve finished the first season of Cursed and had time to fully digest, I can honestly say that I have a pretty severe case of indigestion. What started with a shaky first episode eventually toppled over, shattered, and became a series of jagged inedible pieces
And now I’m here to give you a report on every serrated bite.
Bite #1: Story
Cursed didn’t have the most auspicious start.
The first episode was supposed to be a jumping-off point for Nimue’s rise to power. However, throughout the rest of the first season we mostly see her stumble, fall, get lost, and then finally end up a few feet away from where she started. Meanwhile, most of the B characters are either fuming that they don’t have the sword of power, planning to steal the sword of power, or Pym, who has a delightful adventure that was pretty great until it connected back to the main story.
There are so many questionable narrative decisions, that I would stagger under the weight of trying to list them all… but I’ll list a few.
- None of the bad guys are even a little sympathetic
- Important moments happen off-screen
- One character starts their face-heel turn because a spider god said so
- Will they / won’t they for absolutely no reason
- The fisherman… just everything about that guy
- Using a pile of bodies every time they want to elicit an emotional response
- Deciding that every character had to play a part in Arthurian bingo
Were any of these the nail in the coffin, no, but each was certainly a nail that was used.
Bite #2: Characters
It’s a little hard to criticize the story without a critique of the Characters. These were the people that were supposed to hold up the story even through its failings. Unfortunately, they were crushed under its weight… or just plain refused to exert any effort and decided being pressed was preferable.
I’ll start with Arthur and Nimue’s hot and cold relationship. While this trope can be irksome across several twenty-two episode seasons, it is especially so when crammed into a ten-episode Netflix (Buh Bum) series. If you miss a scene you might be wondering why they’re making out instead of actively trying to murder each other.
And speaking of Nimue, I need to talk about how great everyone thinks she is despite the fact that she rarely shows any signs of greatness. People she’s barely met fawn all over her like she pulled the sword from the stone, instead of just taking it from her soon to be murdered mother.
It was painful to watch someone who was introduced two scenes ago, singing Nimue’s praises, immediately after she’d just thrown the sword of power into a gaping chasm. It’s especially bad since her defense for throwing the sword was basically…
I mean they hadn’t even gotten the sword back… so, like, maybe do something about that before you pat her on the back.
Now the whole sword throwing decision was not a good one. Unfortunately most of the decisions in this show are painfully similar. It starts to feel like you’re watching a bunch of characters being forced to follow a terrible script instead of a story that’s unfolding organically.
- Told that something is a trap – better walk into it
- Character shows that they’re completely untrustworthy – trust them completely
- Everyone says your decision is insane – make worse decision to prove sanity
- Make a deal with a psychopath – break that deal to show how clever you are
It becomes increasingly frustrating to watch as the show goes on. However, I will say that some of the characters deliver monologues that are actually not bad. They seem to be saying the right thing, at the right time, and with the emotion it deserves.
Unfortunately, these are few and far between.
Bite #3: Time and Scale
I watched this whole show and could not tell you how much time was supposed to have passed for the characters. Hell, I couldn’t tell you how much time was supposed to have passed between scenes. People seem to teleport about the countryside. Sometimes people talk about someone from a previous scene like they haven’t seen them in weeks, and other times things that happened last episode were the day before… even if those two events are linked.
And don’t get me started on the scale of things…
But since you did.
- The red paladins are said to have 5000 or more men, however they are both overstaffed when winning, and understaffed when the good guys need a win.
- Uther supposedly has an army of his own, but is worried about Schrodinger’s red paladin army.
- The Vikings (that’s right Vikings) Have enough men to rival either army, but all we ever see are their boats and tents. Which is great for them I guess, but less great if you’re trying to make them seem threatening.
- The Fey are simultaneously on the verge of extinction, and ready to go to war with the Vikings, Paladins, and Uther because they have Nimue backing them… you know… the girl who chucked the sword of power down a hole.
All of this makes for confusing television.
Should I be concerned that the Fey lost twenty guys? I’m pretty sure that’s, like, half the people they had left… oh, they have hundreds suddenly, cool I guess they’re… I only see like thirty guys. Are you sure…
Netflix Bit Off More Than It Could Chew with Cursed
Cursed showed some potential in its early episodes, but that potential was smothered before it could come to fruition. Whichever bite you think was responsible for this, it wasn’t. It was all of them at the same time.
I don’t lay this at the feet of the actors or even the writers (not entirely anyway). I lay this mess of a show on how Netflix (Buh Bum) structures it’s shows (and then a little on the writers).
Ten hour-long episodes are perfect for some shows, but not for others. This show was, at least to my mind, not written with Netflix (Buh Bum) in mind. It was clearly a twenty-two-episode CW show that got lost, only to find itself mangled beyond recognition and crammed into ten episodes.
And so, I beseech the CW; save this show from Netflix (Buh Bum).
You can turn this hot mess into a perfectly serviceable show about hot young people making out when they should be fighting a war.
I know you can do it, because I’ve seen the 100… which is down to, like, five people now.