Netflix’s “Cursed,” based on the graphic novel of the same name, is designed as a prequel to the familiar saga of King Arthur. The show, written by Frank Miller and TV showrunner Tom Wheeler, focuses on the Lady of the Lake, played by Katherine Langford of “13 Reasons Why” fame.
I am a huge fantasy fan, but I can’t say that fantasy has always been very kind to women. “Lord of the Rings” does not have many women and the ones that are there are purely there to be of service to the male characters, and I love “Game of Thrones” but I could write an entire book just on how horrible that show treated their female characters. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about “Cursed.” A fantasy show with a female lead? Sign me up!
Even though I did just claim to be a fantasy fan, the only King Arthur-related content I have consumed begins and ends with the animated film “Quest for Camelot.” Before “Cursed” I knew that Arthur pulled a sword from a stone and was named the one true king, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. I honestly don’t know what it would be like to watch this show as a King Arthur buff, but I can say that you don’t need to be one to enjoy it.
”Cursed” also shows viewers that fantasy can and should be more diverse. I especially loved that they cast Black actors to play Arthur (Devon Terell) and Morgana (Shalom Brune-Franklin), two essential roles in the classic legend. I hope that other fantasy shows and movies going forward will follow suit.
Some standout performances for me include Katherine Langford as Nimue, Peter Mullan as Father Carden, Gustaf Skarsgård as Merlin, Lily Newmark as Pym, and Devon Terell as Arthur. Okay hear me out, I know that is a lot of people but I just really loved all of them! Katherine Langford gave Nimue this perfect combination of strong and vulnerable that made her such an inspiring and believable protagonist. Peter Mullan delivers an incredible performance in everything I’ve seen him in, and although he wasn’t given as much to do as he normally does with Father Carden, he does the best he can with a pretty two-dimensional character. Next up is Gustaf Skarsgård, who I found incredibly captivating as Merlin. I believed that all of those people would be charmed by him; I certainly was. As for Lily Newmark as Pym, sometimes the tone of her scenes were so different from the seriousness of the rest of the show that they were jarring, but fun nonetheless. I also very much enjoyed Devon Terell as Arthur and I definitely plan to follow his career going forward.
Overall, I was very pleased with “Cursed.” I have already recommended this show to many, and plan to continue doing so. It kept me engaged, it was fun for non-Arthurian Legend fans like myself, and it was inclusive. Fascinating fantasy stories can be told from a female perspective, they can be told from the perspective of people of color, they just have to be given the chance.