The Power: A New Sci-Fi Series for Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale

The Power asks how the world would change if young women suddenly developed electrical abilities that upended social inequalities.

Jos holding a burning paper in The Power
Photo: Katie Yu | Prime Video

If the recent trailer is any indication, Prime Video’s The Power promises to present both a realistic portrayal of what the sudden onset of superpowers in a subset of the population would be like and a potent statement about the lack of agency for young women in modern times. Set in a world where teenage girls develop the ability to generate electrical charges from their bodies, the series explores the complex power dynamics that arise as a result.

But what kind of show is The Power exactly? Is it the origin story for a kind of superhero race? Is it another sci-fi angle on The Handmaid’s Tale depicting the threats to women from a male-dominated world? Or is it an exploration of how society would react to a potential force for good or evil suddenly arising within humanity worldwide? Perhaps it’s all of the above.

Margaret Atwood As Mentor

It’s no coincidence that The Power has thematic parallels with The Handmaid’s Tale. Naomi Alderman wrote the original novel under the mentorship of Margaret Atwood herself. The pair came together as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative several years before Alderman wrote the book that Prime Video has now adapted, but their writing partnership continued well beyond that program.

That relationship notwithstanding, The Power television series also has its own supporting organization in the production company Sister, which produced HBO’s acclaimed miniseries Chernobyl. Founder Jane Featherstone has brought together an all-female team of directors  and a writers room headed by Raelle Tucker, who is known for her work on True Blood and Jessica Jones.

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Beyond the women’s perspective of this fictional scenario, though, there was a remarkable bit of prescience in developing The Power prior to the Supreme Court decision to change its stance on abortion rights, allowing individual states to subvert women’s power over their own bodies. The message of the show therefore becomes all the more relevant to the audience that will tune in for the March 31 premiere.

Toni Collette Leads the Cast

The filming of the series actually took place before the pandemic, and originally, Leslie Mann was set to play Margot Cleary-Lopez, the mayor of Seattle who fights for a positive approach to dealing with the powered teenagers in The Power. However, with COVID interruptions, Toni Collette stepped into the role with John Leguizamo playing her husband Rob and Auliʻi Cravalho as their daughter Jos, who begins manifesting electrical abilities early on in the series. 

The Power follows several other characters as well, each with their own unique take on what to do about the changing world around them. Among them are Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz), the daughter of a London gangster who finds a way to become a prominent figure in the criminal underworld herself; Allie (Halle Bush), a foster child who discovers her power while living in an abusive household, inspiring her to become the charismatic leader of her own feminist movement; and Tunde (Toheeb Jimoh), a Nigerian journalist who is covering the global impact of the power and documenting its effects.

With Great Power Comes Great…

The individual journeys of these characters in The Power may not take the direction viewers might expect. Roxy, for example, struggles with her desire to use her power for good while also being beholden to her father’s criminal enterprise. Allie, on the other hand, becomes increasingly radicalized as she sees the potential for change in the world around her. That’s assuming the series stays true to the novel — not a given considering the setting change and some character differences already apparent in the trailer.

Overall, The Power presents a thoughtful and nuanced exploration of gender politics with a compelling “what if” scenario. The series is both timely and timeless, offering a unique perspective on the modern world while also exploring universal themes that have been present throughout history. Hopefully the series will remain true to the spirit of the novel and give viewers an engaging and thought-provoking experience that will appeal to fans of the book and newcomers alike.

The first three episodes of The Power premiere Friday, March 31 on Prime Video.

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