Raunch Review: Carnival Row

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews. Welcome.


The Author: René EchevarriaTravis Beacham

Work in Question: Carnival Row

The Profanity: “Critch”


In the world of Burgue from Amazon’s fantasy-fueled steampunk fairytale Carnival Row, humans live alongside mythical creatures who have fled their war-torn homeland. As you expect with any setting featuring this sort of mass immigration of refugees, there are examinations of xenophobia, bigotry, classism, and segregation. Most humans dislike these newcomers, and throughout the series, the viewer witnesses it from a variety of perspectives that of the commoner, law enforcement, and the elite.

As you’d expect, this plays out often in language, particularly with the word “critch.” Like any language designed to dehumanize, “critch” is the catchall term for any non-human species. It’s derived from “creature” and wielded with a particular venom by the various bullies throughout the series.

This is an interesting slur, focusing more on a class of people rather than a particular species. However, those species-specific insults are also in Carnival Row’s world as well: “Puck” being faun-specific, “Pix” for the Faerie, “Brute” for the Trow, and so on. And in many ways, these work better because they focus on each species rather than a random group. So “critch” exists in an odd space, clearly meant to harm and degrade, but it’s also so broad it loses some of the edge, which would make a slur like this so pernicious. Falls a little flat under scrutiny.

Final Score: 3.5


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Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.