Watch Carnivale

  • TV-MA
  • 2003
  • 2 Seasons
  • 8.4  (46,169)

Carnivale was an Emmy award-winning television series that aired on HBO from 2003 to 2005. The show was created by Daniel Knauf and starred Nick Stahl, Michael J. Anderson, Adrienne Barbeau, Patrick Bauchau, Clancy Brown, Debra Christofferson, Tim DeKay, Clea DuVall, Cynthia Ettinger, John Fleck, Carla Gallo, Toby Huss, Amy Madigan, Diane Salinger, Steben Twins, Brian Turk, and Ralph Waite, among others.

The show was set during the Great Depression in the 1930s and focused on two main storylines that eventually converged. The first storyline followed Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl), a young man with mysterious powers who joins a traveling carnival called Carnivale. The carnival is led by Samson (Michael J. Anderson), a dwarf, who is both the carnival's boss and spiritual leader. The carnival's performers are a mix of freaks, con artists, and scam artists, each with their own goals and secrets. Ben's arrival at the carnival sparks a series of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

The second storyline revolves around Brother Justin (Clancy Brown), a minister in California, who has his own mysterious powers. As the story progresses, his path intersects with Ben's, and the two become intertwined in a supernatural battle of good versus evil. The show also features Adrienne Barbeau as Ruthie, a carnival worker, Clea DuVall and Cynthia Ettinger as a mother and daughter who have their own mystic talents, and John Fleck as Gecko, a carnival worker who is both loyal and treacherous.

The show's themes revolve around the supernatural, faith, destiny, and morality. The characters are complex and have ambiguous motivations, making it hard to tell who is good and who is bad. The show deals with the harsh realities of the Depression era, and it is clear that the carnival workers are struggling just to survive. The show's dark and murky atmosphere is perfectly suited to the time period and the supernatural elements of the story.

One of the show's strengths is the slow-burn storyline that builds over time. Each episode reveals something new about each character, and the intricate web of relationships and motivations keep the viewer engaged throughout the two-season run. The dialogue is well-written and realistic, and the acting is uniformly excellent. The show is visually stunning, with moody lighting and exquisite period detail.

Carnivale was a critical success during its run, but it struggled to find a wider audience. The show was expensive to produce, and after two seasons, it was canceled due to low ratings. However, the show has gained a dedicated following over the years, and its cult status has only grown since its cancellation.

Fans of the show appreciate its atmospheric storytelling, complex characters, and supernatural elements. The show's exploration of morality and faith also resonates with a lot of viewers, and the show's overarching themes are still relevant today. The show's ending was controversial, and it left some questions unanswered, which only adds to its mystique.

In conclusion, Carnivale was a groundbreaking show that explored complex themes through its supernatural storytelling. The show's intricate web of relationships and moral ambiguity kept viewers engaged throughout, and the show's haunting atmosphere and exquisite production design made it a visual feast. While it was canceled after only two seasons, the show's cult following has only grown over the years, and it remains a classic of the television landscape.

Carnivale is a series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on September 14, 2003.

