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Despite the Trailer, The Power Isn’t a Teen Girl Superhero Party

If it follows the book, the Prime Video series has some very dark turns ahead.
  • It’s all fun and games until somebody uses their superpowers to start a violent revolution. The trailer for Prime Video’s The Power goes hard on the show's high-concept premise, about all the teenage girls in the world simultaneously developing the ability to conduct electricity through their hands.

    Playing the mayor of Seattle, Toni Collette goes on TV to insist that’s not a hoax, but we don’t have to take her word for it. There are scenes of young women hurling lightning bolts at cars, short circuiting a school fire alarm to get out of class, and moodily watching sparks dart between their fingers. Over a thundering dance beat, there are also scenes of “sexy chaos,” like a slow-mo shot of a woman in a high-fashion dress walking a miniature horse through a palace, then later forcing a general to kneel down and kiss her hand. It’s a wild rush of sensation that evokes how it might feel for every girl on earth to realize she’s got the ability to change the world.

    But it’s not that simple: This series is based on Naomi Alderman’s novel The Power, and if it follows the original story, then it’s going to take some nasty turns. In the book, grown women develop the power as well, and while they initially use it to shake off male oppression, many of them become corrupted by their unstoppable might. In the final chapters, the novel becomes a thorny, provocative argument about how anyone can be a fascist or a dictator, if they just get the opportunity. It’s that sly mix of action-adventure tropes and vicious commentary that has made the book an award-winning bestseller.

    Chances are good the series will be just as layered. For one thing, Reed Morano is directing several episodes, and her work on The Handmaid’s Tale helped that show’s first season develop its incisive approach to feminist storytelling. For another, the showrunner is Raelle Tucker, whose work on True Blood saw that series blend meaty ideas with sex, gore, and humor.

    Along with Collette, the cast includes Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) and newcomer Halle Bush. And oh yeah, there are also some men, including John Leguizamo, Josh Charles, and Ted Lasso’s Toheeb Jimoh in a crucial role as a photographer who realizes that certain women are turning to the dark side. But they’re secondary. This is going to be a sci-fi show where the female characters are guaranteed to take top billing.

    The Power premieres March 31 on Prime Video.

    Mark Blankenship has been writing about arts and culture for twenty years, with bylines in The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, Fortune, and many others. You can hear him on the pop music podcast Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs.

    TOPICS: The Power, Prime Video, Naomi Alderman, Raelle Tucker, Reed Morano, Toni Collette