“The Power” has arrived on Prime Video, and it marks a somewhat rare occurrence on television: a show about and for women, directed almost entirely by women. Naturally, that was pretty appealing to the women in it — but also to some of the men.
The series, adapted from Naomi Alderman’s 2016 book of the same name, follows multiple women all around the world, as they all begin to develop a new organ in their body that allows them to not only control but expel electricity at will. It is powerful, it awakens in adolescence, and it is only found in women.
Naturally, the power dynamics of the world are immediately shifted. Young women feel emboldened, and truly safe for the first time in their existence. But, if you’re thinking this is a superhero-esque series, you’d be a bit off. In fact, that the series is not about superheroics is part of what drew series star Auli’i Cravalho’s eye.
“What I loved about ‘The Power’ was that it didn’t feel like a superpower,” Cravalho told TheWrap. “It felt like an organ that was inherited because women needed an internal strength and needed an outward presence of that strength.”
In reality, the “Moana” and “Crush” actress notes that the world as it is is pretty bleak for women, and “The Power” offered both fun escapism and an ideal alternate reality.
“Women teach women to be careful. And to put your keys between your fingers; if you’re walking alone at night, if that is your best defense, you have to do that,” Cravalho explained. “To ‘please text me when you get home safe,’ to only run with one earbud in because you always have to be aware of your surroundings.”
She continued, “And the power, the electricity coursing through every woman’s veins changes the weight that we carry on our shoulders. And that’s really what drew me to this project was the sci-fi realism of a world where Jos could grow up with that knowledge that she was safe walking into any room.”
Much the same could be said for Toni Collette, who plays Cravalho’s on-screen mother, and the mayor of Seattle in the series. For her, the show marked a milestone for young female audiences, and she simply wanted to be part of it.
“I knew I wanted to be a part of this story because, I mean, I didn’t have anyone to look at like this when I was growing up watching TV to be able to see all of these diverse characters” Collette told TheWrap. “These are amazing women and girls with different cultural backgrounds, coming into a sense of power. I think it’s so important for girls and women to see that, especially at this time when men are so scared, they’re trying to take it away from us.”
Of course, there are men in this series. One of them is Rob Lopez, played by John Leguizamo. And, as it turns out, a series by women and for women was a huge plus for him too.
“That was totally the draw for me! That was the draw, to play a vulnerable, sensitive, nurturing man. I mean, I think it’s a new masculinity,” Leguizamo told TheWrap. “And to play alongside Toni Collette, who is one of the great actors of our time, was so much fun.”
He continued, “And being on a set with women who are running things, who are the producers, the directors, the showrunners, the leads, it was such an incredible set. We laughed a lot. It was very collaborative. I never felt diminished. I felt empowered. It was just a great time had by everybody, especially me.”
Indeed, “The Power” is led by an all-female writers room. Showrunner Raelle Tucker is among them, and for her, the series was a stark contrast to her earliest days as a TV writer, on some of her first shows.
“When I was in that room, it was pretty normal to be the only woman, the only woman producer, the only woman writer on most rooms, in most meetings,” Tucker explained to TheWrap. “I had meetings on television shows where they’re like, ‘We’re meeting with you because we need to hire a woman. We’ve been told we have to.’ They literally told me that on a very prominent show.”
Naturally, Tucker didn’t want to name names there, and added that, with “The Power,” the demographic of those behind the scenes wasn’t some quiet mandate she and her team instituted. In fact, she makes a point to note that there were men like Leguizamo on the series, who were true “champions” for the show.
“Working with an all-female room, all-female directors, producing team — that wasn’t something that came from like, ‘I hate dudes, and I don’t want to work with them,’” she explained. “But it was really exciting to be in a place where I could be more raw, I could be more vulnerable, we all felt maybe that we could be a little bit more honest about some of the issues that we were discussing.”
She added, “We didn’t have to filter them through, you know, the lens of not wanting to offend or not wanting to be seen as weak or vulnerable, you know? So yeah, I think some really profound work came out that way.”
The first three episodes of “The Power” are now streaming on Prime Video.