Amazon Prime is presenting us with another show based on a piece of feminist literature, the New York Times bestselling novel “The Power.” As a woman, it is almost natural to be drawn to such a topic and seek to understand what kind of world we’d live in if it were turned upside down. Keeping that in mind, “The Power” is rather convoluted and quite dissatisfying if viewed with such an expectation. In a patriarchal world, teenage girls out of the blue develop the power to send electric shocks at will from their bodies. What does this entail for the world? And how will this change in power dynamics affect the world we live in? That is what this show explores.
Girls evoke this power in older women; they get locked out by governments, and everybody is told it’s a hoax until one person steps up. That is the natural course of action for such a phenomenon. How could men ever take the idea that women are more powerful and that teenage girls could physically harm them as something that isn’t against the laws of nature itself, even if it clearly comes from nature? That is what I got from my viewing of “The Power.” As a fan of the nihilistic dystopian genre as a teenager, this is the kind of concept that should’ve made my skin crawl with excitement, but it left me rather dull and resentful.
Don’t get me wrong; there are positives to the show, such as the performances, the CGI, and the science-fiction part of it all. Particularly how the skein—the organ that women have that helps them conduct electrical power—is depicted and how it comes to be is quite fascinating. It is interesting to see world-building and how different aspects of life are considered, such as religion, politics, social classification, and more, but is it done in the best way? I’m not quite sure.
The show explores how different parts of the world would deal with such a fate, which was interesting to see, but in hindsight, it may have been too focused on representation without actually serving its purpose. At first viewing, the show has a slow pace and sets the stage for five parallel storylines that become quite overbearing. With a smorgasbord of topics to cover, I can’t help but feel like things were rushed to give a more thrilling outcome than the underlying social commentary the show is so intent on sharing. It is rather unfortunate that the only actions derived from power results in exactly everything negative that has happened to the world. Call me naive, but there is some humanity left in us, and this show is determined not to acknowledge it.
Each character truly stands out with some great backstories and arcs, which made me wish I had more time with each of them, but instead, I found myself struggling to remember that one or the other even existed when they were not in the episodes. From Margot, Jos, Roxy, Allie, Tunde, Tatiana, Zoia, to even Margot’s husband, Rob, all characters are enticing and impactful, but with limited screen time, it is very difficult to focus on what is important for each of them as a casual viewer. As you can tell, it’s a mouthful just to name some of them. Ndudi was an especially underused character.
The source material can be considered a counterpoint to Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which sees the future as a world entirely dominated by white men, whereas this does exactly the opposite by handing physical strength to the opposite sex. In the same way, the shows, too, are vastly different in everything, including stylization. “The Power” feels more present than past or future. The sparks are definitely there, but there are no dancing lights with “The Power.” The soundtrack is great and sets the glum mood of the dystopian world we’re supposed to be sucked into. The show is particularly graphic in certain parts and includes a lot of violence and profanity, some sexual content, and nudity as well.
In the days where being socially aware is everything everyone is talking about, this show manages to check off quite a few boxes, but why, then, does it feel so disconnected? As a person who hasn’t read the novel, there may be something I’m missing, especially considering this is one of Obama’s favorite books of 2017. There is something lacking in this representation that seems to work in parts but not in others. More than anything, “The Power” is a lesson in power dynamics and what may happen if anyone, gender aside, gains too much of it.
In conclusion, if you’re not into dark, gloomy, and cynical content, I would suggest skipping “The Power.” If you want to have some discourse with your friends about the impact of being a human taser, this show can be the stepping-stone. Out of all the novels that could be made into shows, this one would not be first on people’s lists, and for that reason alone, I think it’s worth checking out. Overall, I think “The Power” can get two and a half points on the sci-fi meter for its originality and motives.