Alias Grace is a show that you don’t come across everyday, some critics would compare it to The Handmaid’s Tale, because they are both based on books by Margaret Atwood, but what makes Alias Grace stand out even further is that it is based on a true story.
This is one of the series I listed on the shows I’m most excited for, and it did not disappoint. The story surprises you in many ways, and makes use of many narrative devices to constantly keep the audience on its’ toes. It’s a series that demands all your attention, that eats up any prediction you have, and tosses you aside afterwards. In other words, it’s an experience.
What’s it about?
Alias Grace tells the story of the 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery in Canada, by the hands of two servants – Grace Marks and James McDermott. The series is about a fictional doctor Simon Jordan who is brought into to examine Grace, who suffered from amnesia and help to clear her name.
Why should you watch it?
If I had to describe it, I would call it Gone Girl set in the 19th century. You are never truly sure of Grace – her history, her intentions, what is true, what isn’t true. In every episode, Grace reveals more of her story – as the audience and Dr. Jordan is at her mercy as she weaves the story around what she wants to tell him.
As the audience, we get previews into information that Dr. Jordan and Grace do not see themselves, but it does not allow us any more privileged information than the characters themselves. We are fully aware that we are seeing the story through the eyes of Grace, because she is an unreliable narrator, the story is told from very different angles, and you do know that she wants Dr. Jordan to like her so she sugarcoats certain areas and leaves some things out.
But it is fascinating to watch, I don’t want to give too much away about whether or not Grace did commit the murder, I’ll leave you to get to the magnificent finale on your own. Sarah Gadon’s performance as Grace it’s amazing, the rest of the cast – Anna Paquin, Zachary Levi, Edward Holcraft etc – are excellent too, but Sarah completely nails the powerful yet subtle role of Grace.
I think everyone should try this show – even if it’s just to watch the excellent female character of Grace Marks, and make up your own opinions about the ambiguous nature of the show and then come talk to me afterwards. I love a show that starts a conversation. Especially one such as, are we, as society, obsessed with the glamorization of the pain of women? I think Grace Marks would argue that we are.
Alias Grace can currently be screened on Netflix