Warning: this review is more of a ramble than a proper review because I am still too mesmerized after watching this masterpiece of a show to collect my thoughts.
The Sandman on Netflix is a fantasy TV show based on the comics series of the same name by Neil Gaiman and published by DC Comics. It follows the story of Morpheus, a brooding, morally ambiguous, and self-involved anthropomorphic personification who governs the realm of dreams of all living beings.
Netflix Series Review: The Sandman
First of all, the diversity in the cast and by extension, the plot, was something that I absolutely loved. Although I am an advocate for diversity in film and literature, I am always a little apprehensive about the execution as I have seen so many books and shows that got representation horribly wrong **side-eyes Tiny Pretty Things on Netflix**.
In the case of The Sandman, however, the diversity works because of how thoughtfully and sensibly it was woven into the story itself. The characters are well-written and created in such a way that there is no reason why they cannot be portrayed by people of color.
And naturally, that’s what seemed to disappoint most people who did not enjoy the show.
There are talks all over the internet about how The Sandman on Netflix forces down diversity but as a person of color, I genuinely felt that this show handled diversity in the most sensible and sensitive ways. Most importantly, with a show that is set in our modern times, the relationships and people portrayed are an accurate representation of our daily, real lives.
Now on to the rest of the show…
From the very first moment when we are introduced to Dream, I was instantly intrigued. The beautiful CGI-woven fantasy land of The Dreaming, combined with Tom Sturridge’s god-like narration pulled me into the story, which is fast-paced without becoming overwhelming. There’s a lot of world-building and background character information to digest, but because of the masterful storytelling, you are able to keep up and explore the world on your own.
The story begins when Lord Morpheus, also known as The King Of Dreams or simply Dream, ventures out into the human world to capture a rogue nightmare, the Corinthian. Unfortunately, before he can unmake his own creation, he is mistakenly captured by a dark magus–one who was determined to bring back his lost son by capturing Death.
Fearing the consequences of his actions, the magus chooses to keep Dream imprisoned and steals all his possessions–his totems of power: a ruby, a helm, and a pouch full of sand. For years and years, the magus keeps him imprisoned, offering him freedom first in exchange for his son, then in exchange for wealth, prosperity, and power.
The first four episodes of The Sandman on Netflix essentially revolve around Dream’s cruel imprisonment, his escape, and his search for his lost totems of power. And in these four episodes, the show dives deep into many different aspects of human nature.
The first episode, for instance, touches on the cruelty of the magus, which is continued by his well-meaning and ‘well-behaved’ son, Alex, who initially refuses to free Dream for fear of his father’s repercussion, and then later out of fear of Dream himself when he kills his raven. It’s interesting to see how in this episode, Alex tries to justify himself by placing the blame entirely on his prisoner instead of accepting the consequences of his own choices.
Of course, that was only the beginning. The Sandman on Netflix is a careful study of human nature, with unforgettable performances from David Thewlis as John Dee–an unhinged psychopath who wreaks havoc on earth in the name of curing dishonesty, to Dream himself, a rather morally ambiguous being who must learn to take responsibility for his insensitive and occasionally cruel decisions. Tom Sturridge seems to be made for his role as The King Of Dreams–he is brooding, unpredictable, and as haughty as you would expect an immortal god-like being to be.
Final Verdict: Should You Watch The Sandman On Netflix?
As beautiful as this show is, I have to warn you: it can get dark and brutal very fast. Off the top of my head, I have to give out several trigger warnings for graphic animal abuse, body horror, violence, gore, suicide, and death. There are several implications of sexual violence as well, but thankfully it is only implied rather than shown on screen.
However, if you are squeamish about graphic violence like me, don’t be discouraged from watching The Sandman on Netflix. Just like in The Witcher, the scenes containing graphic violence and gore are not abrupt–instead, the cinematic style of storytelling tactfully warns the viewer of any violent scenes that are about to occur, so you can be prepared (and keep your eyes shut for that scene like I did lol).
Safe to say, if you enjoy stories that are bold, dark, and thought-provoking this is a show that you would absolutely fall in love with–regardless of whether you are a big fan of the comics, or entering the realm of dreams for the first time like me.
P.S: My friend Meagan over at Quibbles & Scribbles also wrote a wonderful review of The Sandman on Netflix. Meagan has a lovely blog where she talks about all things books and movies, so make sure to check it out!
Have you watched The Sandman on Netflix yet? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! <3