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New Canaan, CA
12. New Canaan, CA
March 27, 2005
As the world grows smaller, Samson devises a grand plan; Justin forces Iris to face her fear of heights; Stroud wants to protect Justin; Sofie finds herself in the dark; Rita Sue is touched by Samson's generosity; Ben performs his most important healings.
Outside New Canaan
11. Outside New Canaan
March 20, 2005
When Samson announces the carnival's next stop, Lila challenges his authority; Stumpy and Rita fear dark days to come; and Libby urges Jones to reveal a secret to the troupe. As Justin baptizes his converts, a new tragedy rises to the surface; Ben volunteers to stack firewood; Sofie sees a face from her past; Iris welcomes a chance to sponsor some fun; and Justin is startled by a development in the migrant camp.
Cheyenne, WY
10. Cheyenne, WY
March 13, 2005
Libby struggles to stick to her alibi, buckling under the weight of Rita Sue's superiority; Jones goes for a ride with Ben; Ruthie delivers a nocturnal message to Lila; Talbot- Smith intercepts a near disaster for Justin and reneges on a deal with Scudder; Iris discovers a relative; Stroud increases security with his "Knights of Jericho," and Justin does some backseat driving.
Lincoln Highway
9. Lincoln Highway
March 6, 2005
Ben and Jones learn that justice is "for the birds"; Ruthie's visitor leaves lipstick traces; Lila tries to reach Lodz; Sofie finds salvation in her work; Iris takes Eleanor on a picnic; Balthus misses a big chance; Stroud keeps the morphine flowing; and when chaos breaks out during a public speech, Justin shocks the crowd with forgiveness.
Outskirts, Damascus, NE
8. Outskirts, Damascus, NE
February 27, 2005
Ben and Samson have a heated argument; Iris and Justin back a local politician; Rita Sue tries to play hardball with Stumpy's debt collector; Libby shocks her parents with an announcement; Ruthie seeks refuge in the safety of her trailer; Smith interprets a bad sign for Justin; Stroud nurses a wound; Jones is blamed for an accident; and Sofie finds a new job.
Damascus, NE
7. Damascus, NE
February 20, 2005
Justin and Iris placate Bishop McNaughton with a hearty breakfast; Ben follows his visions to a seedy hotel with Stroud hot on his tail; Sabina airs her dirty laundry with Lila; Libby and Rita Sue do some self-reflection; Iris displays her strength to Norman; the troupe worries about Sofie; Libby gives Jones special treatment; and Samson is distracted while Management tries to destroy a gift from Ben.
The Road to Damascus
6. The Road to Damascus
February 13, 2005
The troupe breaks bread with another carnival and Samson makes a deal with an old friend named Sabina; Iris and Justin prepare for their most difficult sermon yet; Stumpy panics as Rita Sue goes on a charity mission; Jones and Stumpy both try to defend Libby's honor; Lila makes a new friend; and Ben and Sofie dance around family issues.
Creed, OK
5. Creed, OK
February 6, 2005
Justin is pushed by Dolan to make a difficult decision; Iris gives an important dictation; Ben has a nightmare visit with a mask-maker; Ruthie shares her visions with Sofie, who decides to help Ben; Rita Sue is generous with Stumpy, who bets on a big fight; Libby fishes for a compliment from Jones; Stroud continues his pursuit of Ben; and Justin receives a mysterious gift that gives him a new perspective.
Old Cherry Blossom Road
4. Old Cherry Blossom Road
January 30, 2005
A relative of Ben's reveals to him dark family secrets - and the face of death. Stroud reports on his progress to Justin, who now sees the threat Ben poses; Balthus bears witness to more of Justin's abuse of power; and Iris beseeches Justin not to keep secrets, though she's desperate to protect her own. Meanwhile, Burley wants to do business with Rita Sue, as Stumpy ponders an even more distasteful scheme to feed the local hungry men; Lila finds a wealth of clues in Lodz's trailer; Ruthie continues to see visions; and Libby dances around the tension with Jonesy, who gives Sofie a new assignment.
Ingram, TX
3. Ingram, TX
January 23, 2005
As Ben searches for a mysterious next link, Justin tends to his flock. Meanwhile, Stroud investigates a mining accident that left all but one man dead; Sofie refuses to read Ben's tarot but the cards have an agenda of their own; Dolan grills another arson witness; Ruthie is visited by a mysterious shadow; Stumpy peddles the girls to a barely legal audience; Gabriel assists Ruthie in her latest death- defying act; and Ben receives a rough welcome when he stumbles upon distant relatives.
Alamogordo, N.M.
2. Alamogordo, N.M.
January 16, 2005
Stroud hits the road on his mission, making rapid progress. Ben seeks out a former associate of Scudder's named Father Kerrigan, a disturbed artist whose "vision" Ben has seen before. Justin and Iris welcome a beautiful new "servant" into their home. Meanwhile Samson threatens to replace Stumpy, who works Rita Sue and Libby harder than ever; Sofie seeks comfort in manual labor, to the men's chagrin; Lila challenges Samson's easy dismissal of Lodz; Management confides in Ben a secret fear; and Justin makes another late-night visit to Chinatown.
Los Moscos
1. Los Moscos
January 9, 2005
As Brother Justin spreads his radio message to the weak and huddled masses, his word reaches the ears of a new "apostle" - prison inmate Varlyn Stroud - and occultist Wilfred Talbot Smith, who pushes him to seek out the elusive Henry Scudder. Meanwhile, Management also urges Ben to find his father, showing him visions of the apocalyptic horrors that otherwise threaten. Tommy Dolan does some sleuthing on the Dignity Church arson; Reverend Balthus is stricken ill; and Lila worries about Lodz's whereabouts. Meanwhile, Samson does his best to quell suspicions among the troupe.
Where to Watch Carnivale
Carnivale is available for streaming on the HBO website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Carnivale on demand at Max, Amazon Prime, Amazon, HBO NOW, Vudu, Google Play and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    September 14, 2003
  • IMDB Rating
    8.4  (46,169)