HBO's New Series ‘The Nevers’ Brings Victorian Supernatural Suspense, But Is It Worth the Watch? Here's My Review

*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*

If there's one thing I love, it's a fantasy series where women with supernatural abilities fight monsters and killers (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). And if there's one thing I love even more, it's a period piece. So, when I heard that the new HBO series The Nevers found a way to combine all these things, well, you can guess my excitement level.

Joss Whedon (the creator of Buffy) is the mind behind the series, which follows a group of "orphans" with extraordinary powers, who want to assimilate into society, while also avoiding the murderous woman who is targeting them. The suspense builds from the very beginning, where a woman stands under a stormy England sky, before jumping (presumably) to her death.

Flash forward three years and this woman, who can see visions of the future, has survived, but her situation is more terrifying than she could have ever imagined. Read on for more details about The Nevers, and whether you should put it at the top of your "must watch" list.

1. What's ‘the Nevers’ About?

The Nevers puts genre-bending to shame, with its sci-fi meets period piece meets action thriller storyline. In HBO's official synopsis, they say, "Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular 'turns,' all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger."

Those who have been granted these supernatural abilities are deemed the "Touched," and they are led by the agile seer Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and her inventive pal, Penance Adair (Ann Skelly). These best friends work to protect these "orphans" against forces who want to see them dead, while also trying to help the Touched find a place to call home.

While the show has plenty of action, Laura Donnelly explained to Showbiz Junkie that it is also charged with social commentary, saying, "One of the main things that drew me to the project was the fact that I felt it spoke a lot to what women experience at the moment. We’re having all of these discussions about, well, obviously about the #MeToo movement...It’s incredibly relevant to the conversations that we’re having today."

2. Who's In The Cast?

Historical drama fans will recognize Laura Donnelly from her three season run as Jenny Murray on Outlander, while her co-star, Ann Skelly, starred in the BBC miniseries Death and Nightingales. The two are joined by Olivia Williams, who plays the wealthy benefactor Lavinia Bidlow, and previously won praise for her performance in The Ghost Writer. Meanwhile, cocky aristocrat Hugo Swan is played by James Norton, who you might recognize for his turn as John Brooke in Greta Gerwig's Little Women adaptation.

Rounding out the cast are even more notable names, including Tom Riley (Starfish), Ben Chaplin (Cinderella), Pip Torrens (The Crown), Amy Manson (Once Upon a Time), Zackary Momoh (Harriet) and Denis O'Hare (American Horror Story).

3. Is It Worth The Watch?

The Nevers is not lacking in suspense or imagination. One minute our leads shoot out of the back of a carriage in a tiny electric car that could be in The Great Gatsby, while the next, a girl who understands an endless number of languages (but can only speak some of them) is nearly kidnapped by masked killers that look like Death Eaters. The show is certainly not for the squeamish, especially if you can't handle bloody hand-to-hand combat or creepy medical malpractice (we won't go into details).

But while it is clear that the series uses a wide range of films and TV shows as inspiration (ranging from The Incredibles to American Horror Story) that is also one of its downfalls. The Nevers attempts so many ideas at once that it gets bogged down and the viewer is left confused. And while the mix of genres can be refreshing, it can also be exhausting. After the first episode introduces us to detectives, giants, oracles, possessed serial killers and magic healers, you almost want to say "Oh, come on" when it ends by hinting that there is alien involvement as well.

And while we're all for ambitious ideas, so much happens that it feels like the star-studded cast isn't given much room to shine. Donnelly dazzles in the role of Amalia, where she masterfully balances the charm and brawn that defines her character. Meanwhile, Amy Manson steals the show with her darting eyes and devilish grin in the sinister role of Maladie. And while I wanted these two to have even more lines, I can't wait to see what they bring as the series progresses.

Although The Nevers sometimes plays too many cards, it wins for the intrigue and mystery that it builds. Even though I was sometimes frustrated by new questions the series posed, that only made me want the answers more. With a powerful cast and creativity in droves, I can't deny that the first episode left me dying to see what happens next, or even just to understand what exactly is going on.

If The Nevers can tie together its many ideas, while bringing social commentary to the forefront, then it could end up being one of the hottest shows of the season. If not, then it may end up crumbling under its monster aspirations.


The Nevers brings dazzling fantasy and edge-of-your-seat action that will be sure to pull viewers in—we just hope these woven fantastical narratives will give us more answers than questions in the end.

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Joel Calfee

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...
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