Despite its uniqueness, the new Arthurian tale just passes the acid test.
This review of Netflix’s Cursed season 1 contains no spoilers. Katherine Langford’s series will be released on July 17, 2020, and we have recapped every single episode for our readers.
From 13 Reasons Why to a leading role in a fantasy Netflix series, Katherine Langford already has the pull-power to bring in audiences due to that leap over the road alone. Taking on the Arthurian legend is quite a feat, especially due to the many forms of the tale. Was this really the time to take it on again? I’ll leave that question for those who have a unique interest, but Cursed does feel different — despite similar elements, it does not feel like a rehash of the same routine.
Focusing on the less-known character in the Arthurian tale gives the story freshness. Katherine Langford plays Nimue who lives among the Fey folk; she has magical powers and there’s intense discrimination against her kind. There’s the old age detest for witches and fantasy beings; the entire set up of the story is built upon outcasts, which is evidently similar to the legend himself. It runs deep into the core in a world that is segregated.
It’s ironic that focusing less on Arthur makes the story worthwhile. Of course, the Sword is ever-present in Cursed but the Netflix series chooses to direct the power to the female lead, narrowing in on her past and the significance of it all. As each chapter progresses, there’s a war seemingly brewing while managing to embrace the Merlin story and the relevance of the Sword.
Despite its uniqueness, the new Arthurian tale just passes the acid test. The writing almost falls over in the early phases due to its convoluted storytelling. Cursed season 1 appears obsessed with cramming in as many arcs as possible but it becomes weak by struggling to balance them all together. The writers appear to want to respect the legendary story but holding its torch as high as possible for it weakens the structure. Season 1 would have benefitted from taking its time with the story and focusing purely on its core, leaving the subplots to fester and be given time to breathe.
Katherine Langford appears to enjoy her leading role and while there’s room for improvement, there’s a clear upwards trajectory for the actor. Devon Terrell (Barry) gives Arthur a good go as well, but I’m already burying my head in the sand ready for the alt-right to get irrationally angry that he’s black — “Oh, they are making Arthur black now — typical!”. And you have to wonder why the IMDb ratings are spiraling downwards due to the approach on the leading roles before the Netflix series is even out.
But with it being a quieter month than usual on Netflix while we all wait for Umbrella Academy season 2, Cursed will do — it’s nowhere near perfect but its attempt to take on an alternative tale with a female, strong lead, makes the whole viewing worthwhile. Proceed with patience, the story beds in eventually for a satisfactory finale.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.