The Power's Naomi Alderman On Its Radical, Inclusive Gender Politics
‘The Power’s Naomi Alderman On Its Radical, Inclusive Gender Politics
PRIDE caught up with the author and the show’s co-executive producer Tim Bricknell to talk about why adding a trans character was essential in adapting the show, and why they aren’t afraid to ask the big questions about power and gender.
For The Power author Naomi Alderman, walking onto the set of a TV show based on a fictional universe that once only lived in her head was a mind-blowing experience. “My God, going to, I think it was the Suffolk coast, and walking into a convent that I had previously imagined in my mind... it’s kind of like a sort of good kind of psychotic break, where you’re just like, oh, I imagined this, and now I’m standing in it that feels weird. But wonderful, really wonderful,” she tells PRIDE.
She’s describing the location of just one of the interweaving, worldwide stories of how the lives and world changes for women and men when the balance of global power suddenly shifts in favor of the former. The series, for the uninitiated, follows a group of women — and a few men — who are witnesses or participants to how the world changes almost overnight when, without warning, young women begin unlocking the literal powers that have existed within them all along.
What follows is a fascinating and complex look at how that upends not only who has the power, but all the social and cultural structures that have been in place bolstering patriarchal systems around the globe. The show doesn’t shy away from asking the biggest of questions, which is exactly what Alderman set out to do.
Watch PRIDE’s full Interview with The Power author and executive producers Naomi Alderman & Tim Bricknell below.
“It is weird for anybody, particularly me, to pretend that you have all the answers. But I certainly do have some good questions,” she says. Some of the most poignant are around sex and gender. “I’m a trans-inclusive feminist, so these questions are important to me. It’s a novel and a show that is trying to talk about the variety of experiences around gender around sex in the world,” she explains. “Trans people are real. So in the show, you know, let’s talk about different cultures, different continents, different experiences of sex and gender, and get into it all. Just why not? I’m nothing if not ambitious.”
Both the book at the series touch on what these changes mean for intersex people, and the series adds a trans character in an important role — and on the Suffolk set, that was so revelatory to Alderman.
“The show is about power, in its essence, and through a gender lens initially,” co-executive producer Tim Bricknell tells PRIDE. “But gender is not [so] black and white. This is an ongoing discussion in the world and I think the show adds to that discussion in a positive way. [Trans actress] Daniela Vega gives a fantastic performance as sister Maria. She’s a wonderful, wonderful actress.
“I’m really proud of the show that it adds something positive to an ongoing global discussion, that is pulling down the boundaries of whatever, the black and white historical perceptions of gender politics,” he adds.
Alderman hopes that watching the show adds to the discourse and opens some minds by presenting compelling and complicated questions. “I would like people to be having conversations about: What is sex and gender? Why do we think that men and women are different in these ways? How culturally constructed is that? What would it be like if we just flipped that around in our minds? Would we suddenly find different things within ourselves? Given that we all contain multitudes? What is power? How does it work in the world? How does power accumulate around particular people? Are we satisfied with how that is happening right now? Or do we think it could be done better differently?” she shares. “So I hope to start a million conversations, some of them with people who disagree with me. I’m up for it all.”
At the end of the day, Alderman’s mainly excited for audiences to just go on the ride. “I hope that we can show the audience a bloody good time. There’s a gangster story in there. We’ve got a political thriller. We’ve got an investigative journalism story. We’ve got a story about the rise of — spoilers, a little bit of a spoiler — about a cult leader. We’ve got a European dictator and all of these things,” she teases. “I hope the audience has a really exciting time and that they’re so thrilled they just can’t stop watching it. It’s incredibly propulsive, I can’t stop watching it — and I bloomin’ wrote it!