Emerald City: A Gritty Re-Imagining of The Wizard of Oz

We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore: from visionary director Tarsem Singh comes a dark and twisted take on Frank Baum’s classic tale “The Wizard of Oz”. If you’re a fan of Once Upon a Time or The Shannara Chronicles, this 10-part fantasy series will sweep you up like a tornado…

Emerald City (2017): Directed by Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Fall); 10 episodes à 45mins.; starring Adria Arjona (True Detective), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Mr. Selfridge), Ana Ularu, Joely Richardson (The Patriot), Vincent D’Onofrio, Isabel Lucas (Immortals).

For Fans of: The Wizard of Oz, The Shannara Chronicles, Oz the Great and Powerful, Once Upon a Time, Tarsem Singh’s visual style.

I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the Old Hollywood classic The Wizard of Oz, so when I found out there was going to be a new take on the story, and one helmed by Tarsem Singh no less, I was all too ready to journey along the Yellow Brick Road again. Here are five reasons why you should join me…

1. It’s an inventive adaptation of Frank Baum’s novels

The origin stories for the lion, the tin-man and the scarecrow are particularly twisted and clever. Even Toto is re-cast as a K9 German Shepherd.

2. It’s a clever commentary on current US social politics

The show is a friendly reminder that nothing is more fragile than the male ego: the Wizard is trying his damnest to outlaw magic – which, incidentally, is reserved for women – because he feels threatened by it as he himself is a fraud and does not have any. Also, the Wizard is a total creep who can’t keep his dick in his pants around his female servants – how very Bill Clinton of him.

Meanwhile, Dorothy’s arc is essentially an allegory for illegal immigration: swept away by a tornado, dearest Dotty cannot return to her home country, though she would like nothing more, and is met with apprehension and hatred by everyone she meets because they perceive her as a threat to the order of the country – and still all she wants to do is help out in any way she can by applying the unique skills that she brings with her – if that isn’t a classic immigrant story, I don’t know what is.

Furthermore, the show deserves praise for incorporating minorities into the plot in a manner that is both elegant and effortless: Emerald features a trans, a bisexual and a disabled character as well as notable POC characters in Dorothy, Ozma, Tip, and East.

3. The locations are gorgeous

After his acclaimed dark fairytale The Fall as well as Immortals, Tarsem Singh continues to shamelessly exploit his renown to shoot in all the prettiest places in Europe. Emerald City was filmed in Croatia, Hungary and Spain, most prominently Barcelona’s Park Güell, which poses as the Wizard’s castle. For a detailed look at the show’s locations, visit www.atlasofwonders.com.

4. As are the costumes

From Lady Ev’s masks, to West’s sexy steampunk dresses, to East’s red power dress, this show is every girl’s dream – if she enjoys getting all dolled up that is.

5. The Romance

Angst-ridden and destined for heartbreak: From the moment she finds him strung up on a cross, Dorothy and Lucas are your instant one true pairing and their dynamic is one of the highlights of the show. While Dorothy is a stranger in a strange land, Lucas is a stranger to himself, having lost all memory of his life before Dorothy. In turn, Dorothy names him after her hometown after knowing him for less than a day – one of the many tokens of their intense connection.

To binge or not to binge: Do not binge. Take your time so you can fully appreciate the lush aesthetic and the elaborate symbolism.



3 thoughts on “Emerald City: A Gritty Re-Imagining of The Wizard of Oz

    1. Well, you’re lucky because you won’t have to wait a whole week between episodes since Season 1 has already concluded. Let me know how you liked it if you get round to watching it.


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