Watch Barkskins

  • TV-MA
  • 2020
  • 1 Season
  • 7.3  (2,616)

Barkskins is a riveting historical drama from National Geographic that takes viewers on an epic journey through the wilds of New France in the late 17th century. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Annie Proulx, the show is a gripping exploration of a time and place where the relationship between humans and the natural world was just beginning to fracture.

The show's ensemble cast is led by acclaimed British actor David Thewlis, who plays the shrewd and cunning Monsieur Claude Trepagny, a wealthy landowner in the colony of Quebec. Trepagny is a complicated figure, driven by ambition and a fierce desire to protect his own interests at all costs. But as the show unfolds, we come to see that he is also capable of acts of kindness and selflessness, especially when it comes to his young French-Canadian wife, Melissande (played by Lily Sullivan), whom he loves deeply despite their cultural differences.

Opposite Thewlis is the legendary Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Mathilde Geffard, a formidable businesswoman who owns a trading post in the remote forest settlement of Wobik. Mathilde is a sharp-tongued survivor, who has learned to hold her own amid the rough-and-tumble world of the fur trade, but she is also haunted by a tragic past and a deep sense of loneliness that make her both compelling and empathetic.

Another standout performance in Barkskins comes from Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard, who plays the rugged and charismatic René Sel (pronounced 'selle'), a woodsman and fur trapper whose story serves as the show's emotional center. René is a man of many secrets, but he is also deeply committed to his companions and to the indigenous people who inhabit the forest he calls home. As the show goes on, we see him struggle to navigate the complex intercultural dynamics that define life in the colony, all while trying to protect his burgeoning relationship with the fiercely independent and courageous Mari (played by Tallulah Haddon), a young Mi'kmaq woman whose own story is one of pain, resilience, and hope.

Beyond its rich tapestry of characters and performances, Barkskins is also a show that excels in its attention to period detail and world-building. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the virgin forest that stretches from the St. Lawrence River to the Mississippi Delta, the show is a feast for the eyes, with stunning cinematography, art direction, and costume design that transport viewers back in time. From the cramped quarters of the trading posts to the vast expanses of the wilderness, every scene in Barkskins feels authentic and immersive, evoking the harsh beauty of a land that was once teeming with life.

But for all its beauty, Barkskins is also a show that grapples with complex themes and sociopolitical issues that resonate strongly with our own time. The show tackles questions of exploitation, power, and greed, exploring the ways in which the fur trade brought about the displacement and destruction of indigenous cultures and ecologies. It also explores themes of love, loss, and identity, as characters confront their own sense of belonging in a world that is rapidly changing around them.

In short, Barkskins is a stunning achievement in historical storytelling, a show that combines expert craft with a deeply felt sense of purpose. With its deep roster of talent, vivid world-building, and nuanced exploration of timeless themes, it is a show that will stand the test of time and remain relevant long after its season has come to a close.

Barkskins is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (8 episodes). The series first aired on May 25, 2020.

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The Black Sun
8. The Black Sun
June 15, 2020
As winter looms, preparations begin for Trepagny and Melissande's wedding.
Bees in a Bottle
7. Bees in a Bottle
June 15, 2020
Cooke and Mother Sabrine embark on a dangerous quest; Trepagny and Melissande reunite.
The Wobble
6. The Wobble
June 8, 2020
Trepagny and Bouchard attempt a daring rescue mission and incite war with the Iroquois.
5. Buttermilk
June 8, 2020
Trepagny solicits the help of the Wendats, while Mathilde consolidates power in Wobik.
The Law of Two
4. The Law of Two
June 1, 2020
The Iroquois come to Wobik to collect their dead. Trepagny leads Melissande back to the Doma. Delphine embarks on a new life with Pierre Gasquet.
The Sugared Plum
3. The Sugared Plum
June 1, 2020
Mathilde gets back to business after her attack, while Goames hunts for answers. Trepagny joins the eligible men of Wobik for a night of matchmaking.
The Turtle King
2. The Turtle King
May 25, 2020
Duquet escapes indentured servitude and finds himself at the mercy of the vast forest. Elsewhere, Goames and Yvon make a chilling discovery.
New France
1. New France
May 25, 2020
In the series premiere, a boat arrives in Wobik carrying indentured servants and “Filles du Roi.” Trepagny travels to town to collect his new men.
Where to Watch Barkskins
Barkskins is available for streaming on the National Geographic website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Barkskins on demand at Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    May 25, 2020
  • IMDB Rating
    7.3  (2,616)