The Handmaid’s Tale just cleaned up at the Emmys, and it seems crazy to say it, but it’s almost like people enjoy watching quality stories about women, for women, by women. Wait, that can’t be right. Hopefully next season we get lots of TV shows about awful men who treat people terribly but somehow it’s okay because they’re “complex” to balance things back out.
This fall another of The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood’s novels is being adapted into a series, this time on Netflix. Alias Grace isn’t one of Atwood’s novels that I’ve gotten around to reading yet, and once I watched the trailer for the upcoming show I couldn’t understand why. It looks like it’s going to be outstanding.
This series checks all the boxes. It’s historical fiction, all six episodes are both written and directed by women, it’s a murder mystery, and there’s a sexy doctor. The book was first published in 1996, and is based it part (but not completely) on the 1843 murders of two people in Canada. Two servants were convicted- one was hanged while the other, Grace Marks, was sentenced to life imprisonment, but is later hired out to work in a high ranking man’s home.
I am totally about the Victorian setting. Heavy curtains, lots of candlelight, endless headwear, cravats. I love it all, it feels seasonally appropriate to me somehow. Victorian aesthetic is my pumpkin spice.
Canadian actress Sarah Gadon plays main character Grace, English actor Edward Holcroft (who I recognized from Kingsman) plays the doctor Simon Jordan, a character that Margaret Atwood created for the novel. I was pleasantly surprised to see a wild Zachary Levi appear in a supporting role.
The perils faced by women solely because they’re women are going to be on full display in Alias Grace, just as they were with The Handmaid’s Tale. Both Atwood adaptations have been in the works for some time, and they’re sadly always relevant, but the fact that both series and are being released this year is a peculiar mix of awful and amazing. Due to the political climate today we’re closer to backsliding into Draconian treatment of women more than we’ve been in a long time, but that’s why it’s so necessary for these shows to be on right now. I think Margaret Atwood has been an underrated author. A decent amount of people know who she is, but her work hasn’t been as popular as it should be. This is the perfect time for her work to become more mainstream. Although I’m sure things are going to turn around for women any day now…