The Amazon Prime Video series is adapted from showrunner Naomi Alderman’s eponymous 2016 sci-fi novel
Last Updated: 04.50 AM, Apr 10, 2023
Story: Teenage girls across the globe develop unexplained powers that give them the ability to electrocute anything or anyone. This sets off a chain of events that alters social dynamics on an unprecedented scale.
Review: Thought-provoking sci-fi stories are back in demand, or at least streaming giants like Prime Video and Apple TV+ believe the genre is in demand considering they have invested in several new projects. Amazon Prime Video’ The Power is not a conventional sci-fi tale and nor does it offer nail-biting set pieces, exhilarating action, or even the doom and gloom of a dystopian setting. It does, however, offer a unique examination of gender roles in society through its sci-fi narrative. But unfortunately, it does not expand beyond social commentary at times and falls ever so slightly in terms of narrating a compelling story.
The series is centred around five parallel stories from around the world. Each story explores how the young women featured in them embrace their new powers, and how society and those around them react to this unprecedented phenomenon. One of these stories is told from the perspective of a young man in Nigeria named Tunde, played by Ted Lasso star Toheeb Jimoh. His character serves as a plot device that offers a man's perspective of the rapidly changing notions of gender politics across the globe.
Each of the concurrent stories examines how the new phenomenon affects various cultures, societies, communities, and families. For Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz), the teenage daughter of a British gangster, it is her ticket to be involved in her father’s illegal business. Allie (Halle Bush), the runaway teen, uses her powers to find a safe haven from her abusive foster parents. Jos (Auliʻi Cravalho), the daughter of a politician, simply wants to fit in, and she hopes that her new powers are her chance to connect with people. Estranged Eastern European sisters Tatiana (Zrinka Cvitešić) and Zoia (Ana Ularu) both yearn for freedom from their prisons – Tatiana’s metaphorical prison and Zoia’s literal prison. Toni Collette and John Leguizamo play pivotal roles as the parents of Jos. In many ways, they are just as crucial to the story as the girls, women, and Tunde.
While the premise of these stories is certainly intriguing and the performances equally compelling, they fail to keep one fully invested in the outcome of these plotlines. The narrative is at times a little too indulgent in the message it’s trying to convey and shackles the story to a certain degree. But despite being a little too on the nose, the show’s diverse characters, its grounded sci-fi narrative, and its take on contemporary socio-political issues surrounding women’s rights make it a thought-provoking watch.
The series is a largely faithful adaptation of the novel by Naomi Alderman. And Alderman being involved in the TV adaptation appears to have benefitted the series. The story at its core is a fairly simple question as to what would happen to the world if male-dominated societies were to be challenged by young girls and women who could electrocute anyone at will. The story leans on a nuanced take on the subject of exploring how it will affect politics, the global economy, and culture, and the paradigm shift in the established societal norms.
Verdict: Some stories use their premise to critique society through subtext, and The Power is not one among them because the subtext is non-existent as it uses its 'text' to deliver its themes. The message of how gender power across the globe is skewed in favour of males is the show’s very obvious central theme. While the message itself has become a cliche in stories, the TV show’s unique premise forces its audience to retrospect the dynamics of gender across the globe. The series features great production value and stunning performances by its lead stars.