Five-star TV: Women rule the world in this electrifying new series

The Power
★★★★★

This riveting adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s 2016 speculative fiction of the same name, The Power is a sprawling tale that stretches across several continents but hinges on one idea: what if we lived in a world where men were afraid of women.

Auli’i Cravalho as Jos in The Power.

The story is set in the present day when teenage girls suddenly find they have the ability to electrocute people at will, using a mysterious electrostatic power that originates in a new organ in their collarbones. Many keep this power a secret at first, but slowly this secret leaks and gender dynamics worldwide are upended.

Footage of girls electrocuting men appears on the internet, and before long schools start segregating girls and online misogynists are soon having a field day. But women are escaping abusive relationships, walking home alone at night (with their earbuds in!) and taking on attackers as they begin to embrace the potential of this (evolutionary?) gift.

Toheeb Jimoh as aspiring journalist Tunde.

A delicious premise to most women, surely. Someone telling you, “Cheer up, love”? Simply point your fingers at them menacingly. A man bothering you at a bar? Jolt him across the room.

The series focuses on four characters learning to navigate their power: Jos (Auli’i Cravalho), who lives a comfortable life in Seattle, where her mother Margot (Toni Collette) is the mayor; Allie (Halle Bush), also in the US but from a very different background; Londoner Roxy (Ria Zmitrowicz), the daughter of a crime boss (Edward Marsan), and Tatiana (Zrinka Cvitesic), the first lady of an eastern European country who was forced to give up a career as an Olympic gymnast and marry a man twice her age.

The four women, each offering a perspective on how different levels of society, from drug barons to politics, are affected, have different levels of ability. Allie, who hears a female voice in her head that she believes to be God, uses hers to escape abusive foster parents, before becoming a spiritual leader to teenage girls; Roxy, full of rage after the murder of her mother, revels in her powerful abilities, teaching others how to harness theirs; Tatiana breaks free of her husband, who has made women prisoners in the country he presides over, and Jos, who struggles with her gift, passes it on to her politician mother, Margot.

There’s also a male at the story’s centre – Nigerian journalist Tunde (Toheeb Jimoh), who travels the world documenting the revolution he sees coming, from protests and riots in Riadh to freed sex slaves in eastern Europe.

There were only seven of The Power’s nine episodes available to preview, but it’s clear Tunde may feel less sympathetic to the cause by the series end, and that the gender-flip that held such promise as women took back autonomy in places such as Saudi Arabia, will ultimately remain underpinned by the ways in which power can corrupt.

Produced by women (including Alderman), The Power, which also reportedly had an all-female writers’ room, pulls together several compelling threads to hypothesise about how a world (and really, the world, not just the US) run by women might look – and how, disappointingly, it might not actually change all that much from the current patriarchy.

The Power is streaming on Amazon Prime from March 31.

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