It’s never been a better year to be a fan of creator Margaret Atwood, between Hulu’s Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Alias Grace” — which drops Friday on Netflix and is also based on Atwood’s novel of the same name.
“I think that it’s surely useful that both pieces have become out around the real time,” says Sarah Gadon, 30, who stars as “Alias Grace’s” nominal character, Grace Marks. “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is this look ahead at this dystopian future of where we’re possibly headed in terms of gender politics — and ‘Alias Grace’ is this see back at where we’ve appear from.”
The six-episode series will demand to viewers who enjoyed “The Handmaid’s Tale” for its analysis of upstairs/downstairs household dynamics and its dresses-and-bonnets creative. But where the former paints a image of a risky near-future America where women have no autonomy, “Alias Grace” rotates around a murder case in the past that’s based on a true story — and shines a fame on how 1840s/’50s society considered women who broke the rules.
Think “Downton Abbey” meets “The Night Of.” Set in 19th century Canada, “Alias Grace” is a “whydunit” about gentle Irish immigrant Grace Marks (Gadon), a serving maid who — with the assist of fellow servant James McDermott (Kerr Logan from “Game of Thrones”) — murders her employer Thomas Kinner (Paul Gross) and his caretaker and mistress, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin).
Series writer/showrunner Sarah Polley, 38, has a history in independent film and first attempted to snare the “Alias Grace” adaptation rights when she was 17 (just one year older than Grace herself at the time of the murder). She’s the series’ lone writer. “Because I don’t arrive from the world of TV, I didn’t know that was curious,” she says. “I’m not sure how I would have shared the writing — for me it was just natural to do that.” Polley says she’s long been charm by the novel because Grace “was the most complex, interesting, and dynamic character I’ve always read. There were moments you wanted to secure her and there were moments you felt she was being considerate.”
Right from the debt, neither the murderer nor her victims are a question. Instead, Grace’s aim (or lack thereof) is the show’s main focus, along with the query of how society and the men around her have wry her story. There’s also a query of whether Grace herself is a decent narrator, as she follows on her life and the events leading to the appalling day.
In one eventful sequence, Grace undergoes hypnosis. Gadon prepared by really getting hypnotized and filming herself. “I asked my dad, who is an emotional behavioral therapist, to hypnotize me, so I could see what I looked like on camera,” she says.
“My belief is that people walk away with various versions of what they think may have happened,” says Polley. “That’s ever the thing with really best television — I belief people discuss it and dispute about it.”