Netflix Picks: Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful”

A great thriller can induce a condition that causes you to draw the blinds and pull up the covers. This condition I refer to, of course, is known as “Netflix Binge Watching”. The Showtime series Penny Dreadful has proven to be one of these shows that has this power.

Since its debut in 2014 it has had a large public following. Unfortunately, the show is short compared to some other series on Netflix. Penny only is three seasons long but that does not take away from the fact that there is a fully functional storyline in those three seasons.

In the dark, seedy underworld of the late 1800s London setting, the story unfolds in a way that always leaves the viewer on the edge of their seat. Vanessa Ives, the main protagonist, is accompanied by a band of men to fight a common evil. This definition of evil is often muddied by the personal matters of her team. Vampires, werewolves and witches are incorporated into the story to make it more of a tale of monsters in plain sight than that of lore.

Penny incorporates a number of techniques to make the series unique. The use of period relevant dialogue is stunning. At first it is hard to grasp the language of the time because it is written in such a fluent and beautiful way. But as the seasons go on you find yourself picking up on small innuendos and vernacular that makes the series that much better.

Former MSU student and pharmacy technician graduate at South Central college Ashley Bauer shares in the love for this series. Bauer admits that it only took her one week to finish all three seasons. She even had to subscribe to a free one-week trial to finish the third season because it is not on Netflix.

Penny is very addicting,” Bauer said.

Ethan Chandler, an American Wild West actor, was her favorite character because of his mysterious past and his attention to detail throughout the show. The second season was Bauer’s favorite because of how much backstory was yet to be told from the first season.

Another unique attribute of the series that Bauer notes is the literary and historical use of characters. Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein is a main character along with Dorian Grey who is in Oscar Wilde’s famous book. Dr. Jekyll is also brought to life in the series. These characters interact with each other in the series and their stories are told as if they are co-dependant on each other. The use of familiar characters makes for a lot of inquiry and “fill in the blank” moments for the viewer.

The only problem with the series that Bauer could find was that it was cut short by the creator John Logan.

“I think it would have lasted at least eight seasons,” Bauer said, noting that a lot of side stories could have been told about lesser characters. But the show still packs a punch that keeps the viewer wanting more. Fans of classic literature along with those that are just looking for a good show to binge on will rejoice at this truly exceptional Netflix pick.


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