When you buy a lot of tarot and oracle decks they aren’t all going to be winners. Some are OK, you might not love them but you don’t hate them. And naturally, you have the ones that you just LOVE. And then, every now and then, you end up with something that is just horrible.
That’s what I got when I bought the TV Series Tarot by Davide Corsi and Gero Giglio (published by Lo Scarabeo).
Many of you know I’m a pop culture junkie. When I teach tarot I use things like TV and movies as a way to help make understanding that tarot, particularly the court cards, make a little more practical sense to people. Newbies especially find it helpful to have examples of personalities and situations that they can relate to in some way to make otherwise confusion cards more digestible. So to me, a tarot deck based on TV shows was like a dream!
I have several decks that have connections to pop culture. Years ago I got a music based deck called The Rock & Roll Tarot by Chris Paradis, which I love. If you’re a fan of music and you don’t find something incredibly fun about having Frank Zappa on The Magician card, we need to talk.
Last year I grabbed The Illest Tarot by Kristi Prokopiak which combines all kinds of pop culture figures including actors and musicians. I really like this deck a lot, but my only issue with it is that the minor arcana cards don’t have full illustrations (i.e. Eight of Cups in just eight cups). As someone that primarily reads clairvoyantly, I’m not a fan of those kinds of decks but I do still use this deck because the majors and the court cards are so worth it. I mean, come on…Claire Danes as Angela from “My So Called Life” is the Page of Cups! Lady Gaga is the Queen of Cups and Abbi and Ilana from “Broad City” are The Fool. That’s awesome!
I also got The Twin Peaks Tarot by Claire Laffar last year and L-O-V-E IT! Her TV art is excellent and I would LOVE to see her do more decks!
But the TV Series Tarot turned out to be a mega dud. And not so much because the cards and the shows or characters connected to them don’t work, because in a lot of cases they do, but because the art is FUCKING HORRIBLE!
Just so you know, yes, I did read reviews of the decks and saw some images of the cards prior to buying it. I knew it wasn’t going to be amazing. But I thought it would be workable. But holy crap, it’s bad.
If you’re not a TV or pop culture nerd, this deck is not going to work for you. Like at all. Some of the references are really obscure. Couple that with the bad art and there’s a really good chance you’ll be totally lost.
There are a few cards that have images that try to emulate the promotional images from certain TV shows. If you don’t know the shows themselves but you’re vaguely familiar with those images you’ll be able to figure out what or who a card is meant to be, but otherwise you might be completely lost.
A few examples…
So this is supposed to be Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on Veep. The only reason I know that is because this was the promo poster for season one. But that doesn’t look like her…come on now.
This is another one that’s just horrid. That’s supposed to be Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood on House of Cards. Again, this is an attempt at recreating a fairly familiar promo image from season one.
There are a few others that sort of offended me as a fan of the shows and actors being represented.
The one on the left is supposed to be David and Nate from Six Feet Under. Seriously. In the center is Sheldon Cooper, looking EXTRA crazy. And the one on the right is supposed to be Tony Soprano. For real.
These two just kill me. Six Feet Under is one of my all time favorite TV series (which affected me so deeply I’ve ever been able to rewatch it but I absolutely loved it). The Sopranos is another of my all time faves. I’m a huge fan of mafia themed tv and movies because I’ve always had a deep interest in the history of the mafia. I am also a massive James Gandolfini fan (rest in peace, sir…you were amazing and gone way too soon).
I have a theory…
The art is so bad because to create and sell these cards would, I’m 99% sure, require getting licensing to use these character’s images. You can’t just create a deck based on copyrighted characters and sell it. Some of us were made very well aware of that when artist Benjamin Mackey created, and attempted to crowdfund (which was successful), a Twin Peaks tarot deck. He was met with a lot of issues around licensing and reproducing images with someone else’s characters which caused the deck to take several years to be produced and, if I remember right, had to be limited to a certain number of printings. Needless the say, the deck isn’t available (and I don’t think was available outside of the crowdfunding campaign) and the final deck had changes from the original art that were likely related to licensing agreements.
Either way…this is what I think the TV Series Tarot is a pile of shit. It costs a lot of money to get the rights to use those images.
There are a small handful of cards that look pretty true to the actors/characters depicted. Like Tom Selleck as Tom Magnum on Magnum P.I. and Henry Winkler as Fonzie from Happy Days. Maybe they spent all their licensing budget on those.
Some of the cards will almost definitely leave you guessing. I genuinely have no clue what these are but I get the sense I’ll feel like an idiot when I figure them out.
Oh, and if you’re saying “Jess, can’t you just look in the book?”
Nope, because there is no list or explanation of what show is on each card.
Some will probably make you chuckle when you consider the show and image with the card meaning.
And others might make you go “awww…that’s cute.”
But at the end of the day, this deck is a shitty mess. It’s a bummer because the concept is excellent but the execution is horrible. When it comes to the actually cards, they are your typical Lo Scarabeo quality. Kind of flimsy, not well coated, and likely to not survive regular shuffling and use if it gets used often.
On the flip side though, if you are a Game of Thrones fan, the deck by Liz Dean and Craig Coss is excellent.